Environment: The Great Phone-Out

It was as if someone wanted to expose the vulnerability—and perhaps the ecological interdependence—of a highly mechanized urban society. Nobody knows who did it, but by the end of last week, at least seven fires had been set to New York Telephone Co. property in the nation's largest city. Fortunately, only the first did real damage. Blazing late last month, it destroyed a major switching station in lower Manhattan. Until service can be restored, 170,000 phones in the surrounding area were silenced and some 300,000 New Yorkers were deprived of a vital electronic...

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