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THE CITY AND THE DEPARTMENT.
HE visitor to Washington City descries the
pure, constant, beautiful monument and the dome of the majestic Capitol as he rides into town. He goes to his hotel, or visits his more or less hospitable relations. Then he begins the task of seeing the sights. He has allotted to him so many days in which to see such a number of sights, and that makes it a mathematical certainty that he must see such a number of sights per day. He visits the vaults of the Treasury Department, where the millions and millions of gold and silver coin
are piled in great sacks; spends an hour or two at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where the revenue stamps and the greenbacks are manufactured; rides to the top of the Monument and looks down upon a city of a quarter of a million people nestling in a hundred thousand trees and breathing easier in the shade of three or four hundred parks, big and little. He almost certainly wanders over to the White House, is taken through the parlors and the East Room, and formally, and with as much dignity and self-possession as possible, shakes the President by the hand; or, if he knows his Member or his Senator and appreciates his own importance to that patriotic representative of his locality, secures a personal introduction to the Chief Executive in his library upstairs, and finds better occasion for passing the time of day and better excuse for boasting to his neighbors of the tremendous successes of his latest journey away from home. The visitor no doubt spends a good part of a day at the Capitol, gazing upon more unique and stately things and familiarizing him
SACRED MOUNT VERNON.
self with more statesmen than he can describe in a year's time.
He looks in at the Pension Office, where, under the massive pillars and the barn-like roof, they dance at the great inauguration balls. He rides behind the lazy, loquacious African driver, -unless, of course, his very hospitable relations put their private carriages at his disposal, or his patriotic representatives similarly favor him. He glories in the view from Fort Myer, the view of Washington City, lying on the bank of the sluggish river, surrounded by woods and hills, feels the pathos of the national burial place at Arlington, lingers by the porch of Lee or the grave of Sheridan. He drives to the Soldiers' Home, perhaps, and wonders whether that beautiful reach of field and lawn
or the shades of Arlington satisfy him most. He surely devotes a day to sailing down the river, to sit and muse at the venerated home of Washington and stand reverently by the great man's grave.
sometimes finds occasion to leave this beaten track of sentiment and historic beauty for things more present and practical. He misses quaint old News
paper Row, misses, perhaps, the delicious fried chicken at Hancock's. But he studies the objects in the museums, tires himself out in the libraries, in the Patent Office, in the Smithsonian Institution, He goes to the Navy Yard and examines the enormous gun plant, and, if fortune favors, finds a proud, new cruiser, lying, sleepy but relentless, in the lap of the Eastern Branch. Then, if the visitor has time, he wants to see the Dead Letter Office in the Post Office Department, a thing which he has read about, and just to catch a glimpse ” of the Postmaster General, a man whom he has read about. The Department and the man are more of interest than the stranger has imagined. The Department touches every several person of all the millions in this whole country. It touches millions, indeed, in other countries.
The man inspirits all this boundless public service. 7 The building of the Post Office Department occupies a square bounded by Seventh and Eighth, and E and F Streets, northwest; that is, it is in the seventh square west of the Capitol, and in the fifth one north of the reservation extending westward from the Capitol to the Monument. The structure has a basement and two principal stories, adorned, as an architect would say, with monolithic columns and pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The material is white marble from Maryland and New York. The building was begun in 1839 from designs by Robert Mills, and it was finished in 1855 by Thomas U. Walter. No doubt it would have cost less than $2,150,000 if it had not been so many years in progress. Most of the offices of the Department are quartered in this building. Five important offices in addition, however, are required to be rented: the Busch building, directly opposite the Department building, on E Street, at $11,000 a year; the structure at the corner of Eighth and E Streets, which is occupied by the Money Order Division and by other bureaus, at $8,000 a year; the Mail Bag Repair Shop, on C Street, a fine, partly new brick structure opposite the rear of the National Hotel, at $5,000 a year; the old skating rink on E Street, between Sixth and Seventh, which is occupied by the Division of Supplies, at $4,000 a year; and the Topographer's Office, at 418 and 420 Ninth Street, at $1,500 per year. These outside quarters have been rented from time to time, according as particular postmasters general have been persuasive enough, and particular Con
gresses have been generous and falsely economical enough, for the forced accommodation of some of the hundreds of workers in the departmental service. Successive Congresses have been sufficiently importuned to enlarge the present Department building, or to provide a new building and turn the present General Post Office over to the uses of the Interior Department, which is even more cramped in its present quarters; or, in short, to provide in some logical, public-spirited, and prudent way for the growth of this enormous postal service — which cannot be prevented from becoming every