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Are There Any Pay Phones Left?

Tim Boyle, Getty Images

I was waiting for the light at 24th and State in Quincy yesterday and looked over at the Shell gas station and realized that there was no longer a pay phone at that location. I am not aware of when that pay phone was removed. And I am also not aware of any other pay phone still in existence in the City of Quincy.

There is a generation of young people who probably have no idea what a pay phone is or was, so here is a little background on pay phones. Next June will mark the 136th anniversary of the first public pay phone booth. That booth was built in 1880 in New Haven, Connecticut. Payphones were actually preceded by pay stations, manned by telephone company attendants who would collect payment for calls placed.

In 1889, the first public coin telephone was invented by William Gray and installed at a bank in Hartford, Connecticut. The invention quickly caught on, and by 1902, there were 81,000 payphones in the United States. By 1905, the first outdoor pay phones with booths were installed. In 1960, the Bell System installed its one millionth telephone booth. In 2000, there were over 2 million payphones in the United States.

Between 2007 and 2008 the number of payphones in the United States in operation had declined by 58 percent and has steadily declined due to the popularity of cell phones. All this is leading me again to thinking about the locations of pay phones in the Quincy-Hannibal area.  It’s been so long since I used one.

Are there any payphones out there?  If so, where are they and how much does it cost to make a local call?

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