10012

The old post office on Prince Street is now an Apple Store

I used to hate it when my mother sent me to the post office when I was a kid.  I’d go in there to send a package for her and EVERY TIME I got to the clerk, he or she would invariably tell me that I had filled out an incorrect form and had me stand aside to fill out a longer and more complicated but correct form.  Or I would be told that I did not have the correct form of ID to claim a package and I would be sent home to fetch it.  I would leave, tears streaming from my eyes, cursing the postal service and their complicated bureaucracy.

Our postal carrier, Audrey, has ONLY been delivering our mail since 1987, so she doesn’t even qualify to be profiled in this blog.  But on Audrey’s watch, something happened that reminded me that SoHo is (or at least WAS) a community of interconnected people and not just a random group of anonymous yuppies.  In the 1990’s I worked for a publishing house at 568 Broadway, on the corner of Prince above Armani Exchange.  A publisher in Korea once sent me a package, but he sent it to an incorrect street address (586 instead of 568, or something like that).  The package should have been sent back to Korea, but, luckily, Audrey spotted it at the 10012 home office and recognized my name.  She took the package and delivered it to my HOME that same day, and the next day, I brought the package in to work.  Now how’s that for small-town service?

Built around 1920 and designed by renowned theater and cinema architect Thomas White Lamb at Prince and Greene Streets, Prince Street Station always seemed too grand a post office for our dirty little neighborhood.  For a long time, it was kind of echoey and gloomy in there, but then the neighborhood began to bustle and, lo and behold, this was precisely when the USPS was forced to close up shop and squeeze the Prince Street Station into what was probably their former supply closet around the corner on Greene Street.  I suppose budget cuts and rent hikes coupled with the rise of FedEx, UPS necessitated this move, but the new abridged, overcrowded, and understaffed post office was just asking for someone to, well, go POSTAL. Then, due to further rent hikes, that office also closed, and we were left with no post office at all.  After 80 years of continuous service, my old post office, following a brief stint as a Restoration Hardware, is an Apple Store.   Stayed by neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, Audrey and her cohort were defeated at last, by none other than Steve Jobs.

P.S. Just as an aside, does anyone remember the key guy who had a little shop right next to the post office on Greene, where Alessi is now?  It was this tiny space and he’d be in there sleeping all day.  He’d wake up every once in a while to make me a key.  And then one day he was gone.  I don’t even remember when.

6 Responses to “10012”

  1. Sean Says:

    Talking about “going postal”!!!

    When the USPS renovated the “supply closet” on Greene Street into which it moved from Prince, their architect had to go to the landmarks committee of our community board for approval regarding some minor exterior alterations, including the windows.

    He noted that the new windows would be bullet-proof in case someone were to shoot into the post office. I quipped, “You sure it wouldn’t be the other way around?”

    When the larger Prince Street space disappeared, so did the FBI’s Most Wanted List (do post offices not display those posters any longer?)

    Also, the Greene Street space never replaced the pay phone that the Prince Street space had, which the Hispanic ladies who worked in the sewing factories, acting as runners who bundled all the daily “numbers” that their co-workers would give them, used to call the 3-digit numbers in to the bookie. There usually would be a lot of bets, so one could hear this litany of numbers being recited in Spanish non-stop for five minutes into the phone. The winning number would be whatever the last three digits of the admission count for Aqueduct was that day, which the papers graciously printed in the sports page.

    The locksmith was Sol. Always sleeping. Often his wife would be there. Sol always wore that blue/grey-colored jacket with large exterior pockets that looked like it was part of some East European paramilitary organization’s uniform.
    His young son had the business for a while, but gave it up. I believe Sol owned the building, which has since gone mostly co-op, although Sol’s family may still own a floor or two, particularly the ground-floor space. But I am not sure. I could find out, since I know people in the building. I think Sol died. He was pretty old back then.

    • Yukie Says:

      Sean- Love the story about the phone booth! And your story about Sol too. Question- Does the USPS own the Apple Store building and rent it out to them? It was built as a post office, so I don’t exactly understand how they could have been pushed out of the building, unless they needed the income from renting it out or selling it to a wealthy tenant.

  2. Jo Gangemi Says:

    I love Audrey. I took a photo of her but I’m not at home so don’t have access to it.
    Audrey is wonderful.
    I was sad when the post office got squeezed and then outraged when it was closed altogether.
    Now the post office is talking about closing lots of other post offices.
    Sigghhh.

    • Yukie Says:

      Audrey rocks! And she has the coolest sunglasses at the USPS–designed by Selima (my next door neighbor). I think she will be retiring soon. Please send the picture when you get back!

  3. Sean Says:

    A real estate company built it around 1928 and leased it long term to the Post Office (why does Ingersoll Realty come to mind?)

    They still own it or else sold it to another realty. You’ll recall that by the 1980s there was a photography gallery on the upper floor, accessed by the little door up the steps on the eastern edge of the building. That rental presaged its future commercial development from community facility to retail use.

    • Yukie Says:

      I knew you’d know the answer to that question! I vaguely remember the gallery. I still do not understand why USPS does not own its buildings. Now you’re going to tell me the Pentagon is actually owned by Corcoran…

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