Stanford University
Mapping U.S. Post Offices in the Nineteenth-Century West

(launch interactive map)

By the close of the nineteenth century the U.S. Post had extended its reach into nearly every city, town, and hamlet in the country. No other public institution was so ubiquitous and so central to everyday life; dropping off a letter or checking for mail at the local post office was a ritual shared by millions of Americans from Connecticut to Colorado. This visualization maps the spread of the postal network on its western periphery by charting the opening and closing of more than 14,000 post offices west of the hundredth meridian. It allows the user to visualize the shape of the network for any period of time and how those patterns changed over the course of the century.

The visualization was built using D3.js by Jason Heppler, Cameron Blevins, Jocelyn Hickox, and Tara Balakrishnan. Special thanks to Elijah Meeks for additional technical help.
Spatial History