May 24 (UPI) — Officials held a ceremony Monday for removal of the last public pay phone stall in New York City.
The pay phone was removed with a crane from a sidewalk on 7th Ave. and 50th St. in Midtown Manhattan, just south of Times Square, marking what officials called “the end of the pay phone era.”
Officials said it was the last public pay phone in the city, but there are still privately owned pay phones and four permanent, full-length “Superman” phone booths.
The city began removing the pay phones in 2015 as they became obsolete and replacing them with public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Since then, the city has removed thousands of pay phones across all five boroughs.
In 2014, there were more than 6,000 active public pay telephones on city sidewalks, according to the city website. They were originally slated to be removed by 2020, but the process took longer than expected.
City officials said on the website that the public pay phones, which provided free access to 911 and 311 non-emergency city services, were still used for regular calls and long-distance calls, but their usage had gone way down.
Instead of the pay phones, now, there are thousands of wireless kiosks run by LinkNYC across the five boroughs, according to the city Office of Technology and Innovation.
LinkNYC officials said there will 5G functionality added to the kiosks this summer, which also provide a social services directory, device charging, free domestic calls and transit and weather alerts.
“We celebrate the end of the pay phone,” but also “look forward to new beginnings,” said the city’s chief technology officer, Matthew Fraser, 1010WINS reported.