Helen Soros works the new pneumatic tube system to take cash at Marshall Fields store in Chicago, November 1947.

Helen Soros works the new pneumatic tube system to take cash at Marshall Fields store in Chicago, November 1947.

Long before the Internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye, a different series of tubes helped shuttle messages from one place to another, seemingly by magic.

Long before the Internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye, a different series of tubes helped shuttle messages from one place to another, seemingly by magic.

Pneumatic tube delivery system- Possible geek alternative to a laundry chute or dumb-waiter

Pneumatic tube delivery system- Possible geek alternative to a laundry chute or dumb-waiter

The New York City Pneumatic Mail System delivered mail through 27 miles of pressurized tubes from 1898 to 1918.

Underground Mail Road; Modern Plans for All-but-Forgotten Delivery System

The New York City Pneumatic Mail System delivered mail through 27 miles of pressurized tubes from 1898 to 1918.

The first pneumatic tube mail system was installed in Philadelphia in 1893. New York City’s came in 1897. Each tube could carry between 400 and 600 letters and traveled at 30-35 miles per hour. In its full glory, the pneumatic tubes covered a 27-mile route, connecting 23 post offices.

The first pneumatic tube mail system was installed in Philadelphia in 1893. New York City’s came in 1897. Each tube could carry between 400 and 600 letters and traveled at 30-35 miles per hour. In its full glory, the pneumatic tubes covered a 27-mile route, connecting 23 post offices.

Pneumatic tubes, like those used by Winston, were actually used in the late 19th and early 20th century

Pneumatic tubes, like those used by Winston, were actually used in the late 19th and early 20th century

June 1943. Washington, D.C. "Miss Helen Ringwald, employee at the Western Union telegraph office, works with the pneumatic tubes through which messages are sent to branches in other parts of the city for delivery

June 1943. Washington, D.C. "Miss Helen Ringwald, employee at the Western Union telegraph office, works with the pneumatic tubes through which messages are sent to branches in other parts of the city for delivery

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