on January 15, 2006
The Postal History Museum is located across the street from Union Station, the nearest metro stop, which operates on the Red Line. The Museum is housed on the lower level of the historic City Post Office that was used as DC's main post office from 1914 to 1986.The first exhibit you encounter contains vehicles that were at one time or another used to transport the mail. There are airplanes hanging from the ceiling and postal trucks, a carriage, and a train car on the ground. Also, in this area you will find some post office street drop boxes that have been converted to display movies about postal history, where you would normally drop a letter. My favorite thing in this exhibit was the machines that printed the recievers address on a free Postal History Museum postcard. There was also a machine that put a special Musuem postmark on the postcard for the price of mailing a postcard (24 cents at the time). It is definitely my new favorite postcard in my postmarked postcard collection.The rest of the exhibits individually go out from the main exhibit area. One of the exhibits walks you throught the history of the United States Postal Service from the time of the American Revolution through the short lived Pony Express to today and the no longer needed postal boxes for the World Trade Center Twin Towers.My favorite exhibit was the Customers and Communities exhibit. It contained information on how the postal service became a service with free delivery to city households and finally rural households. I found it extremely interesting, as I had never realized that it once cost extra money to have home delivery of mail and unless you were wealthy you had to go to a sometimes very distant post office to get your mail and there was not always mail for you. The best part of this exhibit was the interactive What's in the Mail For You part. In this exhibit you learn how direct mailings work. At the first station you get your picture taken and are issued a card to use in the other stations. Another station has some trivia questions and if you answer four right, you will get a 10% off coupon for the museum store at the last station. The last station is where a printing machine creates a letter for you with coupon and a certificate with your picture and then stuffs it into an envelope for you.Some of the other exhibits include one on the duck stamps, one where you can look at many of the stamps issued by the USPS since its beginning, and the temporary exhibit area, which contained war letters when I visited.The museum contains two stores. One contains souvenirs related to stamps and the museum. The other is post office, where you can buy sheets of all the stamps currently available for sale.
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