And sure, this could be an email (all of the same principles would apply), but a letter makes things official in every sense. It also gives you a prop to take along to the face_to_face meeting with your boss, when you let him or her know that you're leaving.
You'll have plenty of time to vent personally about your work grievances as you leave, but really, you stand to gain nothing by putting negativity into your resignation letter. And unless you're leaving the state and your current industry, you always run the risk of running into the same people later on. So you're far better off taking the high road and making sure your exit is a classy one.