TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes

Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes

Shalom Septimus (druggist@pobox.c0m)
Wed, 14 Feb 2007 00:09:36 -0500

On Wed, 7 Feb 2007 19:12:22 -0600, Joe Tibiletti <>

> As to archives and comments of telephone number configurations, the prefix
> Zenith was used in the 1950's for non dial telephones in Pacific Palisades
> area of LA. Chicago had in the same period a 2L and 6N in some sub-urban
> area numbers in the same period.

Which explains one thing I'd wondered about. In 1959, one Donna
Dameron recorded an answer song to the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace",
purporting to be the other side of the conversation; the title was
"BOpper 48 - 6609". Which is 8 digits. I originally figured she was
taking some poetic license, but possibly she was in suburban
Chicago ...

> Not all possible combinations were used in
> all area codes, while several private NXX -- such as KRypton was used in
> Houston, Texas, for the Humble Building, and LT (WITH NO MEANING WAS USED

My dad had a (212) LT1-xxxx number for years, that went to an
answering service. I asked him what that stood for, and he said it
didn't stand for anything in particular, which offended my 5-year-old
sense of propriety (at the time, our home phone was (212) EVergreen
5-xxxx, so I was familiar with the concept).

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:
> When telephone exchanges were name/words, they were often times
> assigned based on geographic considerations. For example, Chicago
> used to have FRAnklin (372), DEArborn (332), STAte (782), WABash (922),
> and others downtown; all names familiar to Chicagoans, as well as
> GRAceland (472) and MIChigan (642) on the north side.

Not to mention PIG (744) for the C.P.D., right Pat? ;-)

I just checked their website, and the main switchboard is now
312-746-6000, but they've got some numbers in 747-xxxx as well, so
they might still have 744.


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Neither 'suburban Chicago' nor anywhere
else in (what is now) 312/630/773/815/847 or otherwise northern Illinois
_ever_ had a total of eight digits for dialing; it was always (since
1923 or so) SEVEN digits, although the seven digits were parsed
differently through the late 1940s: sometimes 3 L and 4 D or sometimes
2 L and 5 D, but always the total was SEVEN, never EIGHT. When the
conversion to 2L-5D occurred, then the first of 5D was almost always
what had previously been the third letter. The first 'expansion' in
codes, as it were, occurred when some of the 2L's took an illogical
first D following them. For example, GRAceland, which became GR-2 in
about 1950 was followed in a year or two by GRaceland-7.

City of Chicago's main centrex now uses 744, 745 and 746. The Chicago
Police Department metamorphises went from 'Ask Operator for Police' in
the 1920's to WABash-4700 in the 1950's along with their emergency
gerry-rigged number POLice-1313 in the same time frame through sharing
the centrex with City of Chicago in the 1960's (with PO-5-1313 as the
emergency number), and PIG-4000 for administrative purposes, and of
late, 746-6000 for administrative purposes and 911 for emergency use
only. PIG-4000 is still the main inbound line for all city departments
except police. This was changed, not out of any increased sensibilities,
but because of telephone traffic considerations. PAT]

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