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Dead medium: Pneumatic mail (Part Three)
From: jort@inetarena.com (Dan Howland)
Source(s): Scientific American, December 11, 1897 "The pneumatic tube has been in use in this country on a small scale from a quarter of a century for the transmission of cash in retail stores and for general telegraphic purposes. The Western Union Telegraph Company laid down four lines in 1876 from the main office in Broadway, New York, one to Pearl Street, and one to the Cotton Exchange. To these it has since added two miles of double line which run beneath Broadway to its uptown office.

"The most notable event in the recent history of pneumatic transmission occurred in Philadelphia, when a system of 6 inch tubes was built between the main post office and the sub-post office on Chestnut Street, near Third Street, a distance of 3,000 feet. The reader will observe that in all the European systems none of the tubes are larger than 3 inches in diameter, so that in respect of size alone the Philadelphia plant marked a bold advance upon any existing system, the area of the tubes being increased more than four-fold, and the capacity of the carriers in proportion. The speed, moreover, was nearly doubled, and hence, with the improved mechanical appliances for transmitting and receiving, the capacity of each tube cannot be less than twenty times as great as that in the old country systems. The Philadelphia plant was opened in 1893 and has been in successful operation ever since.

"In 1897, the Tubular Dispatch Company, of New York, was authorized to construct a system of postal delivery tubes between the general post office and certain sub- stations in New York City. It was decided to adopt the system already in successful operation in Philadelphia, and to this end the Batcheller Pneumatic Tube Company, of Philadelphia, drew up plans for a set of lines running from the general post office to the Produce Exchange, to the Forty-second Street depot, to One Hundred and Twenty- fifth Street, and across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn. The line to the Produce Exchange and return was built, and the opening took place on October 7 of this year."

Dan Howland (jort@inetarena.com)