United States Post Office
Los Angeles Terminal Annex
Terminal Annex in 2008
|Location||900 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, California|
|Architect||Gilbert Stanley Underwood|
|Architectural style||Mission Revival-Spanish Colonial Revival|
|Governing body||U.S. Postal Service|
|MPS||U.S. Post Office in California 1900-1941 TR|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||January 11, 1985|
The United States Post Office – Los Angeles Terminal Annex, located at 900 North Alameda Street in Los Angeles, California, was the central mail processing facility for Los Angeles, from 1940 to 1989.
Across Macy Street from Union Station, the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival building of Terminal Annex, which was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
Construction and opening
Designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, the Terminal Annex was built by the Sarver & Zoss contracting firm from 1939 to 1940. The building was built for the purpose of processing all incoming and outgoing mail in Los Angeles. Though its purpose was principally utilitarian, Underwood sought to keep the building's design in keeping with the city's Union Station, which opened across the street in May 1939. The original building was a three-story structure with two towers and 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of floor space.
The $3 million postal annex opened in May 1940 with 1,632 postal clerks, carriers and laborers responsible for the processing of 2,000,000 pieces of mail per day. The facility, which was kept open 24 hours a day, was equipped with the latest facilities for rapid handling of mail, including conveyors, chutes, weighing machines, cancelling machines, and sorting and facing tables. At the time of its opening, it was considered "the most modern and efficient" post office in the nation. At the formal dedication ceremony in June 1940, the postmaster called the annex a symbol of the achievements of democracy, opening at a time when the monuments of Europe were "being ground in the dust."
Expansion to meet increased volume
Only ten years after its opening, the demands of the city's mail had already outgrown the facility. Accordingly, the Post Office announced plans in 1950 for a $12 million expansion, including an adjoining five-story parcel post building and other structures as well.
Scandals and tragedies
During nearly 50 years as the city's central postal processing facility, the Terminal Annex suffered a number of scandals and tragedies, including the following:
- In 1954, two veteran postal employees were charged with being the ringleaders of two large bookmaking operations operating out of the Terminal Annex. Investigators alleged that 10-15 other employees were involved in the operations.
- In 1970, a postal supervisor was shot and killed at the Terminal Annex by a disgruntled postal clerk. After the supervisor ordered the clerk to leave work for intoxication, the clerk waited outside the annex and shot the supervisor in the back three times as the supervisor ran toward the security desk, calling for help.
- In 1978, a pipe bomb, wrapped in a package, exploded in a sorting room at the Terminal Annex, slightly injuring six postal workers.
- In 1985, a malfunctioning voltage line in the basement of the Terminal Annex caused an 8-1/2 hour power blackout that halted operations at the facility. The power outage resulted in a one-day delay in the delivery of 1.5 million pieces of mail and was front-page news in the Los Angeles Times.
- In 1986, 12 postal workers employed at the Terminal Annex were charged as alleged pushers of both powder and rock cocaine.
Insufficient space leads to construction of South Los Angeles facility
By the 1980s, the operations had outgrown even the expanded facilities at the Terminal Annex. The facility's volume had grown by the mid-1980s to 14 million pieces of mail per day, and the annex was plagued by inadequate space, overcrowding and inadequate work areas. Accordingly, the Postal Service Board of Governors in 1984 approved the construction of a new $151 million general post office in South Los Angeles. Almost 50 years after Terminal Annex became the city's main mail-processing facility, the new processing facility in South Central opened in 1989. Despite the move of the processing facility, the customer service windows in the Terminal Annex's ornate lobby remain open.
When the Postal Service moved out of the building in 1995, it was used as a film location for the motion picture Dear God in 1995 and for the CBS television series EZ Streets in 1996. Producers used the lobby, decorated with WPA murals, to represent City Hall.
It was also turned into a hospital, complete with an emergency room entrance, for the movie City of Angels.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Postoffice Annex Costing $2,000,000 Making Progress". Los Angeles Times. 1939-05-15.
- "Near Union Station". Los Angeles Times. 1939-12-10.
- "New Postal Annex Opens: Washington Officials Inspect $3,000,000 Structure". Los Angeles Times. 1940-05-28.
- "Opening of New Postoffice Set: Operation of New Terminal Annex to Begin at 8 a.m. Tomorrow". Los Angeles Times. 1940-05-26.
- "Postal Annex Dedicated: Building Called Finest of Type in Country; 500 Attended Observance". Los Angeles Times. 1940-06-23.
- "Postal Annex Expansion to Cost $12,000,000: Government Buys Five Acres of Land for Parcel Post and Other Buildings". Los Angeles Times. 1950-02-14.
- "Post Office Suspends Two as Bookmakers: Veteran Mail Clerks Accused as Ringleaders With 10 or 15 More Working for Them". Los Angeles Times. 1954-01-25.
- "Post Office Supervisor Shot to Death; Co-Worker Arrested". Los Angeles Times. 1970-08-14.
- "Bomb in Parcel Explodes at Post Office, Injures Six". Los Angeles Times. 1978-02-03.
- George Ramos (1985-05-24). "1.5 Million Pieces of Mail Undelivered in Power Loss: Delivery Promised Saturday". Los Angeles Times.
- "12 Named as Cocaine Pushers After 5-Month Probe at L.A. Post Office". Los Angeles Times. 1986-06-27.
- Leo F. Buscaglia (1985-05-12). "Living and Loving: Sending a Love Letter to the Post Office". Los Angeles Times.
- George Ramos (1985-05-25). "Terminal Annex Power Blackout Delays L.A. Mail". Los Angeles Times.
- Bob Pool (1996-10-14). "The Mail Lead: Terminal Annex Becomes the Backdrop for a TV Series". Los Angeles Times.
- "2 Post Office Buildings Declared Landmarks". Los Angeles Times. 1985-05-14.