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Urban archaeology: Futuristic phone booths

(Credit: Urbanite)

"In the future, all phone booths will look this way." That must be what the folks at New York Telephone were thinking when this funky pay phone was installed in Brooklyn Heights, no doubt in the 1970s.

You can drop a few dimes in it and complete the retro look by actually using the thing. (Wait, we didn't actually pick up the receiver, so we can't tell you if it is working.) We did test our pipes inside the metallic shell, and found that the shape does magnify your voice nicely, but the sound echoes, not making for a particularly private conversation. But who can argue with its aesthetics? (Though admittedly, it's not particularly contextual with Brooklyn Heights brownstones.)

It's a nifty relic and we're glad it's still there. You can find it by the Brooklyn Promenade, at the end of Montague Street.

As for the history of this style of phone booth, we see a few from time to time on 1970s television shows and movies. But they hardly became a Bell System standard.

Here's more on city phone booths from Forgotten NY and the Payphone Project. And here's something we wrote last year on the demise of pay phones (and the possibly last public rotary phone.)

-- Rolando Pujol

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