Address Your Best: Numbers Running, House Hunting, and Looking for the Right Address

hand-drawn address marker on brick wall
Have you seen the back? “Apt 2 in back”! (in the back). One of many terrific handmade or otherwise extraordinary address markers. Bloomfield

December, here we are. We can now see our breath on every pre-dawn constitutional as November’s mild, sunny weather has finally given way to real winter temperatures. Snow has been minimal, so far, but shovels and salt stand at the ready for the inevitable. Trees are fully divested of their leaves. Figs have gone to ground.

All around us The Twinkling has begun—lights in Christmas green and red, but also “electric icicle” white. Plastic figurines are set up to either celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or make offerings to the candy cane gods—take your pick. Draped on bare trees and outlining front porches, all those tiny LED bulbs act as sentinels to the night. It’s coming, they sing in quiet unison to an audience with no option, whether you want it or not.

In short, we are officially in what retail workers, mail carriers, and delivery drivers call the most wonderful time of the year.

hand-painted sign directing to apartment access
439 Apts 1 & 2, Oakland

It’s likely The Orbit‘s convivial readership will have plenty of visitors to their homes over the next few weeks. Hopefully some of those will bring glad-tidings, along with the requisite maids a-milking and geese a-laying. If you’re lucky maybe Uncle Joe will break out the myrrh—it’s just not the holiday season without myrrh.

Others will climb your front steps on business. Envelopes stuffed with year-end brag letters and pictures of golden children will come for many. Thousands—millions!—will receive packages ordered from enormous operations full of plasticware produced far, far away. Amazon doesn’t offer real live swans a-swimming for sale—yet—but that feels like merely a matter of time. If you’re lucky, a friend will send you something truly special by U.S. Mail.

This isn’t the start of the holiday season—that kicked-off right after Valentine’s Day—so let’s call the first week of December the beginning of peak Christmas. For that, we’re sending this photo collection out to all the folks visiting all the addresses with all the things while many of us get to sit cozy, work a puzzle, and fall asleep on a couch as the television spools out one myth after another.

Hand-Delivered

former barber shop with address painted on front door
4825, Garfield (since demolished)
home address marker created from stickers and stenciled spray paint
348, Lawrenceville
residential mailbox hand-painted with address
5428, Lawrenceville
House front door with address repeated in many ways
179 ½ 179 ½ 179 ½ 179 ½, Lawrenceville
hand-painted mailbox with Pittsburgh Steelers emblem
2nd flr, Sharpsburg
handmade sign on front door window directing mail delivery to mail slot
2133, Perry Hilltop
house with address markers crudely painted on basement masonry walls
469 FL 2 / 469 FL 1/Apt 1, Polish Hill
hand-painted residential mailbox
4703, Bloomfield
exterior door with handwritten address above mail slot
six twenty five, Bloomfield
three mailboxes with hand-painted sign for the addresses
215 Ella Street, Apt. 3-5, Bloomfield
hand-painted address sign outside brick house
247 Albert, Mt. Washington
hand-painted residential address painted on ceramic tiles
2828, Strip District
hand-painted address marker for rear appartment
4632 Rear, Bloomfield
hand-painted address sign next to mailbox
Apt B, Monongahela
hand-painted address marker on mailbox
316, West Homestead

Paint on Brick

hand-painted address on masonry wall
4209, Bloomfield
hand-painted home address on masonry
752, Hill District
hand-painted address marker on brick wall
701, Homewood
residential address number painted on masonry
5312, Lawrenceville
address marker with different house numbers carved into masonry and painted on
326 / 382, Lawrenceville

The Art of the Address

stylized address painted on front door of house
3210, Polish Hill
hand-painted address sign feature Polish eagle emblem
3059 Pulawski Way, Polish Hill
hand-painted address sign feature Polish eagle emblem
3060 Wiggins St., Polish Hill
Home address created with mosaic
1212, Spring Hill
home address sign in "boomerage modern" style
3432, Polish Hill
address for Italian Restaurant with image of chef carrying a large bown of pasta
424, West End

