Houston Chronicle: Why you're going to see pay phones along Emancipation Avenue in Houston

Full article by Craig Hlavaty


Pay phones have largely gone extinct, a relic of a time when we didn't have the world glued to our hands 24 hours a day. An art project on Houston's east end is bringing pay phones back on the block for a new educational purpose.

Project Row Houses' new "The TréPhonos" installation from art engineer Matt Fries, sculptor Julian Luna, and photographer and social sculpture artist Jeanette Degollado will see the placement of three pay phones along Emancipation Avenue, each with a special artistic twist. The goal of the project is to highlight the culture of Houston's Third Ward.

One pay phone ("TréMixTape") will play music recorded by local musicians from the neighborhood. A second phone ("TréSonic") will feature ambient noise and sounds with an option for those that interact with the installation to leave messages for one another. The third phone ("TréPhonos Sankofa") will be a collaborative project with area creatives and residents telling stories about the history of the neighborhood. All the phones will be solar-powered to boot.