Off The Hook
And now a small tribute to the payphone, a contemporary artifact. These old school hefty beasts gave us the expression “off the hook” from the dangling handsets indicating to passersby that they’re out of service. In an era where car bodies and bumpers are made of plastic and fiberglass, the payphone is solid metal right down to its casings, levers, knobs, and buttons—even the phone cord is encased in metal. The phone company knew what kind of life on the streets their phones would be facing.
So here’s a little (dirty) love letter to the old fashioned payphone. I love that that they soldier on like modern day wooly mammoths, I love that they are one of the last familiar faces from my childhood, I love that they have seen so much life and I love their battered, scratched and worn patina (but no so much the stains of dubious origin).
To the payphone—see it before it goes!
Love your love letter to the pay phone… And also the HDR grainy effect.
Thank you! I have to admit that when I thought about shooting this post where the nearest payphones were…or if they still existed!
After watching a sloshed friend pee on a pay phone on 14th street, though, I don’t go near them.
And now neither will I, AFP, neither will I.
Although by extension of that logic, I most of the city is off limits…
Are there still standalone phone *booths* on West End Ave.? There were, at least as late as the early ’90s. Always used to stop into them—just for the hell of it—when I was up there. They all smelled like pee.
There was a phone in front of my building when I moved in- I remember phoning the previous owner from it to ask if I could come see the apt! Now there’s just a little concreted over footprint…which is still marked with dog pee. So the urine and payphone theme continues…
Fabulous subject! Love it.
Thank you! Trying to find some beauty in the mundane…
Thanks for a great post on the results of “disruptive technology.” I am a longtime payphone fan.
Thank you! I have to admit that the payphones make faster connections and have better call quantity than the company my “camera” has a contract with.
Great idea and great photos!
Thanks – it’s been so cold that we’ve been seeking inspiration close to home!
Haha love it!
Love the photography! I have yet to find a payphone that still works! Such a good idea to post about. Thanks!
Thanks— it is surprising how many still work AND often the land line connection time is faster than our smart phones…go figure!
Well done gallery on an icon from back in the day. 🙂
We love the old payphone and we’ll miss it when it is gone. It is also amazing how well made they are!
What a great tribute to the payphone. How many times have I stood in front of one, in a new country, trying to figure out what I have to do to make the thing work? 🙂 Then there were the operators … and the saga continues. So many congratulations on being Freshly Pressed again – you totally rocked it! All the best, Terri
Thank you, Terri!
What amazing memories you just brought back about standing in front of mysterious phone boxes: the mysterious tones—did they mean the line was working or engaged? And the operators! When I was backpacking around NZ before cell phones, I called the international operator to make a call back to the States to let them know I’d arrived safely. A monthly later I called home again to let my folk know I was moving on and got the same operator who remembered me and said, “‘Are you STILL trying to ring home?” Can’t make this stuff up!
Haven’t you seen the new thing now. At a university they have they have turned them old pay phone booths with Skype booths …that was pretty cool when I saw it…
No! Sounds fantastic—a pretty logical extension and a good way to cure freshman homesickness.
Reblogged this on Abrar Ahmed.
I’m going to miss them. I use them all the time.
They’re like old friends….
I haven’t seen a payphone in so long. The last place was about a year ago, in Ireland. Stateside, it’s been multiple years. I always wonder, what do people without cell phones do?
Are they just unable to make calls now?
When I went out to shoot these pictures, I wasn’t sure if there were any phones left (they took down the ones on our street years ago), but once I started looking (in New York) I was amazed how many there still are! I once got stuck in the UK without a cell phone having to make an urgent call and everyone around me offered me their phone…
very nice post…
The payphone is something you do not see anymore. They have become extinct in everyday life, but their presence is still around. As you walk through hallways of hospitals or walk by old booths you can see their remains. The reason they are gone is because of cell phones. No one takes the time slows down and calls another individual. Common technology is making every one lazy. You don’t have to wait for your turn you just pick up your cell phone and give a call. The payphone is a great helpful thing because the battery can never die and as long as you have change you can make a call. In any emergency a pay phone close by could make a huge difference.
You’re so right, everyone is instantaneously connected yet probably pays less attention to the conversation. I’d love to do a post about the old phone booths, they are really vanishing!
You can’t find them around here. I was driving through a small town in Texas last year, and I saw two or three actual phone booths. I think they were restored and you could see them from the main drag. I should’ve stopped to make a call.
I wonder if NYC is the exception as there are still so many around. Where are you, Ted? Restored phone booths…that makes me feel old!
I’m in Shreveport, Louisiana. I wish I remember what town those booths were in.
Sounds like a good time for a road trip!
