Photo Of The Day

There are still 12,000 pay phones in NYC and those without power are lining up.

With power knocked out in her Sandy-ravaged neighborhood—rendering her cellphone useless—she got a crash course in the low-tech, low-status devices. She returned to her local pay phone Wednesday with more quarters and better knowledge of the pay-phone locations in her area. “You miraculously get resourceful and start seeing them everywhere,” she says. Not since the birth of the iPhone has the pay phone experienced such demand, thanks to Sandy. Natural disasters tend to vindicate the public pay phone. With their clunky bodies mounted high and sometimes behind glass stalls, they generally remain serviceable during power outages, even amid flooding. When times get tough, in fact, the biggest challenge is often keeping the devices free of coin overloads.