Federal Triangle in Northwest Washington in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Make No Little Plans
— Federal Triangle Heritage Trail —
The imposing Ariel Rios Building opened in 1934 to house the U.S. Post Office Department. Architect William A. Delano, of the New York firm Delano and Aldrich, drew inspiration from Paris and other European cities to design the building's unusual hourglass shape. The building, including a ground-level arcade and a Parisian-inspired slate mansard roof, was intended to face a circular court planned to span 12th Street. The plan, however, required demolition of the Old Post Office. Its destruction was delayed, and eventually the Old Post Office gained landmark status, preventing completion of the circular court.
When this building was constructed, the Post Office Department was among the larger non-military employers in the nation. Postal service dates to 1775, when the Continental Congress, representing the 13 colonies, appointed Benjamin Franklin the first postmaster general. The ability of colonial military commanders to communicate by mail helped them defeat the British during the Revolution. In the new nation, postal service furthered democracy and growth by linking elected representatives with their constituents and businesses
Although the Post Office Department became the U.S. Postal Service in 1971 and moved from the Federal Triangle, the building's plentiful inscriptions, sculptures, bas-reliefs, and evocative interior murals preserve its stories and mission of binding the nation together. The embellishments also remind viewers of the thousands of laborers, artists, and craftsmen who found much-needed work here during the Great Depression (1929-1941).
This building was later occupied by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and renamed to honor Special Agent Ariel Rios, who was killed in the line of duty. It now houses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters.
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 5.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Architecture • Communications. In addition, it is included in the Federal Triangle Heritage Trail, and the Postal Mail and Philately series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1934.
Location. 38° 53.65′ N, 77° 1.72′ W. Marker is in Northwest Washington in Washington, District of Columbia. It is in Federal Triangle. Marker is on 12th Street Northwest south of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. U. S. Post Office Department (within shouting distance of this marker); Arts and Artists (within shouting distance of this marker); Preserving the Past (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Statue of Benjamin Franklin (about 300 feet away); Flags of the World (about 300 feet away); Daniel Patrick Moynihan Place (about 400 feet away); Permanence and Grandeur: Building the Federal Triangle (about 500 feet away); The Division (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Northwest Washington.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 30, 2023. It was originally submitted on July 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 594 times since then and 92 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 6, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 7, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.