19th Century New York Was Covered in an Insane Web of Telephone Wires

Illustration for article titled 19th Century New York Was Covered in an Insane Web of Telephone Wires

Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the telephone in 1875, but the first phone installation didn't come about for another three years. And that's what makes these photos from 1887 so incredible; this tangled mass of telephone wires had already wound itself around New York City's streets just seven years after that first installation.

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Illustration for article titled 19th Century New York Was Covered in an Insane Web of Telephone Wires
Illustration for article titled 19th Century New York Was Covered in an Insane Web of Telephone Wires
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Then in 1888, just a year after these photos were taken, a massive snowstorm dumped nearly two feet of snow onto the city and ravaged the massive web of wires in the process. Only then did the city's officials think that it might be a good idea to bury telephone lines instead of weaving them around buildings. Just imagine, if the wires hadn't moved underground when they did, that growing knot might very well have blacked out the sky entirely. [Library of Congress via Cracked]

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DISCUSSION

pierreriviere
The Whore of Evil Beckoning You into the Brothel of Despair

Are these all phone lines? I thought Edison's electrical system (direct current) required a massive number of lines, hence its replacement with alternating current.