Who Was Philip B. Downing?

Who Was Philip B. Downing?

How inconvenient would it have been if we had to walk or drive to the post office everyday to mail off letters or anything for that matter? Well Philip B. Downing was an African American inventor that filed at least five patents with the US Patent Office, but best known for his two most significantly recognized inventions we use today. The street letter box, and the operating street railway switches.

Philip had a long career in Boston, Massachusetts as a postal clerk. In 1891, his two patents for a street letter box was submitted and approved. Downing’s design resembled a hinged door to drop letters in which his idea was to prevent rain or snow from damaging the mail. Now widely recognized as that bright blue USPS drop box.

Not only did he invent the street letter box but years later, in 1917, he would receive another patent for an envelope moistener, to quickly moisten envelopes!

Thank you Philip for your brilliant inventions making our lives easier.

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