New York City has generally been at the forefront of progress throughout the years, embracing new and innovative ways to move people and things throughout the city. But that one time they used pneumatic tubes to shoot cats under the city at 35 miles per hour is one of the weirdest.
At the turn of the 20th century, New York City was bustling with construction and activity (and piles of human crap, look it up). The completion of large state-of-the-art projects like the subway and the Empire State Building saw the population grow so much that New York surpassed London to became the biggest city in the world. To meet the growing postal demands a new project was designed and built that turned the City into something you'd be more likely to see on the 'Jetsons': a 27-mile network of pneumatic tubes that connected the cities post offices.
Like a kid building the most elaborate hamster habitat ever, the city placed tubes at 23 post offices around Manhattan and Brooklyn. The tubes would shoot mail between post offices at a speed of 35 miles an hour - much faster and a lot less likely to ram into your open car door than most of today's bike messengers.
The system launched it's first package which was easily the most American package ever sent: a bible covered in the Constitution wrapped in the American flag. The 2nd package was a peach and the 3rd was a living and breathing cat. The cat made it through the tubes completely unhurt and was used as a proof of concept that live animals could survive the system without harm.
Ultimately the tubes proved to be too expensive for the Post Office, and after World War I and the wide-spread acceptance of the automobile, it was suspended, abandoned, and unused. It fell into disrepair faster than Lindsay Lohan.
Today the remnants can still be found under the city's surface if you know where to look. The Chelsea Post Office has since been sold by the city, but the flanges from where the tubes entered can still be seen. Modern construction will still occasionally unearth more forgotten sections of the ambitious project, but there aren't many hopes of a revival. For now you'll just have to live with the tubes at the bank.