Payphones may be essential to pop culture, Supermen and Matrix-escapees everywhere, but try to remember the last time you actually saw someone using a payphone for its intended purpose. What about the last time you just saw one… anywhere?
Physical payphones are becoming increasingly elusive as mobile technology pushes them towards obsolescence. Which leads to the next logical question — where does old tech go to die? The answer, as photographer Dave Bledsoe found out, is the same place society’s outcasts have sought refuge for years: underneath the highway.
Way up in Upper Manhattan, where the West Side Highway meets 12th Avenue, Bledsoe accidentally stumbled upon this eerie burial ground for the tech of decades past. But at least they have their friends to keep them company, because according to Bledsoe “at least one hundred old, battered pay phones were locked behind a fence near the Park’s Department building.”
And even though the payphones themselves may have lost their usefulness, that still leaves the problem of the multitude of hookups forever scattered across the country. New York is currently attempting to tackle that issue by making use of the still functional connections, challenging people to submit their best ideas — everything from weather sensors to smart kiosks to wind machines has been proposed.
The entire photo set, which you can find on Bledsoe’s Flickr account, acts as a haunting reminder of what can happen to even one of the most iconic societal mainstays while we’re not looking — sad, but still incredibly beautiful. And we wish them the happiest of retirements. [Flickr via Gothamist]