A vintage sign in the subway  advises us to call 911 in an emergency. Good luck doing that. Only the traces of the pay phone remain on the column. Well, at least the station has WiFi! #payphone #urbanarchaeology #retrologist #subway #wifi #nyc

A vintage sign in the subway advises us to call 911 in an emergency. Good luck doing that. Only the traces of the pay phone remain on the column. Well, at least the station has WiFi! #payphone #urbanarchaeology #retrologist #subway #wifi #nyc

These pay-phone kiosks are sleek and futuristic, but failed to predict a future without the device they were constructed to hold. #payphones #relic #urbanarchaeology #obsolete #futuristic

These pay-phone kiosks are sleek and futuristic, but failed to predict a future without the device they were constructed to hold. #payphones #relic #urbanarchaeology #obsolete #futuristic

Beneath Lincoln Center, the music has died for this pay phone

I’ve written extensively on The Retrologist about the pay phone’s long goodbye. I submit another example of this communication platform on its deathbed. 

I snapped this photo a few days ago in the 66th Street Lincoln Center subway station. As you can tell, the pay phone is long gone, pulled out with no replacement presumably on its way.

Until recently, the subway was the scene of the pay phone’s last stand. Recall that you could rarely get a signal down there, and so you’d have no choice but to slip a quarter into the coin slot if you had to tell someone you were running late. 

But that survival advantage didn’t last long. Cell phone service and even WiFi are increasingly available on underground subway platforms.

And then there was the change in consumer habits. Even though I knew I could use a pay phone in the subway, I simply wouldn’t. It made more sense to simply run upstairs if I truly needed to make a call.

Or it was even more sensical to wait — why touch that grimy device that might not even be working if I picked up the receiver. (Receiver! Not many people under, say, 35, even know the handset once had the quaint name.)

So, the pay phone died in the subway, too. 

When I saw the phone I photographed here, I wasn’t immediately convinced I would turn it into a blog post. Empty phone kiosks are a common sight these days.

But then, I checked BEHIND the phone and struck gold. There survived a sticker for Bell Atlantic, and decades of dusk and grime piled up right beneath it. 

Sort of fitting.

— Rolando Pujol

Water damage to tile at Cobble Hill subway station reveals older generation of signage. #urbanarchaeology #subway #nyc #brooklyn

Water damage to tile at Cobble Hill subway station reveals older generation of signage. #urbanarchaeology #subway #nyc #brooklyn

The old Hotel Tudor is now a Hilton, but the corporate hands haven’t gotten around to taking down the old sign, a Midtown East unofficial landmark. Hopefully it’s too costly and not worth the trouble to tear it down. This photo was taken from the 10th floor of WPIX, itself a neighborhood fixture since 1948. #signs #tudorcity #manhattan #vintage #oldnyc #murrayhill #kipsbay #unitednations #hotels #relic #artifacts #urbanarchaeology

The old Hotel Tudor is now a Hilton, but the corporate hands haven’t gotten around to taking down the old sign, a Midtown East unofficial landmark. Hopefully it’s too costly and not worth the trouble to tear it down. This photo was taken from the 10th floor of WPIX, itself a neighborhood fixture since 1948. #signs #tudorcity #manhattan #vintage #oldnyc #murrayhill #kipsbay #unitednations #hotels #relic #artifacts #urbanarchaeology

Lumber Boys is in Murray Hill, and here’s a cool way to figure that out. Look at the old-fashioned phone number just above the door. It conceals the neighborhood name in a code of sorts: MUrray-0410. You’d dial M and U on your phone, or 68, and the rest of the number.  #nyc #history #phone #urbanarchaeology

Lumber Boys is in Murray Hill, and here’s a cool way to figure that out. Look at the old-fashioned phone number just above the door. It conceals the neighborhood name in a code of sorts: MUrray-0410. You’d dial M and U on your phone, or 68, and the rest of the number. #nyc #history #phone #urbanarchaeology