Art on call: DC's historic police and fire call boxes transformed

  • Source: WUSA-TV CBS 9 Washington, D.C.
  • Published: 10/15/2020 12:00 AM

VIDEO: Before the age of two-way radios, police and fire call boxes could be found on numerous corners across the District of Columbia. The first installations of these boxes began as early as the 1860s. Firefighter call boxes were connected to a central call station and emergency responders would receive a telegraph of which box to dispatch to. District police installed their own set of call boxes in the 1880s. Officers would patrol neighborhoods and use the call boxes to check in with local precincts for any emergencies. With the inventions of radio communication and the 9-1-1 system, many of these call boxes became obsolete in the early 1970s. Most of the electronic components were fully removed by 1995. The call boxes remained throughout the city, too heavy to remove as they rusted and deteriorated.


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