NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – New York City’s last working public street payphone was pulled out of a sidewalk in Manhattan on Monday morning, marking what officials said was “the end of the payphone era.”
The last payphone was ceremoniously removed with a crane shortly after 10 a.m. at Seventh Avenue and W. 50th Street, just south of Times Square.
It was the only remaining public payphone in the city, officials said. There are still privately owned payphones and four permanent, full-length “Superman” phone booths.
A number of officials were on hand for the payphone’s removal, including the city’s chief technology officer, Matthew Fraser, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and Councilmember Gale Brewer.
Fraser said the old payphones were invaluable to countless people over the years.
“When you were a kid trying to call home to let your parents know you were all right,” Fraser said. “Or you were just calling to get the time so you know if you can get home on time. Or if you were a person that was in need of emergency support. These phones provided a critical service to everyone.”
The city began removing payphones in 2015, and there are now “thousands” of LinkNYC kiosks across the five boroughs, according to the city Office of Technology and Innovation.
Officials said 5G functionality will be added to LinkNYC this summer. “Link5G” is part of a “major expansion that will bring more service to more neighborhoods,” according to the city.
An average of 425,000 calls are made from LinkNYC kiosks on any given month, Fraser said, adding that “we celebrate the end of the payphone” but also “look forward to new beginnings.”