The lunchtime tourist

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September 3, 2002 // UPDATED 1:30 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Linda S. Koutsky
Linda S. Koutsky

The Main Post Office, 100 S. 1st St.

Just for a change, why not scrap that next e-mail message, put your best cursive writing to use and march a note down to the Main Post Office? It used to be that written communications were made with great thought and personality-revealing penmanship. Gone are the loopy letterforms and exaggerated flourishes -- just that sideways colon and parenthesis to embellish our messages today :(

In 1931, President Hoover signed a bill appropriating $4 million for the construction of a new Minneapolis post office. Magney & Tusler architects, known for their Foshay Tower, were chosen for the job. It was built on the site of the city's first post office, which opened in 1854.

The two-plus-block-wide building is clad in black granite and Mankato limestone. Though an extremely horizontal building, it still achieves the vertical emphasis typical of Art Deco architecture. Three-story window units with decorative relief panels create a striking pattern on the facade in addition to expressing verticality. Clustered massing at either end of the symmetrical facade marks the entrances.

The interior remains nearly intact as the day it was built: decorative inlaid terrazzo floors, bronze window grills, and freestanding mailing stations that have been in use since stamps were a mere 3. When installed, the 350-foot bronze chandelier running the length of the main corridor was considered to be the largest light fixture in the world! It also contained ductwork to provide heat and air conditioning. Look up and you can still see the vents.

The building opened in 1935. In his dedication speech, Postmaster General James Farley said, "Magnificent buildings are memorials of the strength and glory of a civilization."

Go mail that letter this afternoon.

LUNCH TIP: A soup-and-salad bar and deli sandwiches are available at Tom Thumb at 2nd Avenue and South 2nd Street.

Mail your comments to the Lunchtime Tourist at 3225 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis 55408. (Sorry, no e-mail address this week!)