These emergency call boxes used to be everywhere in Milwaukee

These emergency call boxes used to be everywhere in Milwaukee

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At one time, more than 2,500 of these handsome metal telephone boxes dotted the city sidewalks of Milwaukee. Police and fire call boxes like the one pictured below meant, for the first time in history, getting help in an emergency was just a phone call away.

Photo credit: Bobby Tanzilo / OnMilwaukee

Imagine how innovative that must have felt in the late 1880s.

Over the last 100 years, the telephone boxes and have gradually yet steadily disappeared from the Milwaukee landscape, either deliberately removed by the city, falling into disrepair or stolen. Today it’s unclear exactly how many remain on the streets, but there are enough around that you’ve probably encountered one.

This week on Urban Spelunking, we discuss these little relics of Milwaukee history, and we answer the question: Do any of them still work? Listen to this week’s episode below, and be sure to read Bobby Tanzilo’s complete in-depth story at

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