End of an era in NYC: Last street payphone removed

End of an era in NYC: Last street payphone removed

It was the end of an era in New York City today when the city’s last remaining payphone was removed. The rise of cellphones and smartwatches has left no need for pay phones across the world and many have vanished but one still remained on 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan, until its removal Monday by LinkNYC.

The removal of pay phones in New York City began in 2015, and LinkNYC is the technology that essentially replaced them. LinkNYC, look like digital billboards that offer free high-speed WiFi to the streets of New York. It has facilitated over 3 billion WiFi sessions with more than 10 million subscribers. The digital billboards also display PSAs, art and other local information. Soon LinkNYC will be providing 5G coverage to New York City.

City officials gathered on Times Square to bid farewell in this historic moment. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine shared a video on Twitter of a crane slowly lifting the phone booth with two corded phones separated by a divider onto the bed of a truck.

https://twitter.com/MarkLevineNYC/status/1528763331531657218

Matthew Fraser, commissioner of the Office of Technology and Innovation, described the removal of the last pay phone as bittersweet but acknowledged it was time for the change. “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,” he said in a statement shared with NPR.

The last standing payphone that once stood outside 745 7th Avenue will be brought to the Museum of the City of New York as part of its new “Analog City” exhibit. The exhibit looks back at life in the city before computers.

 

In 2018, after U.K. officials realized the country’s pay phones were largely out of commission, many were removed – but some were refurbished and sold, giving the iconic red booths a second life.

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