Sometimes all you need is a creative mind, the right time and moment, and you will get very rich.
The basic idea behind the Cutler mail shoot is quite simple. At the eighties of the 19th century building became higher and higher, not building horizontally but rather vertically. It’s the beginning of big sky scraper buildings. And obviously that was a lot of work for the postman to collect the mail starting at the top and working his way down. Cutler invented a simple shaft, where everyone could put their mail in and it would drop in a mailbox, and the postman only had to collect the mail from this box.
James Goold Cutler received U.S. Patent 284,951 on September 11, 1883 for the mail chute, and patented every change he made, up to 40 patents. And that was a very clever move. He made all the big mail chutes for all tall buildings, because he had the patent to this design.
But that is not all. Cutler worked together with some of the architects of the buildings to make the exterior of the mailchute box different and blending in the style of the building. Buildings currently using mail chutes in New York include the Chanin Building, Trinity Building, Empire State Building, Port Authority Bus Terminal, and in Boston the historic Lenox Hotel in the Back Bay.
In more recent decades, buildings such as Chicago’s John Hancock Center, the Chrysler Building, and the old RCA Building in New York City have shut down their chutes. The reason is the increase of modern mail rooms in the building lobby with associated mail boxes available for the building tenants. Also since 1997 the National Fire Protection Association has banned mail chutes in all new building construction.
Well all inventions have a limited amount of time, but Cutler’s Mail Chute was an example of how a simple invention can make you rich.