Maybe it does still have a purpose
Your author has returned to Birmingham after a month’s absence in less humid climes. There’s nothing like 100 degree weather to make you question the wisdom of coming back.
The empty phone booth outside the office (2300 block of 2nd Avenue North)–inspiration for an earlier post on phone booth art–was still in the same old, dilapidated and hollowed-out state. But intriguingly, someone had pasted a piece of artwork inside, showing a masked superhero declaring “This City must be saved! And only I can save it!”
Seeing that out my office window makes me think: this city is worth saving. Are there superheroes out there? Not in real life. “Saving” a city takes many people from all walks of life cooperating together to create something bigger than themselves and their own interests.
So humidity or not, let’s roll up our sleeves and jump back in. More soon.
Ah, the public telephone. Seemingly not too long ago, an essential part of the urban fabric. An absolute necessity for staying in touch while on the go. Any urban area of substance had plenty of phone booths within easy walking distance. Searching for a free phone booth was an essential part of urban existence.
Forlorn, and yet...
Now, with the ubiquity of mobile phones, in many US cities it’s hard to find a phone booth anymore, or at least one that still functions. Birmingham is littered with obsolete booths, a testament to antiquated technology. Above is the phone booth directly outside our downtown office, which used to carry an illuminated “South Central Bell” flag sign up top, and a phone (and phone book!) below. Now the sign has been yanked out, along with the phone; the shell is all that remains. An eyesore, right?
But, interestingly we’ve developed a perverse fondness for this phone booth, in its antiquarian-relic state. It still serves as a great landmark for visitors to our place, as well as a memory of a time gone by. What if the empty phone booths around town became public art pieces? Light boxes? Color-coded district markers?
Call for artists
Above is just one example of the creative use of (mainly) defunct phone booths. Even as an ephemeral program, it could be a fun way to get color and art woven into the streetscape.
[Thanks to payphone project for the vintage pic, and to julie fishkin for the art piece]