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There are 41,704 ZIP Codes in the U.S. Do You Know What ZIP Means?

No matter where you’re from, you’re likely familiar with the concept of a postal code. That string of numbers and/or letters at the end of your address that designates just where in the heck your address actually is.

The origin of Zip Codes actually came from postal district numbers or postal zone numbers that helped mail carriers find their way within larger municipalities.

  • London and Liverpool were among the first cities to be divided into these designated sectors, but by the end of World War I they were spread throughout the world, coming to the US in the 1920’s, and eventually used in all major cities by the end of World War II. It was somewhere around this time that the concept of a ZIP code came into existence.
  • Ever wondered exactly what the ZIP in ZIP code stood for?  ZIP code stands for ‘Zone Improvement Plan’ and was brought into existence.
  • They started out just being used to make sure mail was sent to the right place and keep things flowing smoothly. Since then they’ve been utilized in a lot of different ways, including emergency services direction.
  • When ZIP codes were first introduced in 1963, their use wasn’t mandatory.
  • The U.S. Postal Service commissioned a 15-minute long educational film led by the musical group The Swingin’ Six. It featured music, comedy, and even romance, juxtaposed with a leaden-faced appearance from the Postmaster General of the United States.
  • In keeping with a tradition of using cartoon characters to raise social awareness, the Post Office also commissioned an artist to create their new mascot: Mr. ZIP. In character form, he signified a new generation of speed and accuracy.
  • Only the President, the first lady and Smokey the Bear, have their own ZIP code. Oh, and of course Santa Claus. The POTUS’s ZIP+4 code is 20500-0001, while the FLOTUS is 20500-0002.
  • U.S. Forest Service mascot Smokey Bear. Between his popularity as an advertising icon and interest in the real live Smokey (an orphaned bear cub rescued from a 1950 forest fire) at the National Zoo in Washington D.C., he received so much mail that he was granted his own ZIP code of 20252. Although this ZIP code was eventually decommissioned in 1993, it was recently brought back by popular demand, as he still gets letters from children across the US.
  • Santa Claus, who fittingly has the Canadian postal code of H0H 0H0. No such luck in the US however, where letters to Santa go to the actual town of North Pole, Alaska and its ZIP code of 99705.
  • ZIP codes aren’t just assigned at random: each digit has a specific function. The first digit, from 0 to 9, places a mailing destination in one of ten broad mailing regions of the United States. The next two digits narrow down this destination to a central Post Office for a smaller region such as a city. Finally, the last two digits defines the destination further to a local Post Office.
  • Some entities are so large or specialized that they have their own ZIP code, including the Empire State Building, Dodger Stadium, the CIA, and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
  • The White House (20500)
  • General Electric Company (12345)
  • Educational Testing Service Headquarters (08541)
  • One Penn Plaza, New York (10119)
  • Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Ave, New York (10118)
  • 101 Park Avenue, New York (10178)
  • Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles (90090)
  • Sears Tower, Chicago (60606)
  • Over the years, ZIP codes have been placed on many kinds of buildings and townships.
  • Some of the most interesting include:
    • Glendale Galleria, California (91210)
    • This shopping centre is so huge it needs a ZIP code.
    • Barefoot Bay, Florida Mobile Home Park (32976)
    • A mobile home park in Florida which is so big it has its own ZIP code.
    • Houston Astrodome (77230)
    • After the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005, thousands of residents sought out shelter in the Houston Astrodome as they had nowhere else to go. The mail service decided to give the Astrodome its own ZIP code so they could get mail!
    • Mine in Centralia, Pennsylvania (17927)
    • A large coal mine located in Centralia, Pennsylvania used to have a ZIP code. It was revoked in 1992.
  • There are 41,704 ZIP Codes in the country.
  • ZIP Codes range from 00501, belonging to the Internal Revenue Service in Holtsville, NY, to 99950 in Ketchikan, AK. Easiest to remember? How about 12345, a unique ZIP Code for General Electric in Schenectady, NY?


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