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End of an era as New York removes last public payphone

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theguardian.com

New York City removed its last public payphone this week, discontinuing a relic from a more analog time.On Monday municipal officials removed the last remaining city-owned payphone, located in the Midtown area.

New York City began ditching its payphones in 2015, with officials citing a need for digital innovation.“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 in a statement.“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.”With more than 6,000 public payphones once active throughout New York, public telephones have steadily been replaced with LinkNYC stands, a freestanding kiosk that provides wifi, a charging station for mobile devices, and domestic phone calls to all users for free.LinkNYC stands also function as digital billboards for advertisements, art displays and public service announcements.A few private payphones remain in New York, including four full-length phone booths known as “Superman booths”, though city officials are unsure if they are operational.The last of the public payphones won’t end up in a landfill.

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