Reinventing the Pay Phone

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New York City is bringing back the pay phone; with a twist.

A project meant to promote an art exhibit has turned 5,000 Manhattan pay phones into time machines. All you have to do is find one of the phones; and yes they still exist, pick up the receiver and dial 1-800-FOR-1993. Then you will hear a well-known New York resident tell you what life was like on that block 20 years ago.

A mix of artists, writers, food and fashion stars took part in the recordings; including Chef Mario Batali. In his sound bite, Batali talks about the difference between opening a New York City restaurant in 1993 and today. Batali says 20 years ago you didn’t need a rich father, or investor or have to put together a team. He says it’s sad to watch the high cost of business drive entrepreneurs out of the game.

The people behind the project say they like the idea of taking a disused system and giving it a purpose. Just as long as people remember how to use a phone without a touch screen.