Enjoyed this very much!
Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!
I forgot to tell you – we put your post on our Facebook Page. We’re so happy for you! ~T
Aw, shucks! Thanks for sharing the love. You guys are the best—we have enjoyed our virtual tour of Mexico with you!
Reblogged this on plagwitz sense.
Awesome ode’ to The NYC Payphone
Are you using a filter? All of these pictures are easily 10 times better than anything I’ve taken in the past week with my iPhone. I never thought a payphone could look so good.
Thanks! I wanted to take a lot of different angles to capture the “personality” of the phone and also to show the solid materials and construction. I’ve also been playing around with the Snapseed app and doing all of the editing right in my phone instead of going the more traditional route and bringing them over to my computer then using Photoshop. I thought it would be interesting to create a retro vibe on these photos given the subject matter.
Thanks so much for the feedback!
I’m definitely a big fan of the photos!
Thank you and thanks for commenting!
It’s my pleasure!
Reblogged this on Real Meets Trill #100 and commented:
The way thing used to be!
Perhaps the poster should come to the UK… Over here we still have those occasional RED-PILLAR-BOX with rectangular windows style, with old brass handles. Those little cute square box things – If you visit Orlando they have one there too – I hear that in certain parts of the country (UK), they have preservation orders on them, so that they can’t be removed.
And as a young teenager, certainly they offered a place to shelter from the wind and rain, while dating…
BUT the smell … Ah the smell… :¬/
I remember those phone boxes from my uni days (here’s my post if you’re interested: doublewhirler.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/maggie-and-me/) ! Loved them—now there was a structure built to last! And the smell…that is an international phenomena!
Thanks for the comment!
Love your blog. Lot of cool pics 🙂 Please read http://theburnburnblog.wordpress.com/ – My new awesome blog
This is great. I actually saw someone use the pay phone outside my building yesterday. Pee or not, I’m glad they’re still around. Great images too btw!
Thank you! I find them a lot more reliable than my service provider and the sound quality is better too. Thanks for stopping by!
Survival of a technology, so old, will they ever go extinct? Popularity has kept the pay phone alive. I have never thought of this before.
We hope not—phone batteries will go dead, network service may not come through…
Hopefully, pay phones will go through some sort of a makeover for more reliability. That should keep them alive. I started thinking about the importance of them to those in need…
I was just thinking this morning on my walk to work that you don’t see many pay phones any more! Great photos : )
It is funny – once you start looking in NY, you start to see them everywhere. But, ask anyone where one is and no one knows.
So simple yet genius! Looking forward to follow.
Thank you so much for the comment and the follow. We hope we won’t disappoint.
Very nice little post, phone boxes were a nice little thing, whenever I see one now, it’s smashed to pieces by the let’s be honest rotten youths of today, I myself am only 21 but I’m nothing like those that harm inanimate memories & tools of years past.
I loved the phone box, nice tool, the few times I used one, I enjoyed the face that I could stand in a box on the street and contact somebody if I were in need.
I’ll miss them myself
Thanks very much.
Very welcome, very cool post, maybe check out my blog?, I have a Q&A coming up with a young aspiring actress from Sweden & a post detailing my thoughts on the media & the news.
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Nostalgic. We miss ’em these days. Modern smartphones are sophisticated but public payphones are classic heritage of communication. 🙂
They certainly are classics. Thanks.
Reblogged this on mintvalf.
Reblogged this on C. L. Swinney's Blog and commented:
Thanks – much appreciated.
wonderful congrats…such wonderful work doublewhirler 😀
Thanks so much. We are enjoying your work too!!
awe thanks…smiles compose a lovely day.
I love this and your photos! Great work 🙂
Many thanks for the comment. Looking forward to trying your recipes.
Really cool. I’ve noticed that in London some of the red phone boxes are being painted black which is ridiculous. Come on leave it. Even though they stink of piss and are dirty inside.
I also found out that in LA, especially in South Central, some of the pay-phones actually belongs to gang members and if they ring and you happen to pass next to it – DO NOT ANSWER! it is not your phone. I found it hilarious, because when I was in Watts on the street, one of the pay phone rang and I wanted to answer it by my friends strongly adviced me not to.
Thank you for this. On the almost never occasion I see one I get nostalgic. I almost want to pick it up to see if it still has a dial tone…then I remember what kind of people would still use one…all set.
Love this..makes me remember my youth —> if its getting late I am on panic searching for coins to call my mom and tell her where I am or else risk my butt being smack when I get home 🙂
Its amazing what a phone can capture these days…
A phone taking pictures of a phone – hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.
love your blog. It’s really interesting. Things we pass by daily but never see.
Reblogged this on The International Blogspaper.
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