End of an era: Last street payphone in New York City removed

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Workers remove the final New York City payphone near Seventh Avenue and 50th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on May 23, 2022. - The city began removing payphones in 2015 and replacing them with public Wi-Fi hotspots. There are still four permanent full-length so-called Superman booths. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

The NYC payphone is now a relic of the bygone days. City Officials bid farewell to the phone booth as a crane ripped it off the Manhattan sidewalk.

Farewell, Payphone

Farewell, Payphone

Monday marked the end of the iconic New York City payphone system as the last standing one was removed from Time Square Street. City officials bid farewell to the coin-operated payphone as a crape ripped it from the sidewalk at Seventh Avenue and West 50th Street. It also marks the completion of the decade-long effort of replacing outdated technology with LinkNYC kiosks. The new kiosk offers free WiFi, mobile device charging, and domestic calling, in addition to 911 and 311 access.

Mark Levine stated that he hopes the new alternative to payphones will make technology more accessible for New Yorkers. Levine is the President of Manhattan Borough. “I won’t miss all the dead dial tones. But gotta say I felt a twinge of nostalgia seeing it go,” he tweeted. The Midtown phone will find a home in the Museum of the City of New York as a memory of the bygone past.

A time before cell phones took over, a new exhibit “Analog City: NYC B.C. (Before Computers)” opened last Friday.

LinkNYC kiosk marks a new beginning for NYC

LinkNYC  kiosk marks a new beginning for NYC

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, New York City started requesting proposals to replace payphones in 2014 with new infrastructure. CityBridge’s proposal for building a LinkNYC system was chosen and they started swapping out old payphones in 2016. By 2020, the city was successful in sending most of the outdated technology to the scrapyard.

As of 2020, the city administration was successful in removing over 7,500 public phones and replacing them with 2,000 LinkNYC kiosks. New Yorkers expressed their nostalgia on social media. “If you grew up in the city in the 90s and 00s, you knew the struggle of using one of these. It is now a historical artifact,” tweeted Dandia Asad. Another user wrote, “not me crying over a pay phone” with a crying emoji. Moreover, it was the last public phone under the city’s ownership. However, there are a few private payphones remaining in public and enclosed spaces. They escaped removal and are along the West End Avenue on the Upper West Side of the city.