Earlier this year a public space hacking project hit New York that turned payphones into mini-libraries. That project seemed to highlight the creeping obsolescence of the public phone. However, in the wake of super storm Sandy, the city has suddenly rediscovered the value of the nearly forgotten artifacts of an earlier age.
Following the massive blackout that hit lower Manhattan, and parts of Queens, Long Island, and Staten Island, dozens of photos are popping up in the mainstream media showing long lines of New Yorkers queuing up to use phone booths, most sporting an impatient scowl while waiting. The hubris of thinking our cell phones would serve our every need, even in the case of emergencies, came crashing into reality as the super storm knocked out cellular service and power outlets, leaving large numbers of people essentially cut off from the rest of the world.
And while the sobering reality of having to use a pay phone while holding an $800 piece of useless smartphone glass is eye opening, what's even more though provoking is considering the fact that many credit-card wielding consumers no longer even carry the coins needed to use pay phones.
Hopefully, the silver lining in Sandy's super storm clouds of destruction will result in another look at preserving the fast dwindling numbers of pay phones in our major cities.