Corporate House Numbers Still Suck!

home address written on cardboard and taped to house
312 ½, Bloomfield
home address hand-written on paper, inside Ziploc bag, taped to front door
161 43rd Apt 1, Lawrenceville
home address written on cardboard, stuck inside Ziploc bag, and stuffed behind mailbox
161, Lawrenceville
address sign written on disposable plate
Apt 2, Carrick
home address written on wall shingle
3908, Lawrenceville
house number written on cardboard attached to front door of home
498 First St use back door, West Elizabeth
home address drawn on blue painter's tape attached to front door
5231, Lawrenceville
steel door with handwritten address above mail slot
4913 1/2, Lawrenceville
wooden gate with handmade address sign
5417 Rear, Lawrenceville

Old School Cool

older door with custom address marker set into window
330, Polish Hill
hand-painted address marker on brick wall
810 Concord, East Deutschtown
fading address marker painted on wood
4845, Lawrenceville
house front door window with address numbers in glass
4610, Bloomfield

Vestibuler’s Day Off: Package Delivery Post-Its with the Most-Its

instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
The ghost of Christmas past. Please leave all boxes etc. in screen door. Package delivery instructions, Bloomfield

In the back. That’s where Pittsburgh wants its packages delivered; not out front, right on the street. That is, unless the request is to place items Over the gate, Through the gate, Behind the gate, or Inside the gate, under the awning.

Some want their deliveries In the vestibule, Inside the door, or In the screen door. Others are more specific: On side of house on table, one; Up the side steps in front of the door, another; a third: Please bring floor 2 packages to side door up stairs down walkway.

hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door of house
Leave packages inside the door. Garfield

We’re redirecting deliveries Next to the large wooden planter box, Under the mailbox (behind the flower pot), Next door, At the Cricket store, and Across the street at People’s Grocery.

We also set conditions on our parcels: Please place light packages over the fence; heavy packages go here [who decides what the light/heavy threshold is?] and Please, if package fits, place between doors OR deliver to side door thru gate at right.

Some of us believe our carriers have special secret knowledge. Mail Courier: Please deliver the letter in my mailbox to the correct address … this is not it.

messages for package delivery written on wooden front door of house
PLEASE place light packages over the fence / heavy packages go here. Lawrenceville

Being a delivery driver cannot be easy work—especially right now, mid-pandemic, as the Christmas season officially gets into high gear, and when just about everyone is ordering from the Internet—at least, some of the time.

We’ll add the obvious aside here, that this is all one more reason to shop locally and independently as much as one can. The money you spend close to home supports local businesses, stays in the community, and creates the kinds of Main Streets populated with life that pretty much everyone wants to see.

hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door of house
Please open door + put packages in vestibule. Garfield

There are many many stories of Amazon drivers who are unable to take bathroom breaks, monitored by cameras their entire workday, and docked points for taking a drink of water or changing the radio station.

Amazon’s drivers are reportedly given 30 seconds to make each home delivery. That’s not a lot of time for anything, let alone to stop the vehicle, locate and scan the package, haul it to the customer’s front door, and get back to the van. Now, imagine if the delivery address includes a note requesting packages not be left at the front door, but instead be taken “to the back,” or “up the steps,” or “to the side door through the gate.”

mailbox with hand-written instructions for package delivery
PLEASE place big packages inside door. Bloomfield

It’s a lot to ask—even when the instructions pretty much always include please and thank you—but the reasons homeowners make these requests is obvious, too.

