Gone – NYC Phone Booths

Payphones – those public phones once found on every corner and store in any town or city. It was inventor William Gray and developer George A. Long who were both responsible for the very first payphone installation at a Hartford, Connecticut bank in 1889. This great new convenience would increase to 81,000 payphones across the United States by 1902. Then by 1995, there were some 2.3 million public payphones across the United States.

However, after 1995, the handheld, portable cell phone started to come into use. Over the next 27 years, fewer payphones were installed or even maintained. If one needed repairs, instead it was removed and not replaced.

In the year 2022, May 23rd, marked the last payphone that was removed from the streets of New York City. This one – the last was removed from Seventh Avenue and W. 50th street, just south of Times Square. It will be placed in a local museum as an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.

Now, this was NYC, but there are still some public payphones to be found in other towns and cities but not as many as once were. Check-in your own town – look around, you may be hard-pressed to locate public payphones. This is especially true of an enclosed phone booth – those have been gone for a number of years.

Even the famous iconic red telephone boxes of the United Kingdom are fewer. There are a few to be found, but many gone forever.

As has been stated: “Just like we transitioned from the horse and buggy to the automobile and from the automobile to the airplane, the digital evolution has progressed from pay phones to high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communications needs.”

Photo: Removal in May 2022 of NYC payphones from Times Square.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Using a Mobile App

Saying ‘Hello’ on the Phone

Using Telephone City Directories

< Return To Blog Kinda sad! We still have one at our store as we live in an area without cell service. We used to have one at the gas station, too, but that's long gone.
Sara N Martin 15/06/22

Many traditional items gone over the years.
alice 15/06/22

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