The Last Phone Booth In New York City

There are only four outdoor phone booths left in Manhattan – and they’re all on West End Avenue. That’s it: four.

This one is at 101st Street:

Phone Booth 01

This is at the corner of 100th Street:

Phone Booth 02

This tree-shrouded booth can be found at the corner of 90th Street.

Phone Booth 04

Finally, this is at 66th Street.

Phone Booth 05

And that’s it.

If you happen to pass by, I seriously advise you to stop in one of these booths while they’re still around. Note that someone still cares enough to keep the overhead light in proper working order. Close the door (be amazed that they even have doors), and you’ll find yourself in a veritable fishbowl plunked down in the center of Manhattan. The walls actually keep out a good amount of sound, and it’s surreal to look out at the world around you with something you don’t usually get on a busy Manhattan avenue: personal space.

Phone Booth 03

It’s funny to think how the idea of an enclosed space to have a phone conversation now seems like an incredible luxury. I have a feeling these are only still around due to a neighborhood advocacy association, and I cannot praise them enough for keeping the phone booth off the extinction list.

This site has tons of pictures of phone booths, both from New York and throughout the world, for anyone interested. Forgotten-NY has a great article on other rare phone miscellany around the city.

-SCOUT

UPDATE: In case it wasn’t clear above, I am referring ONLY to Manhattan outdoor four-walled phone booths. If it doesn’t have a door, it ain’t a phone booth!

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83 comments

  1. Wait. I *live* on West End Ave in the 90s, and I’ve *never* seen a phone booth there. Huh. Guess I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Phone booths are the optimum methods of talking on the phone when not at home — I wish they were still around, with phone cards etc. Imagine — people used to talk on the phone outdoors _without everyone else having to hear what they’re saying._

    The booths disappeared, with the advent of 3-sided sheds, and then they got smaller, with just a panel with a phone attached. Finally, all pretense of privacy was dropped and people just yap into their cell phones and you have to hear them. Progress.

    http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/booths/phonebooth.html

  3. There’s one in the lobby at Pier 40. Does that count?

  4. Phone Booths are not *that* uncommon in New York. What makes the West End Ave. booths special is that they are outdoors. Many indoor booths survive at places too numerous to mention. I also spot an occasional and very rare rotary dial payphone.

    Last time I was out at Governors Island I spotted a couple of nice booths on Yankee Pier, on Buttermilk Channel:

    http://www.payphone-project.com/gallery/New_York_City/DSCN1999

    I do not know if they are still there today.

  5. I call bollocks! West Broadway down near WTC has a phone booth.

  6. 75th street at 3rd avenue still has a phone booth.

  7. I realize nobody reads these boards once they leave their own comments, but 5 and 6, either you are talking about indoor phone booths or else you might be identifying larger payphone enclosures as “booths”. I have not been to the East Side lately but I will be amazed if there is even one outdoor phone booth with a closing door anywhere in that area. There are numerous phone booths in Manhattan (most of them are indoors) but West End Ave has the only remaining outdoor booths in Manhattan.

  8. Welllll, I’ll be damned. I’ve been walking by this street for more than a decade, and I *swear* I’ve *never* noticed this phone booth.

    http://i84.photobucket.com/albums/k28/joygeorge/CH/IMG00113.jpg

  9. This gives me a bit of nostalgia of old 2600 magazines with the photos of phones and phone booths from all over the world on the back. The first being those in NYC.

  10. I quit using all forms of public pay phone 20 years ago after I saw a homeless guy pee on one outside a 7-11.

  11. This is a coincidence. I saw this on Fark this morning. Just Saturday morning, picking up a friend to take to the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, I pointed out that one on West End to my wife. “Wow, when’s the last time you saw a phone booth!” Crazy.

  12. I have to laugh at your “personal space” and “busy avenue” statements: In all the photos the streets are virtually empty. You’d actually have to AIM yourself at someone to rub elbows!

    Having lived in China for the last seven years, I would LOVE to walk down your “crowded avenues” !!!!

  13. Danny Martinez

    There’s still a phone booth outside of Webster hall, right down on the corner. This article is full of lies.

  14. Aeon J. Skoble

    Wait, is that 4 left in all of NYC, or 4 left in Manhattan?

  15. WHAT IS A PHONE BOOTH? (HAHA

  16. Nice to see the great condition of these booths. During this down swing in economic times, payphones are a much needed service for NYC. Love the ads and the ability to use them when cell phones not available. Wish the city could be more responsive in helping with the vandalism issue that sometimes impacts the use of the phones. Would also like to see a more uniform approach to the look of the booths offered. Too many differences

  17. Not true. There are a dozen or so in the underground area around Rockefeller Center.

  18. To reiterate:
    If you missed it in the above article, I’m ONLY talking about outdoor Manhattan-located four-walled phone booths (i.e. the kind that have a door). If it’s in another borough, is just a phone kiosk or stand, or is indoors, this is not what I’m talking about! I double checked the links given above, and all I can find are phone kiosks. If you think you know of another booth, provide a Google Maps street view link!

