“There are thousands in the phone booth”

In the subway, on the streets, in the park, at the library, red, blue or yellow but always empty!

The phone booths have been deserted, thanks to the arrival of mobile phones comfortably installed in almost every urban citizen’s pocket.

But luckily there are phone booth fervent peoples who vie for the defense and for the revival of these spots that were once little revolutions from the cities to the most remote villages.

New York City-based designer and photographer John Locke gave a second life a phone booth on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue by creating a street library.

Even in the United Kingdom, where the red boxes are emblematic landmarks, the phone booths suffer from the same symptoms and fall into neglect. In fact, British Telecom, the main telecommunication company in Britain, launched  the “adopt a kiosk” project in 2008 that allowed everyone to adopt unused phone boxes. Many creative ideas have started to emerge such as defibrillator points or an art gallery (probably the smallest in the world) in North Yorkshire that currently holds a Martin Parr exhibition about mobile phone culture.

There is even a children book about one of the last real phone booth in New York (one that actually is a booth with a door) as only four of them can be counted in Manhattan.

For now let’s travel back in the time when the phone booths were actually used for calling or…beating world records!

Garry Winogrand, New York City, 1972

Weegee, [Boy asleep in telephone booth on Navy Day, New York], ca. 1945

Helen Levitt, New York, 1982

Joe Munroe, [Twenty-two students cramming into a telephone booth to try and establish a stacking record, St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California], 1959

Danny Lyon, Woman in phone booth, from The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, 1966-67

Weegee, [Telephone booth], ca. 1940

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