Berlin once had a very special technical attraction: the pneumatic dispatch system (1865–1976), with its 90 stations and 400 kilometres of tubes, was the second largest of its kind in the world after Paris, and it's technology was exported on a large scale.
The heart of Germany's pneumatic dispatch industry was located at the river Spree, exported it's products to many European countries and across the oceans, especially to South America. This fascinating chapter of underground mailing and communications history is almost forgotten nowadays, with most of the tubes having been dug up. The few remaining stations are acutely threatened by the immense building and investment activities currently taking place in Berlin – blurring the memory of a system which played an important part in Berlin's development into Germany's leading metropolis with international status.
Almost forty years ahead of it's big sister, Berlin's “little metro” already buzzed through the underground, delivering up to eight million dispatches annually, at times operating 24 hours around the clock. The mail delivered by pneumatic dispatch took only about an hour to reach the addressee – even modern bike couriers cannot match that performance! This most innovative technology has, unjustifiably, nowadays largely been forgotten.
In operation: 1865–1976
Extent: 400 kilometres
Purpose: Pneumatic dispatch of letters and cards
Condition: Dismantled, few stations still exist, not open to the public
“Luft-Züge – Die Geschichte der Rohrpost in Berlin und anderswo”
(Air trains – The history of pneumatic dispatch systems in Berlin and elsewhere)