A Historical Treasure

A Historical Treasure

Soon after the Civil War ended in 1865, five grand Federal buildings were ordered to be built in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, the fastest-growing cities in America, to accommodate expanding Federal offices burdened by post-war Reconstruction.

The new buildings served an important psychological function as well, to instill confidence and pride in the government of our newly reunited United States.

Though Missouri paid dearly during the war, the city of St. Louis was flush. Over $160,000,000 had been spent here provisioning the Union army, and it showed. “The Gateway to the West”, St. Louis was a boomtown.

From the day it opened in 1884, the Post Office in this building served as the main conduit for commerce and correspondence to and from all points west. Hundreds of millions of pieces of mail were handled here the first year alone, and all by hand!

This building was home to the Federal 8th Circuit Court, which grew to be the largest circuit in the nation by 1891. It covered ten states and four territories, and spanned 1,000 miles east to west. With jurisdiction over 11 million people by the end of the 1890s, the Courts in this building were teeming with activity.

Old Post Office
St. Louis' U.S. Customs House and Post Office as photographed in the 1920s.
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