A Tour of the Oak Park Post Office

Oak Park, IL Post OfficeAs promised, a tour of the Oak Park Post Office…Oak Park Post Office 80th Anniversary Celebration, USPSThe Oak Park Post Office was built in 1935. It was a Public Works Administration project and there are other post offices in the country that are the same or very similar in design. entrance to Oak Park, IL post officeAbove the two main Lake Street entrances are these gorgeous brass images of different postal delivery methods (air, train, covered wagon, car, horse, and carrier). brasswork at Oak Park, IL Post OfficeI love the art deco birds above the doors. In 2011, the post office released a stamp of this design and I’ve always regretted that it was only for non-profits. detail of Oak Park, IL post officeCarved bald eagles adorn the brickwork above the doors. Oak Park Post Office, USPS 2 Oak Park Post Office, USPS 1I’d never noticed the fantastic lighting details until I started coming for the council meetings each month. The star lights are in the lobby at each end of the building and the sconces light up the corridor. And those tiny stars right below the crown molding–magnificent! Oak Park Post Office, USPS, muralsThere are four handpainted murals in the lobby as well. Oak Park Post Office 80th Anniversary Celebration, USPSIn our behind-the-scenes tour, we got to see the offices upstairs. There are a couple of meeting rooms, a room for both unions, and a couple of offices that the USPS hopes to rent out. Though the offices need a lot of work to make them shine, wouldn’t it be so fun to have your office space in the post office? Plus both offices look out at Unity Temple to the east. Oak Park, IL post office, carriers swing roomAt the end of the upstairs tour, we came upon this door. Hmmmmm… Oak Park, IL post office, carriers swing room Oak Park, IL post office, carriers swing roomAhhh…it’s an employee break room! I’m not sure how often the vintage ping pong table, chess board, pool table, and exercise bike get used nowadays, but the Postmaster mentioned that the lockers were used, especially in the winter for changing into cold weather gear. It kind of cracked me up…it felt like a rec room that hadn’t been updated since the 40s. I love it! Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSLeaving the Swing Room, we went downstairs to the sorting room. Each mail carrier has a stand where the route’s mail is sorted into slots for each address. Mail carrier’s are responsible for sorting their own routes.  Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSThe “Hot Case” is where late arriving mail goes. Mail carriers check here for any last minute mail for their routes. Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSThis area is where the packages are sorted. A postal worker scans each box (under that yellow arm) and throws the box in the orange bins (“pumpkins”) for the appropriate route. Can you imagine working quickly and tossing boxes in the correct bin? (Also, this should serve as a reminder to pack up those boxes with lots of cushion!) While we were there, the post office got a huge eight foot (estimation) high pallet of boxes from Fed Ex. The USPS carries the “last mile” for Fed Ex and UPS, so those packages were set to be sorted and delivered the following Monday. Oak Park, IL Post Office, sorting room, USPSI loved seeing the productivity goals for mail processing and counter service. I’d love to see the room in full swing on a Monday morning–I bet it’s buzzing!


10 thoughts on “A Tour of the Oak Park Post Office

  1. Amanda says:

    Gorgeous! I love beautiful old post offices. The one I go to near my work in downtown San Jose is pretty nice, too, but doesn’t compare to this!

  2. Ohhh I’m jealous! That is just lovely.

    Incidentally, I believe at one time I owned an exercise bike EXACTLY like that!

  3. Mom says:

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for showing us & telling us about the USPS.

  4. cath says:

    Kimberly, did you ever see – or a picture of- the Murals of Coit Tower in San Francisco? A few years ago I received a card showing one of them. It has the same atmosphere as the mural you have photographed here. Is there information on the artist(s)?
    Thank you so much for the tour. I liked it very much.

    • kimberly ah says:

      Hi Cath! (Good to hear from you!) I am going to the post office Wednesday afternoon and will check on the artist then. It could very well be the same artist. I meant to include the artist and the architect but I forgot to look up those details before I published the post. 🙂 Stay tuned!

  5. Cindy R. says:

    Lovely photos!

  6. juliekirk says:

    What an amazing tour – I can’t believe that’s a real Post Office … if only you could see the tiny, drab, joyless place I visit every week!! Oh so jealous!

    One of my guilty pleasures is the soppy Signed, Sealed, Delivered TV show … and your photos are totally hitting the same romantic postal nostalgia buttons!

    Julie 🙂

    • kimberly ah says:

      Thanks, Julie!
      I’m going to have to look up Signed, Sealed, Delivered now! And I do feel very lucky that I live near such a gem of a post office. The one closer to my house (that I use most often) is a lot more basic and boring, and my parents’ post office is in kind of a machine shed type building…so I guess post offices come in all shapes and sizes 🙂

  7. […] older books from the fifties and sixties. And I think things are even more automated now. Based on my post office visit a few years ago, my understanding is that humans are only sorting things at the very end of the […]

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