It's the End of an Era for NYC's Pay Phones

Nearly all of the city's pay phones are about to be yanked out
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2020 10:45 AM CST
'Long Goodbye' to NYC's Pay Phones Just Sped Up
Broken public pay phones are shown on March 10, 2016, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

They used to be a staple on the Big Apple's streets. Now, what Gothamist calls a "planned long goodbye" to New York City's pay phones is finally wrapping up. The site reports that, in the age of smartphones, locals have been griping about the remaining open-air phones lining the city's thoroughfares, complaining that the phones aren't well maintained and pose safety issues. "Additionally, they take up sorely needed sidewalk space that could better serve people with disabilities [and] families with strollers and ease sidewalk congestion," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says. And so all phones maintained by public communications consortium CityBridge will soon be gone, starting with 30 phones being ripped out in Hell's Kitchen—along Ninth Avenue from West 23rd Street up to 57th—by the end of this month.

After that, another 3,000 will be yanked out across the entire five boroughs, per ABC News. Some of the phones will be replaced by LinkNYC kiosks, which offer free phone calls and internet use. And if you still spot an outlier phone unit on occasion? That's because there are a few pay phones not controlled by CityBridge, so they'll stay put for now. There are also four complete phone booths still in place, all on the Upper West Side; one of them inspired the 2010 children's book The Lonely Phone Booth, per the New York Times. (More pay phones stories.)

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