TIL about Detroit… Home to the only floating post office in the U.S.

Posted on April 21, 2017

Boaty McBoatface? No, this is the J.W. Wescott II.

From the NY Times: “A narrow street dead-ends at the Detroit River, where a black-and-white boat bobs in the water, emblazoned with a Postal Service eagle. This is the mail boat J.W. Westcott II, the only floating ZIP code in the United States.

The little boat’s ZIP code, 48222, is reserved for mail addressed to the freighters that ply the Great Lakes. It is administered by the J. W. Westcott Company of Detroit, founded in 1874 when its main job was vessel reporting — telling companies, and the families of sailors, where their ships and loved ones were.

Today, its official motto is “mail by the pail.” It chugs out to passing freighters to deliver parcels to the crews, often by hoisting the mail with a rope and bucket. It’s been a registered post office since 1948.

Forty or 50 years ago, when ships and ports were less mechanized, a boat’s crew had time to shop on land while their vessel was docked. “The modern sailor is a whole different game,” Mr. Hogan said. “Younger guys are used to ordering things online.” Today, “it’s not as important to get the love letter from home as it is to get something that he’s ordered.”

Over the last several decades, the Westcott Company has found a way to stay afloat and even grow, while the Postal Service has sunk deeper underwater — net losses for the second quarter of 2016 were $2 billion. While the service has laid off hundreds of thousands of people over the last five years, Mr. Hogan, 60, says he has trouble finding qualified workers.”

Read the full article at the NY Times here

#ELGL17 visitors shouldn’t miss an opportunity to walk down to the Detroit River and check out the Detroit Riverwalk, panoramic views of Canada and perhaps even the J.W. Wescott II. The River’s only a 10 minute walk from the David Whitney Building! Don’t forget to register for #ELGL17 here.

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