Most cities stopped repairing broken crosswalk buttons
In many major cities around the US, you're pretty much SOL at a crosswalk. Dallas, for example, made the decision years ago to quit repairing outdated crosswalk buttons (around the same time, it realized the road sensors that tell traffic lights when a car is around weren't working either). To be fair to New York City, about 100 crosswalks actually do have functioning buttons. It's the other 900 or so at which you're pretty much helpless. The best part? It's been that way for years.
Same goes for Los Angeles, which recently (as in, 2013) completed a mammoth 29-year undertaking to convert the majority of its traffic signals to a synchronized system which has no use for buttons, with the exception of a few less-trafficked intersections. In other words, you might have grown up pushing functional crosswalk buttons, but today? Not so much.
Meanwhile in Boston, each and every intersection is managed separately, which sounds about as tricky as putting the right amount of air in a football. In practice, most Downtown-area crosswalk buttons don't work during the day, but they do at night.