Geek Trivia: ZIP code of honor


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Who’s the one fictional character ever to be granted a U.S. Postal Service Distinctive ZIP code, a distinction usually reserved for firms, universities, and authorities companies which might be routinely deluged with excessive volumes of mail delivered to a single tackle?

There is no simpler joke on the earth than one criticizing the U.S. Postal Service for being sluggish. How sluggish? It took them 19 years to resolve to implement the service’s most profitable course of enchancment in its historical past: the Zone Enchancment Plan (ZIP) code. Postal inspector Robert Moon submitted the unique proposal for a numerical ZIP in 1944, however the U.S. Postal Service did not get round to implementing non-mandatory ZIP codes till July 1, 1963. And also you thought second-class parcel service strikes a bit of sluggish.

So what have been these zones that Moon needed to enhance? Starting in 1943, the U.S. Postal Service assigned one- or two-digit numerical zones to main cities in order that put up workplaces serving these areas may extra rapidly decide to which a part of, say, New York Metropolis a letter was headed. Moon needed to preface these enumerated zone numbers with a three-digit code for the sectional heart facility that bulk processed the mail for every space. To today, ZIP codes nonetheless comply with this basic sample. The primary three digits point out a processing facility, and the final two digits point out a supply zone — often a neighborhood put up workplace that serves the supply space.

In 1983, 20 years after implementing the then-optional ZIP codes, the U.S. Postal Service adopted the still-optional +four ZIP codes for extra precision. The +four codes would possibly symbolize a supply space as discrete as a metropolis block or a single residence constructing.

The above guidelines apply largely to Commonplace ZIP codes, however there are three different varieties: P.O. Field-only ZIP codes, Navy ZIP codes, and Distinctive ZIP codes. The Distinctive ZIPs are for particular buildings or places that obtain such a excessive quantity of (or such highly-sensitive) mail as to require particular dealing with. For instance, the White Home is assigned ZIP code 20500, regardless of being bodily situated in ZIP code 20006. The primary processing heart for the Instructional Testing Service — by way of which passes each SAT packet ever graded — has the Distinctive ZIP code 08541. Various company HQs, authorities workplaces, and main universities have Distinctive ZIPs, however solely as soon as in its lengthy and cautious historical past has the U.S. Postal Service ever granted a Distinctive ZIP code to a fictional character.


Try extra Geek Trivia

Which of the Trivia Geek’s lots of of Geek Trivia columns—written over a virtually eight 12 months interval spanning a number of codecs and makes an attempt at cancellation—represent his private high 10? These gems.

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Who’s the one fictional character ever to be granted a U.S. Postal Service Distinctive ZIP code, a distinction usually reserved for firms, universities, and authorities companies which might be routinely deluged with excessive volumes of mail delivered to a single tackle?

Our imaginary celeb is none aside from Smokey Bear, the enduring ursine advocate of forest fireplace prevention. Smokey was created in 1944 by the Advert Council as a mascot for fire-prevention efforts throughout World Warfare II, when lumber was a essential struggle useful resource. He grew so extremely in style within the early 1960s — and thus obtained so many letters from his followers — that, in 1964, the U.S. Postal Service granted him his personal ZIP code: 20252. By that time, a Distinctive ZIP code was small potatoes for Smokey; in 1952, the Smokey Bear Act was handed by Congress to take him out of public area and place his picture below the management of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, in perpetuity.

(Two asides: Sure, there was an actual Smokey Bear. No, his identify was not Smokey the Bear. The true Smokey was an American Black Bear cub rescued from a hearth in Lincoln Nationwide Forest in New Mexico in 1950. He was named after the fictional Smokey and lived for greater than 25 years on the Nationwide Zoo in Washington DC. His stays are interred at Smokey Bear Nationwide Park in Capitan, NM. The “the” in Smokey’s identify just isn’t right or official. The particular article was positioned in Smokey’s identify for lyrical functions in a 1952 hit track by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, which has led to some confusion, however Smokey’s center identify just isn’t the.)

To this point, Smokey is the one fictional character to obtain a Distinctive ZIP code, largely as a result of the U.S. Postal Service prefers to route mail addressed to such figures to actual, humorously applicable addresses. For instance, mail addressed to Santa Claus (assuming he is fictional) is routed to the put up workplace in Santa Claus, Indiana (although the Common Electrical facility in Schenectady, NY typically will get its share, because of its 12345 ZIP code, which many individuals assume is the ZIP code for the North Pole).

That is not just a few parsimonious parcel parsing, it is a superb epistolary instance of Geek Trivia.

The Quibble of the Week

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Editor’s notice: This text was first revealed in July 2008. It was republished in March 2019 to incorporate the checklist of Jay Garmon’s high 10 favourite Geek Trivia posts.

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