the payphone project
stories, pictures, phone numbers and news from payphones and public telephony
This list is far from complete. However, I think it represents the best of what has been written about this site over the years. I lost track of many sources which wrote about this site. If you know of a substantive story about this site that is not listed here, contact me.
- Minnesota Public Radio: Hanging up the phone (December 4, 2007)
"Payphones, in an age of cellphones, are virtually non-existent. Its death is also a testament to the inability to revive a dying industry through government action."
- The Lede (A New York Times blog) A Place in Our Hearts for Pay Phones (December 3, 2007)
"No one seems to have more pay-phone passion than Mark Thomas, the proprietor of payphone-project.com..."
- BBC Radio Interview With Alan Dein (MP3 Audio)
This segment was part of the "Don't Hang Up" radio special that aired on BBC Radio 4.
- New York Times (May 13, 2004)"It started as an art project. ... But soon the project changed as panicked e-mail messages started arriving from people who needed to learn the location of a certain pay phone."> this story was A1, front page of the New York Times, May 13, 2004
- St. Petersburg Times: Random brushes with humanity (July 20, 2004)
"He would dial the number but not speak. Instead, when a street person or prostitute picked up the ringing pay phone on Kennedy Boulevard, he played a recording of his classical piano. He imagined the puzzled stranger on the other end of the line, and his music tinnily transcending the seedy street."
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: A Ringing Endorsement (December 12, 1998)"We live in a time when every human contact is orchestrated. Bill Clinton tried some spontaneity and look where it got him. Yet, every once and again, a brave soul steps into the gap of danger and endeavors to touch people at random. This is best done by telephone. Take it from Mark Thomas."
- USA Today (April 10, 2005)"Mark Thomas, a New York pianist who runs a Web site to help people track the locations of pay-phone numbers, says that as long as people need them, pay phones will endure -- and that they should not be required to be profitable any more than streetlights are."
- MPNnow: Brother, can you spare a quarter? (July 5, 2006)"Believe it or not, there is, in fact, a whole legion of pay phone admirers out there, from midtown Manhattan to Rome, Italy. And they're (sic) fearless leader is Mark Thomas of New York City."
- Yahoo's The 9 says: Put down your cell phone! (August 30, 2006)"The Payphone Project is the online source for all your international payphone related news, stories, and photos. The best part is the photo gallery, representing all seven continents."
- New York Times (May 14, 1998)"Somewhere there's a pay phone ringing, thanks to Mark Thomas."
- TimeOut NY (April 10-17, 2003)"Pay-phone aficionado Mark Thomas has one bizarre little black book."
- Repubblica.it: Una telefonata in capo al mondo? Sul web l'elenco delle cabine
(I wonder what this says...)
- NBC's "Today" Show, October 8, 1999
- ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings (I was interviewed on camera for this segment, but never saw it and do not remember the date. It was sometime in 1998.)
- Whad'Ya Know? National Public Radio, May 15, 2004
The part of the program which references the Payphone Project starts about 6 minutes into the show.
I got a lot of e-mail and phone calls about this spot, mostly from friends and others who wrote to say they were "sorry" or otherwise embarrassed for me. The host of the show chose to do the segment live, without screening any of the numbers before calling. Since most payphones do not accept incoming calls, this was mostly a segment of recorded messages saying "We're sorry, this phone is not in service for incoming calls" and similar things. I found the segment not so much embarrassing as disappointing, since a small bit of planning could have made it interesting. From what the producer told me, those involved in the creation of this segment felt it was great comedy. So give it a listen and decide for yourself.
I had nothing to do with this segment.
- CIO.com: Calling All StrangersMark A. Thomas started the Payphone Project on a whim in 1995. He first collected numbers from friends and then from visitors to the site. He has now amassed a database with thousands of pay phone numbers. "By listing pay phone numbers, I invited people to pick up the phone and call to see who answered and maybe have a laugh," says Thomas, a classical pianist living in New York City.
- St. Petersburg Times (June 9, 2000)
- Columbia News Service
- Audio: Recording of a New Zealand radio station calling a number listed on the Payphone Project.
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