Friday, January 30, 2009

the 55401 Edifice

I had to stop at the main post office in downtown Mpls tonight. It's been a while. But I needed to mail a book, for the altered book round-robin (which I shoulda done two weeks ago.)

At first, I wasn't sure if they had the automatic postage machines there or how late the windows might be open. I called Mpls 311 and was told in no uncertain terms that this was a Federal facility and therefore not Mpls' problem. SO...I called 411. I'm on the bus on my way downtown. By the time I'm picking my way up the ladder at the fed's 800 number I notice the bus is crossing the river, is actually in sight of the post office itself, and I might just as well button my coat and jump out to see for myself if postal workers hang out at the edifice past 5pm.

I wish I'd had the nerve to take a picture -- I had my cell cam -- but fear of the FED kept me from trying it. (I don't know, maybe they have some sort of Homeland Security hangup, and who wants to end up at Gitmo?) But you have to see it, if you've never been. The main downtown post office was built on the very banks of the Mississippi in 1929. When the granite structure was erected it had in fact the world's longest continuous light fixture, a bronze chandelier about a block long. No kidding. The main building is loooonnnng, all marble and bronze on the inside. Big brassy kiosks with white marble counters for carefully addressing your penny postcards in illegible italic hand. Brass fittings around all the doorframes, roll-up windows and notice boards. Stand on one end of the echoing vault and the street doors at the other end are literally lost in shadow a city block away. It's architecture on a scale we scarcely see in the midwest -- and that much more vast when it was originally unveiled, since let's face it, people were smaller then.

By the way, you may see and be served by real humans there until 8pm. Ah, civility.

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