Sunday, May 19, 2024


The world’s first telephone was invented in 1876 by a Scottish-born inventor, Alexander Graham Bell. The US government issued patents to the inventor after the invention of the telephone. At that time, the telephone service started to appear all over the world. Queens was no exception. Learn more at queens-future.

Alexander Graham Bell in New York and Thomas A. Watson in San Francisco made the first record transmission of voice over the telephone. They talked to each other. The New York Times magazine reported that the event occurred in October 1876. The men talked on the telephone over two miles of wire that had been laid between Cambridge and Boston. Therefore, the first telephone conversation was held in the history of the telephone service.

The first telephone line and company

Construction of the first telephone line was completed in 1887 between Boston and Somerville. Throughout the following years, the construction of telephone lines was very rapid.

The first telephone company opened its headquarters in Brooklyn in 1879. A year later, telephone lines were installed at the Williamsburg exchange. The telephone lines run to Maspeth.

The Bell telephone company acquired a controlling shareholding in the Western Electric Company in 1882. The company was founded in New York State in 1885. This state was the starting point for the intercity telephone network. The Western Electric Company served as the production unit of the Bell telephone company. 

The first local central telephone building in the Ridgewood area was opened in 1894 on Green Avenue near Broadway in Bushwick. The old office was replaced by a new and large central office in early 1903.  At that time, 20 operators worked there. The company had its first 1,000 customers.

When residential property developers were buying plots of land and building brick houses in Ridgewood, the headquarters in Bushwick started to expand. The company hired 66 operators and  7,000 lines were served. A telephone line was constructed between New York and Chicago in 1892.  New York and Boston were already connected in 1894. 

Active development of telephony

A Hegeman new telephone exchange started operating in Queens in 1925, it allowed users to dial in the subscriber’s number. At that time, the candlestick telephone came into fashion that represented a separate receiver held by the user to the ear during a call. 

Then the Western Electric Company presented a unique advertisement in one of the local New York publications. It was said that the candlestick telephone featured a mouthpiece mounted at the top of the stand and a receiver that was held by the user to the ear during a call. Candlestick telephones already started to go out of fashion in Queens in 1930. Manufacturers began to combine the mouthpiece and receiver into a single device. It should be noted that this trend has continued to this day. The Fairview Avenue building with 10 telephone exchanges served 56,000 phones and received about 250,000 calls per day in Queens in 1959.

The Western Electric Company started to produce telephone booths in 1920. They opened the headquarters in Queens.

On November 22, 1929, the Western Electric Company published an interesting article with the headline “Western Electric Seizes Land of Middle Village”. The company bought back a large factory and additional land in Middle Village. The factory was expected to expand rapidly, producing more than 1,000 phone booths per month.

The Western Electric Company bought a factory in Middle Village and leased another factory at 1201 Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn for several years. The sale included all property, buildings and equipment in Middle Village, all patents and current developments, as well as the inventory in the factories. Despite that, new large companies started to appear in New York that continued to improve communication and allowed people to communicate with each other.

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