At one time outdoor pay phones seemed to be scattered across Detroit. The heavy-duty phones were mounted on poles near street corners or attached to the outside of party stores, gas stations, and other places where there may be heavy foot traffic. Most city restaurants had them, as did many of the strip mall and shopping center parking lots. At select locations there were phone booths that housed the pay phone. The little glass structures offered a little privacy, reduced traffic noise, and softened the general urban sounds for those making calls.
With the introduction of the cell phone, pay phones and phone booths have all but disappeared from the outdoor cityscape. Now people reach into their pocket, pull out their cell phones and talk loudly about things only important to them. Many users are completely oblivious to their surroundings, and whether indoors or out, people using them talk rather loud. It’s as if they were sitting in stadium bleachers filled with people talking to their neighbor, or sitting in a nightclub trying to talk over loud, pounding music.
On occasion I see where outdoor public pay phones used to be, but rarely see any that work. The ones I’ve seen are usually stripped of the handset or the push-button units have been pried off and probably sold as scrap. Others were more than likely removed by the phone company as more and more people migrated to cell phones. In most cases, I could see where phones have been, but now there is nothing left but a faded phone company sign or a mounting bracket attached to a pole or storefront location where the phone once was.
Like 8-track and VCR tapes, the tough outdoor pay phone has slowly become a relic of the past.