Why outside mailboxes in America?

When I was a kid we lived for a while in a small town (about 200 people) that had that arrangement. You got a box at the post office, and had to walk there in the morning to pick up your mail. We later lived out on a rural route and had a mailbox at the end of the driveway. And the auxiliary plastic box for the newspaper.

A lot of the places where you used to get clusters of mailboxes at road turnoffs are being replaced by a postal-service installed giant box housing individual compartments for all the houses on the road. Some new suburban subdivisions are going to this arrangement, too, with one of those things for all the houses on a block.

One problem with mailboxes at the end of driveways is vandalism - for some reason, knocking over mailboxes is a prime form of entertainment for bored kids in rural areas.

I currently have a slot in my door, which I prefer to sticking a box on the wall outside the door as a lot of my neighbors do.

Let’s not lay the blame on the letter carriers. It comes from higher up. Letter carriers are given bigger routes (for better productivity.) Because each carrier now gets more mail than she can personally carry, they use little trucks. (On rural mail routes, carriers use their own vehicles.) When a neighborhood goes from a box on the porch to a box at the street, it’s by order of the USPS, not the letter carrier. In my town, when such a conversion happens, the PO provides the boxes, and they install the posts. In one new neighborhood near me, the houses are all upscale (over a million dollars.) Instead of boxes at the curb. there’s a big stainless steel block of small locking boxes at one end of the neighborhood. I think that’s an indignity. If you pay a million five for your house, you shouldn’t have to walk half a mile to get your Fortune magazine.

Yep. We have to drive into town to get our mail.

That used to happen in our old neighborhood. There were a couple of high-school kids that would cruise down the road, and the passenger would lean out the window with a baseball bat.

One neighbor got sick of it. He built an “inner box” out of 1/2" plate steel that fit snugly inside his standard-issue USPS-approved mailbox. He then bolted it securely to a piece of 4" steel pipe filled with concrete, and built a cheesy-looking wooden column around the pipe, so everything looked ordinary. A few weeks later, the vandals struck again. They broke the bat, and I’d guess the bat-wielder’s arms didn’t feel too good for a while, either.

Where I grew up it’s either or. There are boxes at the post office that some people use. But you can also have a box at the end of your driveway if you wish (rural area, so mail is delivered by car as a necessity). Some areas do have a unit of several steel PO boxes outside where several people would pick up their mail, generally in an area where there are more houses close together, but for most home owners, it’s either curbside delivery or a trip to the post office.

We did have a problem with vandals once–specifially the kid next door kicking it as he walked past on his way to the bus stop. It was a wooden post and, although it was in concrete, a bit weathered, and it eventually broke. Dad bought a plastic mailbox which covers and is bolted to what’s left of the original post. Added bonus–there’s doors on both ends of the box, so we can get the mail without having to stand within three inches of the road.

I live in a rented townouse in the US. To get my mail I have to walk a couple dozen meters to the mailbox. Only registered or certified mail would be delivered at my door.

I live seven miles outside of a small town which is in turn 35 miles West of St. Louis.

We have roadside boxes located where our gravel sub-division road intersects the county paved road. These boxes are about 1/3 of a mile from my house. I also have a P.O. Box at the P.O. in town. Mail with items such as bills, and important papers are delivered to the P.O. Box rather than sit in an unsecured box along side the road.

No…I live in an apartment complex, though and we have a central place for all the mailboxes. It’s a small room and everyone has keys.

One factor I haven’t seen mentioned here yet is the fact that in many parts of the U.S., the winters are sufficiently severe that you really don’t want a 3" x 8" hole in the middle of your front door letting out the heat. I back this up with the observation that the only house I can remember with a mail slot (which, oddly enough, was in the wall next to the door and dumped our mail into a closet) was in Palo Alto, California.

I had the mail slot in the wall system in my last house. It sucked. Who thought this was a good idea in Minnesota? An uninsulated slot of that size was insane. -30 nights were a treat.

