carte du réseau des tubes pneumatiques de Paris (1888) ©DR
Pneumatic post or pneumatic mail is a system to deliver letters through pressurized air tubes. It was invented by the Scottish engineer William Murdoch in the 1800’s and was later developed by the London Pneumatic Dispatch Company. Pneumatic post systems were used in several large cities starting in the second half of the 19th century, but were largely abandoned during the 20th century.
The network in Paris was commenced in 1866 by the construction of an experimental line between the telegraph offices at Grand Hotel and place de la Bourse. This was extended in 1867 into a one-way hexagon from place de la Bourse through the telegraph offices rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, rue de Rivoli, rue des Saints-Peres, the Central Telegraph Office (rue de Grenelle), rue Boissy d’Anglas, and back to Grand Hotel. During the following decade single line polygonal systems were linked to this hexagonal system and a double tube (two-way) was laid between Central and Bourse, but the network remained always within the limits of the pre-1791 octroi of Paris, roughly corresponding to the inner arrondissements.