If you've watched the Person of Interest, an American science fiction crime drama TV series, you'd know the role of a street payphone. Harold Finch, the reclusive billionaire software genius, wouldn't be able to get his machine to communicate with him if it was to be set in 2022. The last standing street payphone was plucked from 7th Avenue on Monday, marking an end of era for New Yorkers.
New York City, which once had more than 6,000 public telephones, has none. The signature public payphones, which remained no more than a relic in modern-day, were being removed one after another since 2015, citing the need for digital innovation. Suiting the need of New Yorkers, Wi-Fi kiosks replaced those payphones.
"As a native New Yorker, saying goodbye to the last street payphone is bittersweet because of the prominent place they've held in the city's physical landscape for decades," Matthew Fraser, New York's commissioner of the office of technology and innovation, said.
"Just like we transitioned from the horse and buggy to the automobile and from the automobile to the airplane, the digital evolution has progressed from payphones to high-speed wifi kiosks to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communications needs," he added.
The last public payphone's fate is not sealed entirely. It will be a reminder of the pre-digital life and preserved in the Museum of the City of New York as a part of their new exhibit Analog City: NYC BC (Before Computers).
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine shared the video of a crane plucking the payphone from the pavement and then loading it onto a truck.
LinkNYC shared a picture of the moment and said that " they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city." The company claims to have installed thousands of Links across the city and provided over 3 billion Wi-Fi sessions.
"In less than a decade we've gone from pay phones on street corners to free Wi-Fi kiosks all over our city," New York City Council Member Julie Won said. Who called the Link kiosks "vital lifelines" for people. "We're on the right track towards making NYC technologically equitable and we must continue this work to connect more New Yorkers to affordable high-speed internet in their homes and schools."