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The removal of Midtown’s last public payphone on Monday was met not only with its own hero’s salute, but a citywide wave of nostalgia for what once was New York’s ubiquitous corner landmark.
In addition to the protected “Superman” booths located on West End Avenue, it seems that there are more than a few remaining relics of the analog era. In Midtown itself, there’s a perfect photo-op phone in an old-school wood-paneled kiosk at the New York Public Library (an appropriately retro style for the library’s timeless feel!).
Phones are still reported to work at Union Square Station, where call quality (per reporters from Hell Gate) is said to be clear and you’ll even get charged for long distance!
Over at Barbetta Italian restaurant on Restaurant Row, we couldn’t confirm whether the payphone had been there since the eatery’s 1906 opening, but the staff did mention that the booth is for decorative purposes only — and it is beautifully preserved.
Others noted that there were still plenty of payphones to be found in the outer boroughs.
— even if most of Manhattan’s phone booths of yore had been collected and discarded.
But it wasn’t always this way! This is how New York used to look when there were 13,000 locations citywide.
The archival images harken back to a New York that appeared far less glossy and corporate than the city of today.
It was clear that some phone booths from the past hadn’t exactly been cared for, like this payphone recently removed from W42nd between 8th and 9th Avenue.
And for those New Yorkers who find themselves outside the city limits, you may even come across a payphone or two in the far reaches of the country. This one is in Maine!