If asked to describe London in five words or less, the iconic red phone booth would likely come up. That seems kind of ironic though; cell phones overtook the land line a while ago, why would a pay phone still be so important?
There are plenty of reasons of why a phone booth shouldn’t be so popular, but today, after yet another photo of myself in a phone booth, I tried to think of a few reasons of why they are.
The first reason is tradition; because we’re all human, and what person doesn’t love tradition? Tradition is a large part of culture and of life, whether it be in everyday activities or once a year traditions or holidays. Even for Londoners, the image of foggy London town with its black taxi cab, Big Ben, a red double-decker bus, and a phone booth, is powerful and meaningful.
The second reason I came up with is the sheer volume of these phone booths. Just about any street in central London still has one, either on the street or right around the corner. This is significantly different than in the States; phone booths and pay phones seemed to have already been removed or put out of use.
The third and final reason for the popularity of the classic red phone booth, in my personal opinion, is due to the large number of tourists that visit London. Because, being a tourist myself, if I go to London but don’t get a photo of myself popping out of a phone booth, did I really even go to London? The answer depends on who you ask, but those with Instagram accounts will most likely say no. As we like to say, “Do it for the Insta.” If, by some odd chance, all of the phone booths were to be taken down throughout the city of London, I’m sure the tourists would notice, even if it was their first time in the city.
As a personal advocate for these classic phone booths, I hope that even in the age of the cell phone, these booths remain here in London for as long as possible. And even though people may not be using them to place calls as much anymore, Londoners are reinventing them in unique ways so they are not only beautiful, but practical too.
Meanwhile, though I’ve already taken my fair share of photos in various phone booths around the city, I’m more than likely going to have at least a few more photo-ops in the lovely red boxes that we all know and love.