Blue Box on a Portland, Maine, Sidewalk Has Been There for More Than 130 Years
If you've ever walked or driven the streets of Portland, you may have seen one of these very old boxes on a post on the sidewalk. They're so old, that the only one that remains on the street today has been around for about 130 years.
These blue police call boxes were found all around the city of Portland. Originally, I thought they were for the public to call the police in the days before 911. We had a call box on our street that people could use to call the fire department by pulling a lever. Then, the town fire department would blow a horn for the code of what street the box was pulled on. That's not the case for the police boxes.
These boxes were used by police officers to communicate with others in the department before they started using radios. 51 call boxes were spread out throughout the city, and were in use from the 1880s up until the 1970s. Yes, the police had radios in the '70s, but still used the boxes on rare occasions.
Although the department never showed what they look like on the inside, we can only guess there is some type of telephone receiver inside. Back in the 1880s, crank telephones were still in use, but we imagine the technology got upgraded over the nearly 100 years they were in use.
The only one remaining on the street is the one at the corner of Spring and Emery streets, seen here in blue paint, on Google Street View.
There's one more in the lobby of the Portland Police Department.
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