When I first started photography for Forgotten New York in 1998 there were still a number of these small mailboxes mounted on telephone poles, or even proprietary concrete posts, scattered in outlying areas around town, such as this one on West 254th Street in Riverdale, Bronx. In former years they were also mounted on castiron lampposts.

Not one of the mailboxes featured on the page I devoted to them in 1999 is still in place today!

These boxes had just a small slot at the top and could tale envelopes only. Packages may have begun to take up more of the total volume of mail, so these boxes were gradually replaced.


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  1. Monica Wylie says:

    I love your page and the photos. I left NYC in 1987. Visited a few times since. Life takes over, and so do lack of funds to bring my kids to see where I grew up. I go on Google Earth to show them my neighborhood. Then I hit this page to reminisce. I am grateful for the little things you’ve photographed, like the mini mail boxes. If, and I’m sure you have, can show phone booths so I can show my kids. Smart phones have made these things disappear. BTW–my mom was born and raised in LIC/Astoria.

  2. Allan Rosen says:

    Those were the only mailboxes I saw as I child. I believe they were painted red, white, and blue and they were emptied five times a day. Gradually, the mail was taken from them at less frequent intervals. then they started painting them all blue to save money on paint. The cost to mail an envelope was three cents and two cents for a postcard.

  3. Larry says:

    The mini mailboxes appeared in places where there had been none at all before…and I recall pickups made as late at 8PM on a Saturday night….

  4. Ken B. says:

    These boxes were very heavy, being made of cast metal. The cover over the slot into which you inserted your envelope was held in place by simple pins that allowed you to pull down the cover to insert your envelope. This primitive arrangement always let out a squeal when the cover was pulled down and the cover rotated on the pins.
    While the boxes are all gone, you can still find the abandoned concrete posts if you carefully watch for them.

  5. Steve says:

    Really cool to see the old mailboxes. I didn’t think there were any left.

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