In Sandy, “worthless” pay phones show value

One of Superstorm Sandy’s effects on New Yorkers has been to drive them back to the technological stone age.

Huffington Post reports that because of limited or non-existent cellular coverage in the area, smart phones have been useless. That has caused users to turn back the clock … to public pay phones.

Remember those?

The story notes that, “… the storm has enabled the return of the long-ignored public pay phone. On Tuesday, a line of the disconnected waited to use a payphone in the West Village, some of them making what was surely their first pay phone call in many years. In the East Village, a young boy tugged on his mother’s sleeve in delight as change returned to the coin slot after an unanswered call. On Broadway below Union Square, two men in New York Giants sweatshirts operated a payphone in tandem: One dialed the phone while the other read out the number from a cell phone, the device in his hand reduced to a $700 address book.”

Who’d a believed it?

The piece notes that just months ago, “New York announced a pilot program to convert several pay phones around in the city into free WiFi hotspots. The move was widely praised as a successful effort to transform worthless technology …”

Maybe not so worthless after all.

8 comments Add your comment


November 1st, 2012
10:24 am

Just goes to show that you should never fully discard old technology. I will never, ever convert to Blu-Ray, unless it’s the only thing available. I still prefer to buy CDs versus downloading mp3s. You can have my vast CD collection when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.


November 1st, 2012
10:27 am

Functional nostalgia

chest fever

November 1st, 2012
10:48 am

I’ve had people tell me that their land lines in NY/NJ didn’t work after the storm. The problem wasn’t with the land lines, it was that the people only had wireless home phones that required electricity. If they’d had the old wired sets (touchtone or dial) most of them could have had working service.


November 1st, 2012
2:42 pm

Blu Ray is good. I also prefer CD’s to MP3’s. It is fun to watch old movies where the characters are dependant on pay phones. and to track the cell phone usage as it grew.


November 1st, 2012
4:02 pm

@ chest fever: I am so frustrated that I can no longer have an ‘analog’ landline. I’m a Comcast customer and my phone line (digital) runs through my cable modem. So when the power and/or modem goes out, so does my landline service. It’s a nightmare! I would love to go back to my old landline w/ wires service…

Mayor of Ocee

November 1st, 2012
11:08 pm

Hmmmmm: I also enjoy watching movies where pay phones are still part of the norm and/or are still the major means of communication. Seeing them brings back good memories. Pay phones were part of our everyday culture at one time and we should never forget about them.


November 2nd, 2012
10:57 am

The only problem with all those land lines is if the wind knocked the wires down, you had no phone. That’s what we experienced in NE Ohio. They’re not all underground cable, but if the phone works, it’s the greatest asset in a storm. Pay phones aren’t owned and operated by the phone company anymore, either. Someone is getting very rich off 25 cents per minute!


November 6th, 2012
1:24 pm

Bloomberg and all of the other idiots knew for several days that Sandy was coming. They didn’t preposition generators, fuel, water…nothing. But, he did outlaw extra large soft drinks. What a buffoon.