In a sign of the changing times, the last functioning payphone in New York City has been removed.
Workers on Monday uprooted the vestibule from its location near Seventh Avenue on 50th Street in Midtown Manhattan near Radio City Music Hall and loaded it onto a truck to be shipped off to the Museum of the City of New York, where it will be on display as a part their "Analog City" exhibit. Once a ubiquitous fixture of the city's urban landscape, the payphones have steadily been phased out over the past decade and replaced by the much more compact LinkNYC kiosks. Looking to meet today's needs, the kiosks come outfitted with free WiFi, an emergency button, charging ports, digital maps and more.
“As a native New Yorker, saying goodbye to the last street payphone is bittersweet because of the prominent place they’ve held in the city’s physical landscape for decades,” commissioner of the Office of Technology and Innovation, Matthew Fraser, said in a statement. “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 payphones to high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communications needs.”
Given the decline of the landline and proliferation of mobile smartphones, the eradication of payphones was perhaps inevitable, but the moment still feels a tad bittersweet. According to LinkNYC, while there may no longer be any freestanding payphones in the city, there will still be four “Superman booths” (which are akin to your more traditional concept of what you would picture a phonebooth to look like) left standing, but it is unclear whether or not they will functional or just corner-dressing.
On the positive side, as Manhattan Borough President did point out, at least we no longer have to fish in our pockets for quarters to make a call anymore.
END OF AN ERA.— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) May 23, 2022
NYC’s last free-standing pay phones removed this a.m. in Times Sq. (7th Ave & 50th St.).
No more fishing in your pocket for quarters.pic.twitter.com/ZtRhzWPp4G
Photo via Getty/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY/ AFP