Symbolism alert: A telephone building houses equipment for phone calls, but pulls the plug on its pay phone

This Verizon central office in Ridgewood, Queens, is one of those robust buildings the Bell System constructed back in the day to shelter its large, imposing switching equipment that made phone calls possible.

Verizon, the custodian in New York of the Bell legacy, has made an interesting point about the state of the landline business by making a certain modification to the facade of this building. They pulled out the pay phone, as you can see from its tell-tale shadow left on the wall.

Couldn’t it have stayed there — devoid of dial tone — for old time’s sake?

Text and photos: Rolando Pujol

At Grand Central Terminal, the bell tolls for this group of pay phones

In the three months The Retrologist has been around, I’ve been periodically documenting the slow death of the pay phone.

I submit another example. This row of pay phones at Grand Central Terminal once housed 11 units. Clearly, the demand isn’t there.

Only six remain, and it’s not hard to imagine this will be a blank wall soon. It’s interesting to think of the countless conversations that have been had along this wall.

And there are certainly fewer every day.

Text and photo: Rolando Pujol

Hello? They took away the pay phone, but left behind the sign

The metal sign for Verizon is still in place on the downtown platform of the No. 6 train at 23rd Street. But where is the pay phone?

Well, if you’re a Retrologist regular, you know the drill. It’s gone and it isn’t coming back.

But I’m happy the Verizon sign was left behind. If it’s left there for years, as it may well be, it will become an inscrutable totem that will puzzle tomorrow’s straphangers.

It’s probably already puzzled the yung uns, if they even notice the darned thing.

Text and photo: Rolando Pujol

This pay phone is “out of order” …

… and it’s hard to think it will ever be back “in order,” especially considering it’s an old Verizon phone, and the Ma Bell descendant has pulled out of the pay phone business in New York. 

This relic awaits removal at the New York Public Library branch on East 96th Street.

Text and photo: Rolando Pujol