“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” ~Inscription, James Farley Post Office, NYC
On September 7, 1914, the James A. Farley Post Office building – the main post office in New York City – was opened to the public. On the front of this building is an inscription supplied by William M. Kendall of the architectural firm that planned the building. The Farley Post Office is home to “Operation Santa,” made famous in the classic 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street.
Contrary to popular legend, the U.S. Postal Service has no official creed or motto. (I’m surprised that Ben Franklin, the first Postmaster General, didn’t make something up!) But the USPS did use the above motto as part of a longer message in TV commercials aired after the 2001 anthrax mailings and events of September 11, 2001.
The “neither snow nor rain” quote is actually derived from Herodotus’ Histories, and it refers to the courier service of the ancient Persian Empire. Herodotus was a Greek historian and traveler who lived circa 484 BC – 425 BC. The original quote reads as follows:
“It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.” ~Herodotus
The Histories of Herodotus is considered the most important work of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known around the Mediterranean and Western Asia at that time. It is one of the only surviving accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, and the Greco-Persian Wars. Although historical records and chronicles existed beforehand, it was Herodotus’ Histories that established the genre and study of history in the Western world.