Internet Explorer 11 is not supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

The Death of the Pay Phone

Once numbering over 2 million in the U.S., an estimated 100,000 remain. But they are getting hard to find. Especially ones that work.

Editor's Note: On Monday, May 23, 2022, New York City’s last public pay phone was unbolted from a sidewalk in Midtown Manhattan and ceremoniously placed on the back of a flatbed truck. The relic from a bygone age already has a new home at the Museum of the City of New York. Even though this particular phone was officially recognized as the city’s last, a handful of others stubbornly remain. In New York and across the country, this once-ubiquitous communication device continues its slide into oblivion.
01 1610_Las Vegas 761BTL.jpg
Las Vegas, Nev.
02 1512_High Point NC 001a.jpg
High Point, N.C.
03 1606_Adirondacks 100a.jpg
Blue Mountain, N.Y.
04 1412_Seattle 371.jpg
Seattle, Wash.
05 1706_Denver 786A.jpg
Denver, Colo.
06 1811_salton Sea 168a.jpg
Niland, Calif.
07 1610_Las Vegas 045BTL.jpg
Las Vegas, Nev.
Payphones in the Indiana state capitol
Statehouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
08 2005_ADK Old Forge 114a.jpg
Old Forge, N.Y.
09 1801_Oakland 320a.jpg
Oakland, Calif.
10 2111_SmithersMontgomery WV 107a.jpg
Montgomery, W.V.
11 1204__Dallas 537a.jpg
Dallas, Tx.
12 1508_Gifford 092.jpg
Gifford, S.C.
This article was updated on May 26, 2022 to include the image from Indianapolis, Ind., and the notice about the removal of New York City's last public pay phone.
David Kidd is a photojournalist and storyteller for Governing. He can be reached at
From Our Partners