Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Almost Twins

Two months after celebrating my 50th birthday, I learned that the ZIP Code (Zone Improvement Plan) was doing the same, having entered the world on July 1, 1963. The lengthy PSA shown above was part of the roll-out of a new addressing system that was intended to move the mail quicker and more reliably. Josh Sanburn describes the origin of the ZIP Code and the promotion effort in some detail for Time magazine.

As song and dance, the PSA is so weak that it is amazing ZIP ever got off the ground. As geography, though, this 15-minute presentation is relatively sophisticated in its explanation of the causes of postal delays and the advantages of a remedy we now take for granted.

Because ZIP Codes were later adopted by the Census Bureau as a common unit of reporting, the term has become almost synonymous with "neighborhood," especially when drawing comparisons on such factors as household income.

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