July 1 is the anniversary of many other “firsts” for the Postal Service as well:
July 1, 1847: The Post Office Department issued its first postage stamps. Previously, letters were taken to a Post Office, where employees would note the postage due (or paid) in the upper right corner.
July 1, 1853: The first printed stamped envelopes were issued.
July 1, 1861: The Pony Express began operating under contract with the Post Office Department as a U.S. Mail route. It had operated since April 1860 as a private express company.
July 1, 1863: Free city delivery was established at major Post Offices.
July 1, 1902: Rural free delivery became a permanent service. The word “free” was dropped in 1906, since it was understood.
July 1, 1924: Regularly scheduled transcontinental airmail service with night flying began.
July 1, 1963: The ZIP Code launched.
July 1, 1971: The United States Postal Service, the successor of the Post Office Department, officially began operations.
For more Postal Service history, check Publication 100, The United States Postal Service — An American History at www.about.usps.com/publications/pub100/welcome.htm.