The wooden phone booths hiding on 42nd Street

The main building of the New York Public Library houses a collection of incredible city treasures—but not all of them are in the reading rooms and galleries.

An Ephemeral reader alerted me to a row of nicely preserved wooden phone booths in the basement.

The phones themselves are touch-tone payphones, unfortunately.

But the booths they’re inside are pure pre-cell phone vintage, with wooden stools, folding doors, automatic fans and lights, even graffiti in the form of phone numbers scribbled on the walls.

There are two booths on the main floor as well, but they lack the folding doors the basement ones feature.

Check out some other old-timey wooden phone booths found in the city.

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10 Responses to “The wooden phone booths hiding on 42nd Street”

  1. Josie Says:

    Love the old wooden phone booths at the NYPL. Too bad the phone books are missing. I remember when public phone banks in train and bus stations had whole sections of current phone books, not just for New York City but for the rest of the country. There might even have been some international directories, not sure.

  2. Larissa Says:

    I love old phone booths! Did you notice if any of the phone numbers are older, predating the 10-digit variety?

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I love them too. The booths are old, but the phones are not, unfortunately.

  4. wordgrl Says:

    Ah, a public amenity. I remember those. Too bad the “public” is not considered these days. Everyone is expected to pay for a mobile phone. Without the amenity of a public phone, many people are left behind.

  5. patsw Says:

    In a reversal, tourists were looking strangely at me as I photographed these phone booths a few months ago.

  6. Old-school phone booths still hanging in there « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] out more examples of the phone booths still holding on around the city. Share this:TwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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  8. The hidden corners of the New York Public Library - Escape Pocket Says:

    […] throngs of tourists crowd the library’s corridors and  Instagram their photos of the vintage wooden phone booths in the basement,  a dozen of the library’s specialized departments quietly provide […]

  9. Rachell Says:

    I have one of these phone booths!! Not a touch tone phone but an old rotary dial pay phone!

  10. Theresa Trantham Says:

    I have one myself. I was wondering if anyone had an idea of what one would sell for??? Please respond if you have an opinion period thank you so much.

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