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New York City Cuts Power for Last Pay Phones

At one point in time, you couldn’t walk 30 feet on a New York City block without encountering a pay phone. In the early 2000s, there were around 30,000 public street pay phones registered with the city. But in May of 2022, a curious crowd gathered in Times Square as a power saw cut through the base of a pay phone on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 50th Street. That was the final New York City public pay telephone.

In the age of the smartphone, it may be hard to recall the importance of pay phones in the daily life of New Yorkers. New York is a dense, pedestrian city. It wasn’t until the 1940s that even half of Americans had a phone. If you need to make a call on the go, the pay phone was really necessary.

“I hate to use the word nostalgia,” said Mark Thomas, who has been documenting pay phones in New York City. “But I think people miss a period of time when a call meant something. When you planned it and you thought about it, and you took a deep breath and you put your quarter in.”

New York City’s chief technology officer explained the need for the change: “Just like we transitioned from the horse and buggy to the automobile, and from the automobile to the airplane to the digital evolution has progressed from pay phones to high-speed Wi-Fi kiosks to meet the demands of our rapidly changing daily communications needs.”

Possible Preaching Angles:

(1) Communication—No matter how much the forms of communication change, human beings (friends, spouses, parents, church members) will always have a need to communicate. And God will always have a way to communicate with us. (2) Change—Shows that not all change is bad. Some changes are inevitable, even when they come with losses.

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