Public payphones, once a ubiquitous part of the city landscape, have become a rarer commodity in recent years, especially in Brooklyn. The New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) compiled a map and graph detailing the number of active payphones left in the city and their revenue.

Every red dot in the map at right represents the location of a working payphone in the city. While it may seem that they are still everywhere, the number of active phones are plummeting. Here is the break down from the IBO:

In January 2013 there were 11,249 working payphones in public locations citywide, a decline of almost
50 percent since 2008.

  • The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island have seen decreases of about 60 percent.
  • The number of payphones has fallen 33 percent in Manhattan and 52 percent in Queens.

It is clear that the decline in demand for public payphones is likely because everyone owns a cellphone. Still, it is surprising that the city still reels in tens of millions of dollars from calls made by the public. According to the IBO study, the city makes over $15 million from advertising on the phones, despite the fact that since 2008 revenue from the calls placed themselves have dropped dramatically.

I was wondering, outside of you losing your cellphone and needing to make an emergency call, do any of our readers use public payphones? If so, what do you use them for?

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