Home View from Underground Photo: Remnants of payphone past

Photo: Remnants of payphone past

by Benjamin Kabak

A few weeks, I found myself in the Borough Hall subway stop with a good seven minutes to spare when my eyes hit upon these stickers above the payphones. Now, subway payphones themselves are relics of another age when we had to carry around quarters and didn’t have easy access to a phone in our pockets. These days, the subway’s payphones are a dying breed. Those that remain barely function, and those that do work aren’t exactly paragons of cleanliness.

This sticker though offers us a glimpse into the past — many levels of the past in fact. There’s a New York Telephone logo with the reminder of NYNEX (and their catchy jingle); there’s Bell Atlantic peeking through; and there’s Verizon, the current carrier if the phone works at all. The sticker has survived many layers of anti-trust law as well as many decades in the subway. But there it is for anyone to see.

For more subway-themed and transit-related photos, check out Second Ave. Sagas’ Instagram account. Many of these images pop up on my Facebook page as well.

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nycpat February 14, 2013 - 7:00 pm

I hope to see a headline hat trick of literary allusions.

asar February 14, 2013 - 7:15 pm

Whih line is that on in bourough hall? Iwant to see that myself.

Someone February 14, 2013 - 8:32 pm

Probably one of the 2/3 platforms.

Jon S. February 14, 2013 - 8:15 pm

Yes, the phone of many layers. Seen it many times on the 2/3 platform.

Someone February 14, 2013 - 8:33 pm

I remember seeing an old-style phone booth once a few years ago, at the 57 Street/6 Avenue Station on the F.

I don’t know if it exists anymore, but if it does, it’s something to check out.

JJJ February 15, 2013 - 12:12 am

If Sandy brought one lesson, its that payphones are essential.

After Sandy, I didnt have power for 5 days. More importantly, cell service was down completely for 3, and spotty for 6. No text messages, no internet, no calls.

I became well acquainted with the 10+ payphones withing 1/4 of my apartment. No, I didnt know there were that many before Sandy.

I think its important to keep them around, for emergencies (which can include being mugged).

Hank February 15, 2013 - 11:38 am

Quarters? I remember carrying DIMES!

Someone February 15, 2013 - 12:59 pm

Oh really? I remember carrying nickels!

Scully February 16, 2013 - 11:25 am



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