Art Deco car, train, ship and plane on Post Office.

Art Deco relief work shows female above propellers of airplane.
Art Deco relief work shows female flying above propellers of airplane.

“Through science and the toil of patient men, the nation’s thought traverses land and air and sea.” Those are the words inscribed along the top of downtown San Diego’s Post Office, on E Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. Beneath the words are nine terra-cotta panels created by Archibald Garner in 1937. The Art Deco images include a car, train, ship and airplane, the means by which mail has been delivered over many decades, transmitting the written word across the nation and around the world.

Titled “Transportation of the Mail,” Garner’s handsome panels were the result of a Department of Treasury competition. Like most Post Office public art created during the New Deal, the work was funded through the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture, also known as The Section of Fine Arts. The post office itself was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and stands across the street from the now closed old Central Library. You can see a few interesting photos of the library here.

View of San Diego's downtown Post Office from Ninth Avenue.
View of San Diego’s downtown Post Office from Ninth Avenue.
Ship cuts through ocean waves on its way to deliver the mail.
Steamship cuts through ocean waves on its way to deliver the mail.
Distinctive Art Deco train can be seen near roof of San Diego's old Post Office.
Distinctive Art Deco train can be seen near roof of San Diego’s old Post Office.
Historically interesting panels, which appear at the top of high windows.
Historically interesting panels, which appear at the top of high windows.
Classic automobile in Art Deco artwork in downtown San Diego.
Classic automobile in Art Deco public artwork in downtown San Diego.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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