Reach out and touch some history
Utility carts are common sights on city streets. They bear the company logo, usually Verizon or Con Edison, and also bear years of "contributions" -- graffiti, marker doodles, stickers of all manner (you'll often find an old Andre the Giant or a Tattoo from "Fantasy Island"), and of course, all manner of accumulated street grime. They are often overlooked, but make interesting subjects of study if you actually stop for a second and see what's there.
The one profiled here caught our eye in Manhattan this weekend because, deep behind the layers of gunk, lies a bit of telecommunication history. It says "New York Telephone, A NYNEX company." New York Telephone, of course, was the name used by the local phone company until 1994, when it adopted NYNEX, the name of its parent company that had been formed in 1984 when the old Bell System monopoly was broken up. NYNEX, which essentially stood for New York, New England, and the X for some undefined new territory or future, continued through 1997, when it merged with Bell Atlantic. We then had that name until 2000, when Bell merged with GTE to form Verizon, an invented name that sounded bizarre at its birth but is just a part of city life now.
Yet somehow, this little cart has survived in all its Bell System glory. The 1969 Bell logo is there, featured in the NYT logo, above, as well as alone on the cart's hood, right, where it's in even larger form. Furthermore, the old blue and yellow Bell System stripes survive as well. Those stripes were common once, used on the side of phone trucks as well as on hard hats.
-- Rolando Pujol
Bonus: A utility truck featuring the old Bell Atlantic logo recently spotted in Manhattan.
And here are two old NYNEX Yellow Pages ads from the cleverly punning campaign of the late 1980s. Plus: A look at the state of the pay phone business, and the demise of the possibly last rotary pay phone.