100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Policeman Electrocuted By Phone In Philadelphia

The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. The next year the first police telephone was installed in Albany, New York. Call boxes for use by both police and members of the public were first installed in Washington, DC in 1883, in Chicago and Detroit in 1884 and in Boston in 1885. These were direct line telephones placed on a post which could often be accessed by a key or breaking a glass panel. In Chicago, the telephones were restricted to police use, but the boxes also contained a dial mechanism which members of the public could use to signal different types of alarms.

On September 24, 1912 a severe northeast storm pounded Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with heavy rains and high winds. As a result several power lines were downed. Philadelphia policeman George Freeman went to use a police call box at the corner of 52nd Street and Haverford in West Philadelphia. The telephone line connecting the call boxes became electrically charged by a charged line and Freeman was electrocuted. Several other officers were also shocked while trying to use the call boxes but Freeman was the only one to be killed as a result. Freeman, a nine-year police veteran, left a wife and two sons.

Police call box

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