For decades, they were part of the regular landscape of every city in the world. Until the disruption of new technologies arrived. No one needs them anymore, without our noticing, they disappeared from the urban landscape. Telephone booths passed into the decadence into which disused items fall into.
Telephone booths are a thing of the past
In Spain, a telecommunications law marked the end for them from 2022. The end for a history of more than 100 years of coexistence with citizens around the world. However, many people did not even notice that they are gone and it is even more difficult to tell the younger ones that once people formed long queues waiting for their turn to make a call.
The quaint booths are well aware of the culprit of their demise, the cell phone, which also made phone books extinct. In New York, the last surviving phone booth was removed in 2022. Today they are part of nostalgia.
In 2018, in Spain, there were about 17 thousand booths active and working, although no one used them anymore. For the company to which they belonged, this was loss-making. However, to give them a little more time, many were reconverted and given other utilities.
In New York, they tried to keep them in the urban landscape, transforming them into WiFi access points. Others, with USB connectors for recharging cell phones, tourist information points or for charging electric cars.
They are part of the history of every city
Telephone booths have their history in every country in the world, they were installed in every city. However, the red London booths are the ones that prevail in the collective imagination. Those used by Harry Potter and his friends to infiltrate the Ministry.
They were also part of other movies, where we will surely continue to see them. In some of them, such as The Godfather, Charade, Superman, The Sopranos and many others, they were protagonists. Spies, criminals, prison escapees, heartbroken lovers, used them to make the famous clandestine calls, where it was impossible for the police to trace the call.
In Spain, although the first public telephone was installed in what is now Florida Park in 1928, the first proper booth was installed in 1963. The first ones were only used to make urban calls. They were made of aluminum and glass, worked with a token telephone and had a special support where the telephone directory was located.
Today’s citizens no longer need them and that is why they are no longer part of the urban landscape. They went to the corner of nostalgic memories together with cassette tapes, VHS videos, photographic rolls and videoclubs. Surveys show that 88% of today’s population has never used a telephone booth.