New York’s last public payphone from the street

The city’s last public payphone was removed from a Times Square street Monday.

City officials said goodbye to the iconic coin-operated phone booth when a crane tore it off the sidewalk at Seventh Avenue and West 50th Street Monday morning.

The phone’s removal marks the conclusion of the city’s nearly decade-long effort Replace outdated technology with LinksNYC kiosks, that offer free WiFi, national calls, mobile device charging, access to 911 and 311, and other amenities.

Mark Levine, President of the Borough of Manhattan, who was present at the payphone removal, said he hopes its replacement will bring fairer access to technology to New Yorkers. Though he admitted his removal was bittersweet.

“I won’t miss all the dead dial tones, but I have to say I felt a pang of nostalgia when I heard it,” he said on Twitter.

Removal of the Times Square payphone
New York City removed its last working payphone on Monday.
Removal of payphones in New York City
Pay phones are being replaced by kiosks offering free Wi-Fi and phone top-ups.

The city, under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, issued a call for proposals in 2014 to replace payphones with new infrastructure that offers free 24-hour public Wi-Fi.

Company CityBridge’s proposal to build a LinksNYC system was selected that same year, and the city began swapping out old payphones for the new LinksNYC screens in 2016.

Most of the city’s payphones were sent to the scrapyard by 2020. More than 7,500 of the payphones were replaced by approximately 2,000 LinksNYC kiosks at the time.

Removal of payphones
The payphone will be housed in the Museum of the City of New York.
AFP via Getty Images

The Midtown Payphone is sent to the Museum of the City of New York as a pre-cellular relic. The Analog City: NYC BC (Before Computers) exhibition just opened last Friday.

New Yorkers looking for a bit of nostalgia on the city streets are not entirely unlucky, however.

“Anyone who grew up in the city in the ’90s and ’00s knew the struggle of using something like this,” Dandia Asad wrote on Twitter. “It is now a historical artifact.”

Another social media user simply wrote, “I don’t cry over a payphone” along with the crying emoji.

The payphone removed Monday was the last public payphone owned by the city in the Big Apple. A few private payphones remain on public property, and four closed payphones have been permanently preserved from removal along West End Avenue on the Upper East Side. New York’s last public payphone from the street


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