The faded blue U.S. Postal Service collection box on the corner of Tulip Street and Park Boulevard in the Garden District has been there for more than 30 years.
Bolted down on a block of cement, the mailbox is rusted at the bottom and splashed with pink and green chalk graffiti on two sides.
In the age of email, texting and online bill paying, the box isn’t used as much as it was a decade ago, and might be considered a relic by some wired technophiles.
There are 105 blue collection boxes scattered around East Baton Rouge Parish, said Mckinney Boyd, the U.S. Postal Service’s spokesman for Louisiana.
Three years ago, there were 111 in the parish.
In that same period, the number of blue mailboxes dropped statewide from 2,213 to 1,474, and nationwide from 365,000 to 165,000, Boyd said.
How often a collection box is used determines its fate, Boyd said.
“We have no plans to remove all of the blue boxes,” he said. “We remove them based on how much mail is dropped off there.”
A density test determines if 25 or more pieces of mail are dropped in the box during a 12-day period, Boyd said. If not, the collection box is marked for removal.
“If it can save us money on the cost of gas or labor (to remove an under-used box), we’re going to do it,” Boyd said.
Park Boulevard resident Emily Meyer, who lives in the corner house right behind the blue box at Tulip Street and Park Boulevard, said people use that mailbox all the time.
“It’s very popular. I think people use it 15 times a day or more, she said.
Meyer called the blue box in front of her Garden District house a landmark — one she uses sometimes to tell friends how to get to her home.
Still, Meyer, 27, who said she uses email and pays her bills online, said she would miss the blue box if the Postal Service ever decides to remove it.
“I’d be kind of sad if they took it away,” Meyer said. “I use it for personal letters. There’s something about it that makes us feel like we live in a city.”
Boyd said technology is definitely one component contributing to the gradual disappearance of the blue mailboxes.
“That’s a strong element but that’s not the only reason people don’t use the boxes as much anymore,” Boyd said. “A lot of customers will choose to drop off letters or bills at post office locations because they feel that’s a safer environment.”
Garden District resident Heather Holcombe, 28, stopped her vehicle at the corner of Tulip Street and Park Boulevard recently to drop off mail before heading to BREC’s City Park Dog Park.
“I normally have some stamps on me, so I use it for personal mail,” Holcombe said.
Although Holcombe pays her bills online, she said she’s glad the blue collection box is there.
“I like it and appreciate it,” she said. “I like the way it looks, too. It’s comforting.”
Another blue mailbox in Baton Rouge sits at the corner of Horace Street and Billy Heroman’s Flowerland on Perkins Road, between the Poets and Philosophers neighborhood and the Hundred Oaks community.
Richard Dennis, manager of the Perkins Road Billy Heroman’s, said the blue box, which sits to the side of his store, is used at least a dozen or more times a day.
“People are always pulling up and getting out of their cars to drop mail off,” Dennis said.
Also, the small businesses in the area like to use the box, Dennis said.
“I guess I’m indifferent if the Post Office decided to remove it, but it is well used,” he said.
Dennis also said he has gotten customers who walk in the store as a result of visiting the mail box.
“I think it would be missed if they removed it,” Dennis said.