A limitation of the first phone lines in the late 1800s was that there had to be a line for each phone, which was connected to an exchange. Each call was then manually connected by an operator. Thus, the necessary lines were held by towers that looked like fibers connected to a loom.
These vintage photos show the Telefontornet, the telephone exchange tower in Stockholm, Sweden. A typical configuration, it was fraught with risks of danger from storms, fires and other calamities. By 1913, phone technology had progressed to the point that the Telefontornet was no longer used, though the tower stood until 1953 when it caught fire.
See more photos by browsing the collection at Stockholm's Museum of Technology, Tekniska Museet. Via Colossal.
Images: Tekniska Museet