The five-digit ZIP code used in the US was rolled out nationwide in 1963. ZIP — which stands for zone improvement plan — codes enable mail to be sorted and delivered more accurately and efficiently. The U.S. Postal Service typically allocates ZIP codes to cities and communities, according to geography and population. But there are also unique ZIP codes that apply only to a single building, institution, company, or government department. Let’s take a look at five notable U.S. buildings that have been allocated their own ZIP codes.
Empire State Building – New York, New York
Several skyscrapers in Manhattan’s Midtown or Financial District have been assigned a unique ZIP code because of the high volume of mail they receive, and the Empire State Building is one such example. When the monumental Art Deco skyscraper was finished in 1931, its 102 floors were a groundbreaking achievement, and people flocked to ascend what was then the world’s tallest building.
Today, numerous companies occupy the more than 2.8 million rentable square feet of its commercial floors. They all receive a lot of mail. As a result, the Empire State Building is the only place in New York to have the ZIP code 10118. Over in Chicago, the same is true for Willis (originally Sears) Tower — there, you’d need to use the ZIP code 60606.
The White House – Washington, D.C.
President George Washington picked the site for the White House in 1791, and John Adams was the first President to move in before the building was even completed. If you’re looking to send a letter to the current President (though email is preferred), the address is: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20500.
Various four-digit suffixes can be added to this primary ZIP code to reach a more specific addressee. You might use 20500-0001 for the President, for instance, or 20500-0002 for the First Lady. Several previously allocated White House ZIP codes are no longer in use. For instance, when former First Lady Hillary Clinton was in office, she could be reached by using the ZIP code 20500-0030. Back then, even Socks the Cat had his own code — fans could have written to the Clinton’s lovable pet at 20500-0010.
General Electric Plant – Schenectady, New York
In 1889, Thomas Edison based his Edison General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York. When the company merged with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric three years later, the headquarters initially remained Upstate. The company later moved its headquarters to New York City, but the plant — and its iconic monogram logo — have remained Schenectady’s most recognizable landmark.
The plant also has one of the most easily memorized ZIP codes in the country: 12345. Early on, the company was inundated with mail, so the U.S. Postal Service assigned them a different ZIP code than the rest of Schenectady. In 2020, the memorable ZIP code was the subject of a question on Jeopardy, though the contestant unfortunately answered incorrectly. Coincidentally, many children write the 12345 ZIP code on their letters to Santa Claus, so during the holidays, the company fields a team of volunteers to reply on Santa’s behalf. Templates are used to save time, but each response is personalized.
Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles, California
Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is the nation’s third-oldest Major League Baseball stadium. When it was built between 1959 and 1962, the hills and houses of the surrounding Chavez Ravine neighborhood were flattened to make space. In June 2009, Dodger Stadium became the first sports venue in the U.S. to have its own ZIP code. (Houston Astrodome was allocated a unique ZIP code, 77230, while it housed evacuees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but this was only temporary.)
Prior to the change, in October 2008, the L.A. City Council designated the property as Dodgertown. The following year, 90090 replaced the existing ZIP code, 90012, which had been shared with other buildings in the local area. In honor of the occasion, Los Angeles Postmaster Mark Anderson threw the first pitch before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies kicked off.
Walmart Headquarters – Bentonville, Arkansas
Retail is another industry where you’ll find businesses large enough to require a unique ZIP code. Retail giant Walmart is headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, and there’s even a museum dedicated to the company’s history in the city. In 1962, company founder Sam Walton opened his first store in Rogers, a few miles outside Bentonville. The company expanded rapidly; by the end of the decade, it had opened 18 Walmart stores (and a further 17 Ben Franklin stores) under its umbrella.
Today, Walmart is a global company with over 11,000 branches in 28 countries. For an organization of that size, it makes sense that the volume of mail at its headquarters would warrant a unique ZIP code, in this case 72716. The company is in the process of constructing Walmart Home Office, a sprawling new campus covering about 350 acres of land previously used for Walmart offices and warehousing.