If you live in a row house—as your author does and where almost all of today’s photos were taken—there is often no separation between the sidewalk and one’s front door. A package delivered to the front steps is as exposed as something left right on the street. It is effortlessly easy for the most part-time of thieves or teenage pranksters to pick up that intriguing brown cardboard box, pop the corn, and make an evening of the random possibilities that await within.

instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
ATTENTION!! Do Not Leave Packages on Steps. Please put all packages to your right next to the large wooden planter box. Lawrenceville

It’s a conundrum—one the home builders of the late 19th century could never have anticipated. So called “porch pirates” are their own well-known menace, even when they’re not targeting row houses. Today—just spitballin’ here—architects are probably integrating some kind of hidden/protected package receiving area right into the fronts of new housing the way the automobile was welcomed into the home in the 1950s and ’60s.

hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door
Please put all packages inside door. Bloomfield

So with Black Friday behind us and Santa’s elves already packing for non-stop December deliveries, let’s all consider the overwhelmed and under-valued “last milers” who bear the brunt of all that Amazon Prime “free” shipping. They may not be able to “put all packages inside the gate under the awning,” and that’s O.K.

instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
To: postal persons and UPS persons. The door is opened. You can put the packages in the door… Johnstown
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door of house
Please leave packages inside the purple door. Garfield
handwritten sign reading "Mail Slot" taped above mail slot in front door
So that’s what that’s for! Mail Slot. Lawrenceville

Package/Gate or Packagegate

instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please put all packages inside the gate under the awning! Polish Hill
message for package delivery written on paper attached to glass front door of house
Please—if package fits—place between doors OR Deliver to side door thru gate at right. Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please drop packages behind gate. Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Act I: The request. Please place packages over gate. Lawrenceville
note attached to gate reading "Thank you"
Act II: The gate. Thank you. Lawrenceville

Take a walk on the porch side

instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Mail slot is on side of house by gate. Troy Hill
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please put packages on side of house on table. Millvale
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please deliver packages to the side porch. Lawrenceville
handwritten message for package delivery taped to front door of house
Please bring floor 2 packages to side door up stairs, down hallway. Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Place packages up the side steps in front of the (?) door. You can reach me … Polish Hill
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to glass door
Please place packages on side porch. Bloomfield

Have you seen the back?

instructions for package delivery painted on wood scrap
Please deliver packages to back door through gate on Cedarville. Bloomfield
instructions for package delivery taped to front door
Deliveries around back please. Bloomfield
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to brick wall
Please leave packages in Back. Lawrenceville
mailbox with hand-written instructions for package delivery
Please deliver packages to back door. Bloomfield
hand-written message with package-delivery instructions taped to front door of house
Please deliver all packages in the back. Bloomfield
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door of business
Please leave packages in the back. Garfield
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door of house
Please leave all packages at the back garage. Garfield

Not here, not now

instructions for mail carrier written on paper taped to mailbox
Mail Courier: Please deliver the letter in my mailbox to the correct address … this is not it. Lawrenceville
hand-written message with package-delivery instructions taped to front door of house
Please leave packages for 4207 Main St. on porch of 4211 Main St. Bloomfield
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please use Willow Street entrance for all deliveries: mail—food—packages. Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery written on front door of residence
Please use side door Apt 1A. Do not leave pkgs here. Monongahela
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to glass door
Please leave packages at Cricket Store if no one is home. Bloomfield
hand-written instructions for package delivery taped to front door of house
If you have a package and there’s no response on the Ring, please send to our neighbor across the street @ People’s Grocery. Garfield
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please use other door and mailbox. Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
FedEx, UPS please leave packages next door. Strip District
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Do not leave packages here! Lawrenceville

Someone is home: find them!

instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
“Delivery person” Ring bell to the right for 15-30 seconds. I am alway at home during the day. (sic.) Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Ring doorbell and knock loud. Repeat both. Repeat both. Bloomfield
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Giant Eagle delivery: ring bell or call on phone. Millvale
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Please ring door bell. Please don’t leave packages on steps or in the back. Come back if need to. Lawrenceville
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Delivery person please knock hard on back door!!! Homestead
instuctions for mail and package delivery taped to front door of residence
Someone IS home for signatures … please find adult … Troy Hill

Special thanks to Orbit faithful Paul and Mark who came up with “Vestibulers Day Off” and “Post-Its with the Most-Its,” respectively, when your author was unable to think of anything nearly as clever. It’s always Snark Week with those two.