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Zip Codes

Why Do Some Buildings Have Their Own Zip Codes?

ZIP codes are a type of postal code used in the United States and other countries. Individuals who mail letters or packages through the United States Postal Service (USPS) must include the code in their address. This five-digit code ensures that parcels arrive at their destination as soon as possible. But did you know that large buildings have their own ZIP Code?

Large Buildings need their own ZIP code, but this is due to the sheer volume of mail they receive, not the size of the building. The Walmart Headquarters, for example, has a one-of-a-kind ZIP code: 72716 because of the amount of mail they get.

What Does “ZIP” Mean?

ZIP is the abbreviation for Zoning Improvement Plan, which was created by the US Postal Service. The code was created by the postal services in the United States since they lost most of their staff to the war. 

They devised this system to help their staff sort and deliver mail more efficiently. (Source: Woman’s Day)

The ZIP Code History

Back in the day, before the creation of the Zip Code, mailing addresses were not regulated by the Postal Service. You could have used the recipient’s street address and the city and state, but there would have been no ZIP Code. The mail was hand-sorted, and delivery depended on the intended recipient’s local knowledge. 

The system improved over the colonial era when people relied on friends and merchants to deliver messages, but the improvement was not as significant. (Source: My Mailhouse)

How were Postal Districts Established?

After 1940, as the use of the postal system increased, efforts were made to simplify the sorting and delivery process. In 1943, a method of postal districts for major cities was established. 

Each section was assigned a one- or two-digit code, which senders would insert between the city and state names. This aided, but the increased volume of mail soon necessitated mechanization. (Source: My Mailhouse)

How was the ZIP Code Created?

In 1961, the United States Postal Service increased efficiency by implementing the Nationwide Improved Mail Service (NIMS) system. NIMS standardized the physical dimensions of envelopes and the shape limitations of packages, allowing for mechanization. 

Postmaster General Edward Day took Philadelphia Postal Inspector Robert Moon’s proposal for postal district code improvements and launched the Zone Improvement Plan or ZIP codes. The two-digit city coding system was expanded into a five-digit system with three digits for the general geographical area, followed by the two-digit city district code in this plan. When addressing mail, the ZIP code is placed at the address’s end, after the state. (Source: My Mailhouse)

Why Do Large Facilities Have Their Own Uniques Zip Codes?

Unique ZIP Codes are assigned to governmental agencies, universities, businesses, or buildings that receive enough mail to warrant the assignment of exclusive ZIP Codes. 20505 for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington DC and 81009 for the Federal Citizen Information Center of the United States are two government examples. 

The General Services Administration (GSA) is headquartered in Pueblo, Colorado. Towson University is served by the ZIP code 21252, an example of a university-specific ZIP code. The headquarters of Walmart, for example, has a private address with a unique ZIP Code (72716). (Source: Princeton University)

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