Last call for the NYC public pay phone

up:Date June 29, 2022 by Jans Bock-Schroeder

Final phone booth dismantled in New York

It's the end of an era: As of Monday May 23, 2022, New York City no longer operates public pay phones. A crane uprooted the last city-operated payphone from a sidewalk on Seventh Avenue near Times Square.

Andy Warhol on a public payphone in New York, 1982
Andy Warhol, 1982

The last New York public phone booth will be turned into an display at the Museum of the City of New York. Here it is to become part of the currently running special exhibition "Analog City," which focuses on everyday life in the American metropolis before computers existed.

Andy Warhol on a public payphone in New York, 1982
Andy Warhol, 1982

Traditional pay phones in New York

The photos of Andy Warhol in a public phone booth in New York were taken in 1982, when Photo Reporter Peter Bock-Schroeder (1913-2001) was wandering around Manhattan with his Leica camera.

He saw an interesting looking man talking on a typical New Yorker public phone, without knowing who he had in front of him, he took two pictures as he walked by.

Phone booths were once ubiquitous in the city, and were part of New York cool.

Whether one lived in New York, was visiting, or had admired New York on the screen or on television, public phone booths had become a familiar sight. Numerous films, including Rosemary's Baby, incorporated the New York phone booth as an important backdrop and prop.

The phone booth was Superman's dressing room

Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster used a phone booth in a 1942 Sunday newspaper comic to transform Clark Kent into Superman. Clark, perceiving a mission for Superman, says goodbye to Lois to arrange a fake phone call.

While sitting in the New York phone booth, he comments, "This certainly isn't the most convenient place in the world to change, but I've got to change my identity - and fast!"

New York's transition from analog to digital

The rise of cell phones and the proliferation of smartphones made them more and more obsolete, - they also remained largely unused and were often the target of vandalism.

In 2015, there were still around 8,000 traditional pay phones in New York, but in recent years they have been gradually dismantled.

The first public telephone in the United States was installed in 1880 in an office of The Connecticut Telephone Company in New Haven.

New York City: Parting with the telephone booth

Matthew Fraser of City Hall said on the occasion of the Times Square phone booth's removal, "Just as we've moved from horses and carriages to automobiles and from cars to airplanes, the digital evolution has progressed from pay phones to wi-fi kiosks with high-speed access to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communication needs."

Hello world, New York is calling

Although the telephone system being removed was the last public pay phone in the city, there are still a number of privately owned phone booths that can be accessed by the community.

Furthermore, on the Upper West Side, there are a total of four remaining traditional booth telephones which were spared from the destruction.

Nostalgics can admire the New York phone booth on display in a museum or purchase a one-of-a-kind Bock-Schroeder Warhol NFT.

Andy's public phone diaries

Andy Warhol on a public payphone in New York, 1982 NFT multi colour collage
Andy Warhol NFT collage

To honour two of New York's most iconic protagonists, the Bock-Schroeder Foundation has launched a limited-edition NFT collection titled "Call me Andy" on the Ethereum network.

Andy Warhol in a public phone booth photography mixed media digital NFT artwork

1.000 unique NFTs ✅

Warhol Digital Collectible ✅

The Pre-Sale Price 0.03 ETH ✅

Andy Warhol in a public phone booth photography mixed with digital animated gif art
Andy Warhol NFT, NYC 1982

Each Warhol is a singular variation of an original photograph by Peter Bock-Schroeder taken in New York in 1982.

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