Spring Garden Post Office Mural

1299 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia

Update January 2012:
The U.S. Postal Service has announced it is no longer proposing to close the Spring Garden Station. Of fourteen Philadelphia post offices originally threatened with closure in July, seven were granted a reprieve in September. In December, Spring Garden Station and five other neighborhood post offices were removed form the closure list.

Significance: Philadelphia artist Walter Gardner (1902-1996) painted “The Streets of Philadelphia” in 1937 for the Spring Garden Post Office, one of many across the country built as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. The painting depicts a bustling street scene with workers unloading goods in front of the Merchant Exchange on Dock Street. Murals like this one represent an important chapter in American history, when federal policies encouraged the production of art “for the masses” to combat the economic and social challenges wrought by the Great Depression. Gardner was an English-born painter who emigrated to Philadelphia as a teenager and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He also created murals for post offices in Honesdale, Pennsylvania and Berne, Indiana, as well as a large panel for Philadelphia’s Family Court, included in the building’s recent interior designation to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Threat: The Spring Garden Post Office was one of many Philadelphia facilities slated for closure as part of a nationwide downsizing proposed by the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service. It was removed from the proposed closure list in December 2011.

Recommendation: While the threat of immediate closure has passed, the long-term viability of the Postal Service remains uncertain. Any future plans to close local post offices, including Spring Garden Station, should take into consideration impacts to historic resources.

For More Information:
Click HERE to learn more about current threats to the U.S. Postal Service and its legacy of New Deal art and architecture.

Media coverage:

“Postal Service’s list of Philadelphia endangered sites goes from 14 to 1,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2, 2012

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