  19. I used to live on West 100th Street between West End and Riverside Drive for 5 years. I know the booth well. Glad to see that it’s still there and in such great shape. I don’t know about the other booths, but you can thank Alan Flaks, a local political activist on the West Side for saving the one on West 100th Street. If I recall, these 4 booths have been the only booths left in Manhattan for quite some time (20 – 30 yrs?). Thanks for the post.

  20. Some good photos – and corroborating support for these being the last four-sided phone booths in Manhattan – can be seen here:

    http://www.payphone-project.com/gallery/Last_Phone_Booths_of_Manhattan

  21. This would never be allowed to happen in the UK. Without phone booths, where would drunks go to the toilet?

  22. The booth at 66th St does not have a door, though it must’ve had one at one time. (I noticed its door-less state this morning, but your photo also shows it.)

  23. Where is Superman going to change now? How will he defend Metropolis? In his street clothes? I think not.

  24. poor superman

  25. Henry Dominguez

    There is one at Columbia University? teel me plisss.

  26. It’s ironic that these four are all in a wealthy neighborhood where residents are more likely to NOT need them. They should really be considered a public good and maintained everywhere. Are we also losing kiosks?

  27. This is an excellent site and I LOVE this entry!

  28. Only hispters notice old-school technology going away. Hipster!

  29. Thanks for a wonderful blog! Your post reminds me of an art installation by the artist Sophie Calle in collaboration with the writer Paul Auster. Calle adopted a phone booth in Tribeca, cleaned it and embellished it with various comfy elements such as water, snacks, a note pad, etc., Over several days, she refreshed its contents and observed and interacted with its users. It was not a cabin-style phone booth, but I thought you might be interested in the project nonetheless.

  30. Poor Clark Kent…

  31. It was nice to see the Phone Booth pix, now that they have been gone for almost a generation I’m sure there will become cult objects but I worry that the few taht are left will be gone soon.. Hey someone needs to change into his Superhero costume.

  32. I might change for the look kind of sexy for a Linux distro.

  33. But there are plenty of operating public pay phones. actually I was just marveling at two being on 8th avenue btwn 44th and 45th. Glad to see them in use.

    But for now, I’ll keep searching for another booth in any city I travel too….interesting blog. I guess much of the my city (NY) is in trouble if we need Superman to come to the rescue…

    stay adventurous,
    Craig

  34. Your site is very interesting, thank you very match!!

  35. After reading this blog makes me want to start my own.

  36. Great site! This site has tons of pictures of phone booths, both from New York and throughout the world, for anyone interested. Thanks!

  37. It was nice to see the Phone Booth pix, now that they have been gone for almost a generation I’m sure there will become cult objects but I worry that the few taht are left will be gone soon.. Hey someone needs to change into his Superhero costume.

  38. Many thanks for a wonderful blog! Your post reminds me of an art installation by the artist Sophie Calle in collaboration with the writer Paul Auster. Calle adopted a phone booth in Tribeca, cleaned it and embellished it with various comfy elements such as water, snacks, a note pad, etc.

  39. Hi .. thanks for the post, i’d love to see more from you :)

  40. Does this mean that we should charge a person 10 cents if they want to use our cell phones?

  41. This gives me a bit of nostalgia of old 2600 magazines with the photos of phones and phone booths from all over the world on the back. The first being those in NYC.

  42. Thank you very match for this blog!

  43. Does anyone know if any of these are still around today in 2012? Doing a photography project about payphones before MIKE gets here and would like to shoot these!

  44. Ya, the ones on 100 and 101 still there

  45. Stop this Manhattanocentricness! There are two telephone booths with operational doors inside the Brooklyn Public Library on I think the third floor!

  46. Only wanna remark on few general things, The website style is perfect, the subject material is rattling wonderful. “Drop the question what tomorrow may bring, and count as profit every day that fate allows you.” by Horace.

  47. I have never even been to New York but in one of her latest trips to NY, my mother-in-law bought my son this great book, The Lonely Phone Booth, about the phone booth on the corner of 100th street:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Lonely-Phonebooth-Peter-Ackerman/dp/156792414X/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373688860&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Lonely+phone+booth

    I wondered if the booth actually existed and I guess it does!

  48. I live off West end on 92nd…the booth on 90th is STILL there, though I don’t think functional. It’s pretty beat up. Soon after I moved I took a picture to show people because everyone was amazed that there was still one around….

  49. Greetings! I’ve been following your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  50. Evoernye would benefit from reading this post

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