Goodbye New York Pay Phones! This Iconic Communication Tool Is Disappearing! “The King Of Comedy” Shows Them Off!

Farewell To A Iconic Communication Tool!

Yes, you won’t have pay phones to kick around New York City any longer…

For a generation, these pay phones were everywhere – all across the country, but certainly on every corner in The Big Apple – offering locals and tourists alike a way to make a quick call – but, in this day and age, they have outlived their usefulness!

As Gothamist reports:

“in the age of smartphones, locals have been griping about the remaining open-air phones lining the city’s thoroughfares, complaining that the phones aren’t well maintained and pose safety issues. “Additionally, they take up sorely needed sidewalk space that could better serve people with disabilities [and] families with strollers and ease sidewalk congestion,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says.”

The “pay phone” will soon be a memory of a different age, and phone booths are also being dismantled. Over the next year, these will all be torn out, with a variety of wi-fi kiosks scattered about instead.

However, some good news for nostalgia junkies: there are still four phone booths that will stay put, all on the city’s Upper West Side – so grab a picture in one while you can!

If you haven’t ever seen or tried to use one of New York’s iconic pay phones, here are what they looked like in New York’s Times Square.

A Classic Pay Phone Movie Moment!

In the terrific 1982 Martin Scorsese film “The King Of Comedy”, Robert DeNiro plays Rupert Pupkin, a struggling Comedian who is waiting for a call that never comes. Here’s the clip, shot in Times Square – note all of the classic businesses in the background:

And here is an iconic scene from the film as well, as Jerry Lewis, playing late night Talk Show King Jerry Langford, is walking down a New York street and a woman on a pay phone sees him – here is that moment:

That chilling shriek was the entire point of the film: how we demand so much from our “Stars”, so much so that we twist reality and fantasy to a point where the two tragically collide.

A terrific blu-ray release goes deep into “The King Of Comedy”, which is a masterpiece.

Check out the remastered blu ray and all the extras here:

If you’ve never been to New York, there is so much to discover:

It is one of the most incredible cities in the world, so I decided to walk 196 blocks of it – see them all here:

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Categories: Art, Comedy Movies, Cult Movies, Director Martin Scorsese, Exotic Travel, Great Films, New York, Pop Culture, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir

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12 replies

  1. Great post, John. It is sad to see an icon disappear.


  2. I’m sad to see this, another nail in the coffin, hammered in by ‘progress’. If something knocks out the cell masts, everyone will be screaming to have them back!
    (I LOVE that film, as you know. It is underrated, and often misunderstood)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a bit of a loss of history, John. It would be like taking away the London red post boxes. I’m glad to know they are preserving four of these pay phones.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It is a pity John as one doesn’t always have a mobile – especially in a country that is not your home.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Public payphones are declining in the UK, John as they become little used or vandalised they are removed…A sign of the times 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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