A list of remaining payphones in the Grand Rapids metro turned out to be ancient history. So are there any functioning payphones left in the city?

The Quest For A Working Pay Phone Begins

A list of over 300 payphones allegedly working in Grand Rapids supplied to me by a supervisor turned out to be ten years old and comical as to the businesses this list thought were still functioning.

Places like Electric Avenue on 28th Street, and The Schnitzelbank on Jefferson, not only don't have functioning payphones any more, the buildings those businesses were in aren't there anymore. (The former site of Electric Avenue is now an ALDI.)

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So I asked my radio listeners, have you seen a payphone recently, and if so, did it work?

One listener knew of an actual functioning payphone but it was at Baraga State Park in the Upper Peninsula. It became a curiosity to his kid, but let's face it; it makes sense because cell signals up there suck.

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FUN FACT: It turns out most State Parks have a functioning payphone. 

Another listener said he knows there is one between the Family Fare and Cousin's Chicken in the shopping center at Leonard and Fuller, but he couldn't say for sure if it was working.

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Yet another caller knows for sure there's one outside the Hope Network facility on 36th, but, again, couldn't be sure if it functioned.

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Google Street View
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If There Is One, Why Does It Exist?

I could think of a myriad of reasons why someone might need a coin-operated phone in an emergency, the catch is there aren't enough of those reasons to make the phone profitable for someone to keep it operating.

According to this article from six years ago, payphones were still profitable in 2015, but I'm skeptical that's true in 2022.

This Wiki-How article from just two years ago, lets you know how to find a payphone in an emergency, but I think even their guide may already be obsolete. A simple search at four gas stations in my neighborhood not only revealed no payphones but garnered me strange looks from the clerks inside when I asked where I might be able to find one.

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master1305/GettyStock/ThinkStock
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Here Are Three Classic Hits Revolving Around The Use Of Payphones

OPERATOR -- Jim Croce: A sad tale of love lost to a best friend and a man's search to find them. It doesn't end well.

SYLVIA'S MOTHER -- Dr. Hook: Another man searching for a lover by using a payphone, but this time, rather than giving up, our hero gets cut off by a ball-busting Mrs. Avery, who reveals Sylvia's getting married to a dude from Galveston. Who knows if he could have gotten through a conversation with Sylvia if she had picked up, given that steep long-distance charge of 40 cents for every three minutes.

STANDING OUTSIDE A BROKEN PHONE BOOTH WITH MONEY IN MY HAND -- Primitive Radio Gods: More in line with the true nature of phone booths in the 2000s. this song never mentions in the lyrics the phone booth in the title, and the song never reveals whether the broken phone is ever fixed by the time the woman mentioned in the lyrics, Jan, returns from her trip to New Orleans from Baltimore. Instead, we get a ponderance of philosophical ramblings.

Like Ghosts from the Past, Flint Woman Finds and Photographs Old Payphones Across Michigan

Jennifer Gifford, from Flint, has recently found a unique hobby: finding and sharing photographs of payphones that are still standing in Michigan.