23 May 2011

a USPS facility on the back of a data center

Callowhill and N. 13th St., North Philadelphia. Spring 2011.

Terminal Commerce Building's eleven story high, square-block of data center space at 401 North Broad houses a small post office on the building's backside. After some brief research online, I am not sure if the post office is still in use. Likely the postal facility is a throwback to the building's original use as a furniture wholesale warehouse (click the first link above for more information). Even if the facility is still in use, I doubt this post office sees as much foot traffic today as it did when the building provided space for physical, tangible goods.  This shuttered post office provides an instance of one of the many juxtapositions present in our lives today, where the immaterial connections to other people and places provided through technologies such as a mobile phone and the Internet are more present than the physical connections maintained through a post office and the mail system. This small post office on the backside of the Terminal Commerce Building situates in one location two communication systems: the physical presence of a digital node in the Internet's infrastructural backbone, and a node in the USPS's mail distribution and logistics infrastructure.

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