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March 2, 2011 / Linda Hartong

GOING POSTAL IN CARMEL

Carmel by -the Sea decided it would have the character of an Urban Forest and that decision has shaped its inhabitant’s life style.

Because  existing trees are not  be cut down, sidewalks were banned in residential areas. This did not please the US Postal Service.

NO SIDEWALKS- NO MAIL DELIVERY!!

Carmelites were not distressed. They would simply go to the Post Office ,if it would not come to them.

 

And so they gather at the Post Office to get the mail and catch up on the news and gossip. Conversations started                   that were often finished over a cup of coffee at a nearby restaurant.

 

 

 

 

Since there was no mail delivery , there was little need for addresses. Early residents established the custom of giving names to their homes instead.

It is, by the way, bad luck to change the name on a Carmel cottage.

 

Those seeking directions receive hints such as “fifth house on the east side of Torres Street, blue trim, driftwood fence” . Others just use the geographical  address .

 

When I want something shipped to my Carmel home, I must send it to my geographical address such as “Monte Verde 4 SW of 8th”. That translates to a building on the West side of Monte Verde Street four properites south of the 8th Ave. intersection. Try getting a computer to recognize that. I reassure the Post Office, Fed Ex, or UPS and they gamely send it on its way. And it does arrive.

 

Now all these  complicated rules only apply to the  1 sq. mile called Carmel-by-the Sea. If you see a street address on a home, you are in Carmel proper. Not everybody wants to have a home without an address!

 

 

I believe that recently provisions have been made for home delivery of mail for those in Carmel-by-Sea who are disabled and can not go to the Post Office. I was at City Hall and overheard an irate man demanding that his neighbor remove a new address from her house.  And I quote, “She walks everywhere. She can darn well get to the Post Office”.

If you need to mail anything in Carmel, the Post Office is at Dolores St. and 5th.

For fun I “googled”  reviews of this post office and found that the word “adorable” is used by many to describe the handsome brass mail boxes.

One woman, raised in a rural community, said she was overwhelmed by happy childhood memories of going to the Post Office with her mother.

Such is the magic of Carmel!

 

“The Postal Service is the most visible and ubiquitous federal institution in America. … The daily visits that citizens make to local post offices have shaped the development pattern of many towns. Business districts have grown up around post offices, allowing postal customers to shop, dine, and take care of other needs in one convenient area. ”

— from Edward McMahon’s, Public Buildings Should Set the Standard, in the Winter 2001 issue of the Planning Commissioners Journal

 

 

 

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are copyright (c) Linda Hartong. All rights reserved.

You may not use any image on this site without my written consent. If you are interested in using a photo from my website for any purpose, please send me a quick message and let me know which photo(s) you are interested in.

 

8 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. jeanette sclar / Mar 2 2011 9:35 pm

    Just the fact that everyone willingly goes to the post office to save the trees makes this place magical!

  2. Monica de Moss / Mar 6 2011 9:45 pm

    I love the idea that the Post Office becomes an impromptu meeting place. The more you write about Carmel-by-the Sea, the more I want to visit. I love the customs you’ve talked about so far.

  3. Jacqui / Mar 8 2011 7:30 pm

    That looks like Heaven to me!!

  4. David Hathaway / Jul 21 2012 9:26 pm

    One reason they didn’t want addresses is they were anti-government. They didn’t want the gov’t to be able to find them.

  5. Ann / Dec 18 2012 7:36 pm

    No sidewalks? How hazardous is getting about the town on foot, as you seem to? Do people walk a lot, and how does the town discourage drivers smushing pedestrians walking on the roadway, may I ask?

  6. H Fink / Aug 2 2016 5:06 pm

    Hi Linda, I would like to use a few photos of the post office shown on this page. but I can find no way to get ahold of you per your “Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are copyright (c) Linda Hartong. All rights reserved.

    You may not use any image on this site without my written consent. If you are interested in using a photo from my website for any purpose, please send me a quick message and let me know which photo(s) you are interested in.”

    please let me know how I can email or reach you. thanks.

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