Pneumatic Tubes Carry Correspondence Through Office Building (Jul, 1929)

Pneumatic Tubes Carry Correspondence Through Office Building

INTER-OFFICE correspondence is shunted about from one. floor to another with lightning-like rapidity, thanks to the pneumatic-tube system of transferring messages, recently installed in the new skyscraper of a New York insurance company. The various tubes shown in the photo below lead to different offices in the building. If a message from the fifth floor must go to an office on the twelfth, it is shot to the dispatching room shown in the picture, where attendants insert it in the proper tube and it is pneumatically delivered to its destination.

  1. PoppyJoe says: August 24, 20113:51 am

    When I was a kid in the 50’s in small town Delaware, the local department store used the tubes for payment. You selected your items and went to the department’s counter. The bill and your money were magically carried away to some mysterious cashier deep in the dark recesses of the store, and in a few minutes, the tube came zipping back with your change.

    Now the only place I see them is at the local bank for the drive-in window…

  2. John W says: August 24, 20113:53 am

    The first time I saw a pneumatic tube in action, I thought “That would be great to have a tube in the house and have it linked to all the fast food places nearby!” Although, now that I think about it, pizza would be a challenge…

  3. Mike says: August 24, 20114:03 am

    PoppyJoe, I remember something similar in New York state. I was too young to remember the details but I remember being amused and following the trail of tubes to the second floor. I am not sure if it was for special transactions, or all transactions.

  4. Charlie says: August 24, 20117:20 am

    John W: Like this? http://blog.modernmecha…

  5. M.S.W. says: August 24, 20117:30 am

    “John W” – The Pizza would probably – evolve – into a calzone for tube service 😉 Only down side would be you wouldn’t want to recieve a order of soda/pop/coke through one of these. Chocolate milk would be perfectly mixed though 😉

  6. George says: August 24, 201111:35 am

    And the richer companies had wider pipes that could handle multiple messages at once.

    (I remember a local store that had a similar system but it was driven by cords over pulleys.

  7. Andrew L. Ayers says: August 24, 201111:40 am

    @PoppyJoe: Pneumatic tube systems are common in some big-box retailers; I know (at least here in Phoenix), they have them at the Home Depot stores, the Lowes stores, and the Costco stores. I think they use them mainly for change requests (when the cashier needs more dollar bills or coin rolls for their till).

  8. Charlene says: August 24, 201112:51 pm

    Pneumatic tube systems are also common in hospitals, where they’re used to transport samples to the lab and drugs to and from the pharmacy. One hospital I know also uses them to send containers of used sharps to a centralized disposal.

  9. Charlie says: August 24, 20111:07 pm

    New York also used to have a system of pneumatic tubes connecting a number of post offices http://www.aqpl43.dsl.p…

  10. Toronto says: August 24, 20112:01 pm

    Ah, yes, the NYC USPS “Cat Subway.”

  11. Hirudinea says: August 24, 20112:49 pm

    They were once planing to make full sized Pneumatic Tube subways, but they never caught on, that sucks! (Or blows, or whatever pneumatic tubes do.)

  12. George says: August 24, 20113:27 pm
  13. jayessell says: August 24, 20113:49 pm

    Thanks George!
    I saw most of those images on the wallpaper of the like named sandwich shop.

  14. Andrew L. Ayers says: August 24, 20117:53 pm

    @George, jayessell: Here’s a link to “book” about the whole system, trials, travails, legal issues – the whole nine yards; it’s actually fairly interesting:… 🙂

  15. fluffy says: August 24, 20118:12 pm

    I can’t believe this has been up for hours and nobody has yet said:

    “The Inter-Office is a series of tubes.”


  16. Daviplane says: August 25, 20111:44 am

    The Cash Railway Website is a nice place for obsolete office delivery technologies (pneus, ropeways, lifts, even hollow wooden balls, etc.) :…

  17. jayessell says: August 25, 20114:56 am

    Thanks for the cash railway link.
    It reminds me of this:…

  18. Sean says: August 25, 20117:51 am

    My dad is a banker and, when I was little, I’d spend hours playing with the teller tubes when I’d stay there after school. And yes, I certainly wondered why we didn’t have them in the home!

  19. Robert says: August 26, 20112:08 pm

    I worked in a room like that at the old University of Michigan hospital (long ago razed and replaced), when I was in high school back in the 1970s. Mostly they used the tubes for medications and for sending out the daily patient census. It was stupefyingly boring after the novelty wore off, except for fooling around with the high pressure hose that was used to clear blocked tubes.

  20. Darren says: September 11, 20117:04 pm

    Sux to lose your job to email.

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