This needn’t be a problem . Most of the mail slots we have here have a hinged flap on the inside and the outside and a brush like fitment ( i.e. a series of long bristles ) inside the slot , that keeps out the cold and draughts .

I used to work at the Post Office.
Home delivery is only done in areas with hight density of mailboxes compared to the distance walked. The regulations gauge it block by block, depending on safe and dry walkways, etc., and there must be conditions of similar characteristics on both sides of the street so that an efficient walking loop route can be created.
You and your neighbors must apply for porch box service, and it is usually denied if there are adjoining areas with roadside service.

Whenever new suburban homes are built, the first few home are always treated to rural service with poles by the road. When more are constructed, a cluster of boxes is prefered. When all houses are built, and dry safe walkways provided, and neighboring areas have porch delivery, then you can apply for that.

Stereotype readjustment necessary. I don’t have statistics at hand, but the majority of single-family American households have door delivery of their mail, not street-side mail boxes.

I actually owned a house in Watertown, Wisconsin, that had the mailbox in the front door. The Postman threw the mail through a slot in the door. It was nice and convenient.

This abomination http://www.mailboxworks.com/cbu.html is the future of residential mail delivery in America. One of these will be placed every 2 dozen houses or so. Very convenient for them to deliver 2 dozen houses’ worth of mail with one stop. Not very convenient for you, especially not in 1/2-acre lot suburbia.

There’s usually one of these http://www.mailboxworks.com/parcel.html located at each “CBU” (communal box unit?). If they have a parcel for you, they put it in one of the lockers & put the key in your locked mailbox. When you get your mail, you use the key to get your parcel & leave the key in the parcel locker for use tomorrow. What happens at Xmas time when everybody is getting parcels? I guess two people get theirs locked up & the rest are left to sit in the snow.

One is not impressed.

My mail comes through a slot in the door. Can’t be beat, IMO, especially if you spend a lot of time away from hame as mentioned. The idea behind curbside delivery, and the other efficient systems, is not to make the letter carrier’s job easier, but to enable each one to deliver more mail.
I had to go to the PO to get my mail whenI lived in Bethel Island, CA. It was pretty quaint and cute at first, but it got old real quick.
Through the door is best, but rates would probably need to go up if all the little people had such service. :wink:

Yes, the new trend (at least around here) is for new housing developments to have apartment style mailboxes. Instead of a mailbox in front of each house, there is a aluminum structure on each street with the boxes for about 30 houses. It sucks because the boxes are only about 1/4 the size of a larger mailbox. I assume this is even more time efficient for the mailman than driving to each mailbox.

Just to add another data point…our house was built about 8 years ago in a neighborhood of older houses…most of the ones around us were built 1880s-1920s, with another set built in the 1950s. Many if not all of the older houses have mailboxes attached to the house, usually on the porch.

When we moved in here (we were the first occupants of our house) I called the local postmaster to find out what kind of mailbox we needed to get and was told we needed an end of the driveway style mailbox, and it had to be within five feet of the road. So older houses are grandfathered so to speak but newer ones need to have the other type.

Our driveway is short too, putting the mailbox on the house would only force the letter carrier to walk an extra thirty feet or so. Add this up over all the houses on a route though and it could be a significant difference in time.

Ah yes. The communal mailbox.

Canada Post stopped arranging house-to-house delivery to newly-built suburbs sometime in the 1980s. Any suburbs built after then were fitted with communial mailboxes every few blocks, which the letter carriers fill from their vehicles.

Existing house-to-house delivery was grandfathered in. As a result, one sign that you are living in a posh older suburb with lots of history and tradition is the house-to-house mail delivery. I’m sure this has an effect on real-estate prices.

Oddly, while I can find lots of pictures of shiny corporate headquarters and whirring sorting equipment and eager young letter carriers delivering parcels and letters on the photographs-for-the-media section of the Canada Post website, I cannot find a publicity photograph of a communial mailbox. For that, I have to look in the Postal Standards Manual.

Magnolia Springs B&B

Their mailboxes are on their docks. Weather normally is not a problem near Mobile Bay.