New York City removes its last surviving payphone

Watching the end of a bygone era dependent on coins, officials held a sort of send-off ceremony earlier in the day for the last surviving pair of standalone payphones on the streets of New York. Located at Seventh Avenue and 49th Street, Midtown’s dual-phone kiosk was the last of its kind to operate before its removal, making it the very end of a long sweep of the city’s roughly 8,000 payphones which started in 2015. .

Although the once ubiquitous NYC payphone is now off (or maybe not?), some private telephone booths on the public domain remain. There are also still a modest handful of full-length, old-school public phone booths, all located on the Upper West Side. Although few, the presence of these few remaining phone booths is Something, and good news for nostalgic New Yorkers yearning to relive the thrill of frantically emptying their pockets while fumbling for change so they can check into the office, hook up with a clandestine lover, or discuss pressing matters with their doctor. . (As noted CBS Newshowever, it is unclear if these phone booths are even in use.)

Many high-traffic outdoor spots that were once public payphone sites now house LinkNYC (or Links) kiosks. These accessible sidewalk telecommunications hubs – slash digital billboards – are equipped with Wi-Fi, USB charging ports for devices, and microphone-equipped keyboards or tablets where users can make free calls nationwide. The kiosks, which were first introduced by consortium of technology companies CityBridge in 2014 following a design competition and formal tendering process launched by former Mayor Bill of Blasio, also provide weather and transit alerts as well as one-touch access to a social services directory and emergency call. button.

The installation of kiosks began in 2016 and there are now 1,860 active links spread across the five boroughs. There are plans to expand the program further, with a focus on bridging the digital divide by bringing free and plentiful 5G coverage to underserved neighborhoods outside of Manhattan through new Link5g kiosks. The design of the next-generation kiosks, which will be significantly taller than standard links in order to provide adequate 5g service, received limited approval from the New York City Public Design Commission last year.

“As a New York native, saying goodbye to the last payphone on the street is bittersweet because of the prominent place they’ve occupied in the city’s physical landscape for decades,” said Matthew Fraser, commissioner of the city’s new mayor’s office of technology and innovation. said in a statement shared by CBS News. “Just as we have gone from horse and buggy to automobile and automobile to plane, the digital evolution has moved from payphones to high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks to meet the demands of our communication needs. ever-changing daily life.”

The pair of payphones removed from service today will be on display at the Museum of the City of New York as part of its recent opening Analog City: NYC BC (before computers) exposure. You can pay tribute until December 31, the closing date of the exhibition.

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