End of an Era As New York Removes Public Payphones
My seven-year-old made me feel especially ancient a few days ago when we drove by a small town payphone, backtracked, and got out of the car so that he could get a good look at the old relic. The idea of a phone attached to a cord was a confusing one for my son.
It was at that moment as we stood in front of the payphone and I explained to my son that it was how I used to call his Mam and Papa when I was away from home that I realized my child has never known life without not only a cell phone but a phone that sits on a base. I can’t even imagine how much his mind would have been blown had I attempted to explain what a rotary phone is!
Believe it or not, this month marked the end of an era for New York (City) and for payphones as the very last payphone was removed. There may still be some payphones scattered around Upstate, but in a city that used to be littered with payphones, there are no more.
New York City started to phase out payphones in 2015 because cell phones made payphones basically irrelevant. In some places, the former payphones have been replaced with free wifi kiosks where people can charge their cell phones and make free phone calls by connecting to the wifi.
When the final payphone in New York City was removed in early June, people were so sad to see the end of the payphone that a small ceremony was held to mark the occasion and it took place near Times Square.
YouGov decided to poll Americans to find out when the last time they actually used a payphone was and 42 percent of people said they’ve not touched a payphone in at least 15 years while 12 percent said they’d never even used one. The majority of people who said they’d never used a payphone even once in their life are under the age of 30.
What about the other percentage of people? Well, 12 percent said they’d found themselves in a situation in the last five years where they needed to use a payphone and five percent of people said they’d used one within the last year.
Here’s where things get really bizarre though – remember how the majority of people who said they’d never used a payphone were under the age of 30? Well, it’s actually younger people who were the majority of the five percent who have used a payphone. That’s right – one in nine people in the study say they’re part of that small group who have used a payphone.
So, we ask you – when was the last time you used a payphone, and where was it? The last time that I used a payphone was in the fall of 2003 and it was at the gas station that sits at the corner of Glendale and Route 17C in Endicott.