If you’ve been paying attention to New York Fashion Week news, you probably already know that September’s festivities will be held, in part, at the James A. Farley Post Office. But do you know the history of this iconic New York City landmark?
Located on Eighth Avenue between West 31st and West 33rd Streets, the Farley Post Office was built in 1912 and opened for business in 1914. Designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White (designers of other famous NYC buildings such as the Brooklyn Museum and the Hotel Pennsylvania), the Eighth Avenue side of the building features the longest colonnade of fluted Corinthian columns in the world. The facade was designed to mirror that of the old Penn Station, which was located across Eighth Avenue until its demolition in 1963.
The building is named for James A. Farley, the 53rd Postmaster General. Farley was instrumental in implementing the 1934 renovations which doubled the size of the building, extending it over to Ninth Avenue. At its peak, the massive building housed over 4,000 employees. The building included elements such as a postal police unit, a cafeteria, a medical wing, and administrative offices, as well as an acre of mail handling space.
The Farley Post Office was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Until 2009, the Farley Post Office bore the distinction of being the only post office in the United States which remained open 24/7. The building is also famous for bearing the inscription:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Today the Farley Post Office building is largely vacant, and is in the process of being converted to house a new Amtrak concourse. (Train tracks already run underneath the building because mail was once delivered to the station via train, and the the hope is to relieve some of the crowding and congestion of nearby Penn Station.) The Amtrak station located within the post office building will be called Moynihan Station, named in tribute to US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.