Every so often while prowling around the lesser-known NYC neighborhoods (OK, who am I kidding, it’s usually only me that prowls like this, but I’ll stick with the phrasing) you may run a cross a pebbly concrete post with a date stamped into it (1930, here) and maybe even a couple of verdigris’ed bolts hammered into it, like this one at Calamus Avenue and 74th Street in Maspeth.
And even if there weren’t a modern mailbox next to it, you might now recognize this as a post that once carried an earlier version of that mailbox, a much smaller one that had just a narrow slot at the top in which to insert letters. (In fact, the word “Letters” was often inscribed on the slot.)
Glimpsing such a mailbox in current use is nearly impossible in 2015, unless you see one mounted outside a museum (as at the Richmondtown Restoration/Staten Island Museum).
Ah but when I began FNY in 1998, there were still a handful of small-slot mailboxes in general use in the five boroughs. I think I captured all of them on this page.