In the days before telephones and the internet, the Post Office was a mark of civilization and a link to the rest of the world. Derek Watkins created a video to illustrate its expansion.

The debates of today are about which branches will be closing. But at one time, the expansion of the Post Office was a big part of the American push across the west.

The video shows the expansion of the Post Office from 1700 to 1900. The map fills starting in the northeast and then along the Atlantic coast. After starting a march to the midwest, the Gold Rush starts expansion along the Pacific. By 1900, the map is well-filled.

What will the map look like 50 years from now? Will the Post Office still be a mark of civilization, or just a sentence in the history books?

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master’s in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Dupont Circle. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.