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UPS From 1930-1980


Expansion1930 - 1952

In 1930 UPS extended its reach to the East Coast when it began consolidating the deliveries of several large department stores in New York City and Newark, New Jersey. However, trends during the 1940s and 1950s prompted UPS to redefine itself. During World War II, fuel and rubber shortages induced retail stores to curtail delivery services and to encourage customers to carry their packages home. Nonetheless, UPS still continued to grow.

This trend continued after the war, as much of the population began migrating into the suburbs, buying cars, and shopping at large new shopping centres with ample parking lots. Though UPS had continued to expand its retail store services throughout the 1930s and 1940s, by the early 1950s it was clear that contract service to retail stores was limited. Therefore, UPS managers began looking for new opportunities while the core business remained focussed on retail delivery.

They decided to expand UPS services by acquiring common carrier rights to deliver packages between all customers, both private and commercial. This decision placed UPS in direct competition with the US Postal Service, and in direct opposition to the regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). In 1952, UPS decided to begin common carrier operations in cities where they could do so without the authority of state commerce commissions and the ICC. In 1953, Chicago became the first city outside California in which UPS offered common carrier service.

At the same time, UPS decided to use legal means for extending its operating authority in California. This led to a series of unprecedented legal battles (taking place before regulatory commissions and courts) for UPS to obtain the proper certification for operation over areas wide enough to satisfy growing public demand for its unique services. Over the next 30 years, UPS pursued more than 100 applications for additional operating authority.

Air Service

Air Service1953 - 1974

While one part of UPS was striving for greater access to ground routes, another part was resurrecting UPS´s access to the air. In 1929, UPS became the first package delivery company to provide air service via privately operated airlines. Unfortunately, due to a lack of volume (caused in part by the Great Depression) the service was ended in the same year.

In 1953, UPS resumed air operations, offering two-day service to major cities on the east and west coasts. Once again, UPS packages flew in the cargo holds of regularly scheduled airlines. Called UPS Blue Label Air, the service grew, until by 1978 it was available in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii.

The Golden Link

The Golden Link1975 - 1980

While broadening its services, UPS was also expanding into new territories. Today, fast, convenient delivery service is available coast-to-coast and around the world. But in the 1950s, UPS was restricted from operating in many parts of the country. In some cases, senders were forced to transfer a package between several carriers before it reached its final destination. Federal authority was needed for each state border that was crossed and each state had to authorise the movement of packages within its borders.

Over three decades (1950s-1970s), UPS systematically fought to obtain authorisation to ship freely in all 48 contiguous states. Finally, in 1975, the Interstate Commerce Commission granted UPS the authority to begin interstate service to and from Montana and Utah and to extend statewide its partial service areas in Arizona, Idaho and Nevada. UPS was also authorised to connect service in these five states with existing service on the Pacific Coast and with all states to the east. As a result, UPS became the first package delivery company to serve every address in the 48 contiguous United States. This historic convergence of service areas became known within UPS as the “Golden Link.”

UPS Time Capsule


UPS Time Capsule 1930-1980

UPS expands to east coast. Retail store delivery operations begin in New York, New York and Newark, New Jersey.

Market conditions influence UPS to expand common carrier service in California.

UPS resumes air operations. Blue Label Air provides two-day service to Chicago, Detroit, and several major cities on the east and west coast.

First interstate expansion of common courier service. UPS serves areas of five states within 150-mile radius of Chicago.

Common carrier service begins in parts of New England, New York and New Jersey.

UPS forges "Golden Link," becomes first package delivery company to serve every address in the 48 contiguous United States.

Blue Label Air service expands to Alaska. UPS provides air service to all 50 United States.