100,000 payphones still haunt the United States

You may not have noticed, what with there being a cellphone in pocket of almost all Americans, but according to CNN, there's still 100,000 payphone in the United States. This is great news for Maroon 5, superheroes looking for a place to change and 1930s detectives calling into to their office to talk to a sassy secretary.

For those of you too young to remember, before cellphones and smartphones were ubiquitous, staying in touch when you were out and about meant having to ask your bartender to use her phone or finding a payphone. Opting for the latter meant walking, maybe, a few blocks to find a bank of payphones or a phone booth. According to CNN, there were still two million payphones as late as 1999. Just under two decades later, that number has shrunk down to 100,000. As payphone became less profitable, the appeal for large telecoms to spend money on their upkeep lost its luster. Nowadays, when you see a payphone in the wild, it's likely owned by a smaller company with lower expectations of what an acceptable margin of profitability looks like.

That anyone is interested in maintaining a network of payphone in operation is a lifeline to those who can't afford to own a mobile phone, who's smartphone ran out of juice at the worst possible time and during disasters. In the wake of an major earthquake or other major regional event, cellphone networks can often lock up from too many people attempting to access the system at the same time. Payphones? They just keep on keeping on.

Image via Wikipedia