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Jan. 24, 2013 9:00 am

The first intercity phone call occurred in 1877 in Philly (and more local telephone firsts)

The first intercity phone call occurred in 1877 in Center City. Elisha P. Gray, a rival of Alexander Graham Bell’s, called New York City from the Western Union Telegraph Company at 10th and Chestnut Streets, Hidden City reported in a feature about Philly’s rich telephone history. And the phone call wasn’t just transmitting words. From […]

John Wanamaker's Store (above) in 1900. It was the first store to install Bell telephones for the public. Photo credit: PhillyHistory.org

The first intercity phone call occurred in 1877 in Center City. Elisha P. Gray, a rival of Alexander Graham Bell’s, called New York City from the Western Union Telegraph Company at 10th and Chestnut Streets, Hidden City reported in a feature about Philly’s rich telephone history. And the phone call wasn’t just transmitting words.

From Hidden City:

The [first intercity] call was actually the world’s first long-distance telephone concert. In the Western Union building, pianist and music instructor Frederick Boscovitz played a piano that was heard by an audience at New York’s Steinway Hall. Subsequent concerts with other instruments and singers were also performed by players in Philadelphia and transmitted to New York. And you thought Skype was pretty amazing.

Read the full story here.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called β€œIt’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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