Today marks the 114th anniversary of the pneumatic tube system which was introduced in New York City on October 15, 1897.
According to the National Postal Museum website, the first pneumatic tubes were introduced in Philadelphia in 1893.
Eventually, pneumatic tube service operated in Boston, Chicago and St. Louis. By 1915, more than 56 miles of pneumatic tubes were installed under the city streets.
Smithsonian Institution Public Affairs Specialist Jessica Porter points out, "In the late 1890s, networks of pneumatic tube systems were installed under city streets to move the mail. Each pneumatic tube canister could hold up to 500 letters. The canisters, also known as carriers, were air compressed through the system, traveling at an average of 35 miles per hour. By 1915, more than 56 miles of pneumatic tubes were installed under the city streets."
Shown above, a pneumatic tube which is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is on display at the National Postal Museum.
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