NOTE: This article was originally posted in November 2007. The phone booth has since been removed.
Sometimes changing technology can impact the landscape around it. Strange Geography notes the looming passage of an era: Washingtonpost.com reports today on the Washington DC area’s last public phone booth. Apparently none of us noticed as these iconic structures slowly slipped away. So where is this outdated structure located?
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It’s missing a front door and a plastic pane or two. The phone books are long gone. But there’s still a dial tone, and you can still make a call. It’s a Washington monument of sorts, the last known working public phone booth in the region and one of only a handful left in the United States. Even in this everyone’s-got-a-cellphone era, people step into the 1970s booth in Arlington County several times a day to make a call. Officials at Verizon Communications say about five calls a day are made from the booth in Clarendon, which is just like the kind Superman used to duck into. But time might be running out for this relic. If the phone booth needs replacing, it’s, well, history.
What is unstated in the article is that this phone booth sits right next to a large Verizon building known as the 10th & Irving Switch. It’s the radiation point for all local loops, DSL and Broadband services in the Clarendon section of Arlington County, Virginia and surrounding neighborhoods. I’m guessing that nostalgia has something to do with the survival of this lone sentinel. Even the building is a relic of the past. It was designed for a time when telecommunications equipment was large and bulky. When peering through a window, one can see rack after empty rack inside. Digital equipment takes up much less space and so much of the building sits idle, quietly aging. Visit while you can before it goes the way of the dinosaurs.