The last Payphone, have they really gone the way of the 8-Track Player?

If you listen to the media, one would think payphones are obsolete when in fact they are enjoying a resurgance

A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames
6 min readNov 27, 2022


Rusty payphone attached to a wall
Photo by Joshua Olsen on Unsplash

The coin-operated public payphone has gone the way of film cameras, eight track tapes, and VCRs.

Literally the last public payphone in New York City — located on 50th street and 7th avenue, right on Times Square — has been removed and placed in the Museum of the City of New York [as of May of 2022].

Sometimes I reminisce about things I used to do or used to have that are non-existent now or barely hanging on to existence and the payphone is one of them — along with my AMC Pacer.

I remember as late as 1994 standing in the rain getting drenched trying to make a call on a payphone.

“Please deposit. Twenty-five cents. For. Three. Minutes,” the monotone voice instructed me.

I drop a quarter into the slot and hear the coin fall.

“Thank you!” the voice chimed.

I hurriedly press the eleven digits on the keypad and listen to the ringing on the other end. “Hello”?

The rain is coming down hard as I talk on the payphone hanging off the wall of my local 7-Eleven convenience store.

My call is successful if you consider getting drenched and possibly coming down with influenza as being successful. In today’s society we all have smartphones which allow us to make calls anywhere.


A man talking on a payphone at night
Photo by Ayush Shakya on Unsplash

The History of the Payphone

The first payphone was in New Haven, Connecticut at the office of the Connecticut Telephone Co. in 1880, but the caller paid an attendant beforehand.

The payphone as we know it was invented by William Gray who invented the coin mechanism; he was issued a patent in 1891 for a “Signal Device for Telephone Pay-Stations.” This patent basically allowed a coin to be inserted before a call was made — of course it’s a…



A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames

ElbyJames is an American disabled combat vet exiled in the UK & a free speech absolutist. He’s an occasional Top Writer