One block away from a 21st century LinkNYC WiFi tower on Broadway sits one of three West End Avenue working telephone ‘booths’, the last in NYC. The one at the corner of 101st Street is significant to me as I used it when I lived on that street during the 1977 summer of the double scourge blackout riots and the Son of Sam serial killings.
Elsewhere, the alleged ‘last’ payphone was removed and transported to the Museum of the City of New York in 2022, yet these remain.
So you needn’t go there to see it—you can actually use this one to call friends or even change into your ‘superman’ outfit, while gaining TikTok rights.
I have a phone booth soft spot—there was a time when I was involved with what were known as ‘Phone Phreaks‘ a very loose community of people who hacked the telephone system using payphones without payment to ‘activate’ them. By whistling, utilizing bobby pins and other means it was possible to make free calls because the technology in use then required that sensing devices only ‘hear’ tones, however generated. It was true ‘analog’ hacking in an evolving, digital world.
So, in that neighborhood you can buy a slice of pizza at Mama’s Too or Sal & Carmine’s, take it to the phone booth to tell friends afar how it compares to pizza back home, and then tell them who you are going to see at Smoke, the high-end jazz club only three blocks farther uptown.