Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the telephone in 1875, but the first phone installation didn’t come about for another three years. And that’s what makes these photos from 1887 so incredible; this tangled mass of telephone wires had already wound itself around New York City’s streets just seven years after that first installation.
Then in 1888, just a year after these photos were taken, a massive snowstorm dumped nearly two feet of snow onto the city and ravaged the massive web of wires in the process. Only then did the city’s officials think that it might be a good idea to bury telephone lines instead of weaving them around buildings. Just imagine, if the wires hadn’t moved underground when they did, that growing knot might very well have blacked out the sky entirely. [Library of Congress via Cracked]