Phone Lines of Stockholm in the Late Nineteenth Century

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

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It's interesting to compare that to the utility lines in NYC in the 1880s, like and . In NYC there were dozens of different companies stringing up lines, and in competition so they weren't going to share poles. The result was visual mayhem, compared to those orderly Stockholm pictures. The city wanted the lines to be buried, but the companies didn't want to pay for the expense, and would get an injunction each time the city tried to pass an ordinance. It wasn't until the Blizzard of 1888 followed by the election of Mayor Grant and several gruesome deaths that the deadly eyesores finally came down.
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