Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Birthday, ZIP Codes!

From the massive collection of useless historical trivia maintained for your benefit by Uncle Bilbo (think of me as your personal cloud) ...

ZIP codes were introduced by the post office on this day in 1963. "ZIP" is an acronym meaning "Zone Improvement Plan," and "ZIP codes" were intended to make the sorting and delivering of mail more efficient. In the early days of mail delivery, letters were simply addressed to a particular city ("Pittsburgh, PA," for instance), but as the country grew, cities were divided into numbered "postal zones" (I grew up in "Pittsburgh 37, PA"). With the introduction of ZIP codes, my old homestead became "Pittsburgh, PA 15237."

There was even a mascot - "Mr Zip," or "Zippy: -

And cartoon heroes were enlisted to encourage everyone to use ZIP codes -

You read a basic ZIP code this way: the first three digits represent the part of the country the mail is going to, and the last two identify the post office within that region. In 1983, the U.S. Postal Service introduced "ZIP + 4," which added a hyphen and four additional digits to the end of the current ZIP code to speed things up even more. The first two digits of the "plus four" stand for a specific group of streets or cluster of large buildings, and the last two zoom in still further, narrowing the address down to one side of the block or even one floor in a large building. You can look up the ZIP+4 code for any address here, and you can look up the location and boundaries of particular ZIP codes on this interactive map.

ZIP codes start with zero in the Northeast and get bigger as one moves south and west. There are more than 42,000 ZIP codes in the United States.

And now you know the whole story, so go out there and win one for the Zipper ...

Have a good day and a safe Fourth of July weekend ... see you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday.



allenwoodhaven said...

Years ago when I lived in Massachusetts, they revived a zip code that had been terminated. Thus I moved from Northampton MA 01060 to Florence MA 01062 without having to pack and unpack a thing. It was the easiest move I've ever had!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Oh my did this bring back memories.
I so remember Mr. Zippy.

I don't know how that can be though I'm only 29.