TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: San Francisco and Oakland Exchange Numbering

Re: San Francisco and Oakland Exchange Numbering
24 Oct 2005 13:48:41 -0700

Mark Roberts wrote:

> The 1935 directory also included just about *every* Bay Area
> community. Oakland-Piedmont-Berkeley-Alameda were listed first, then
> the business directory, then San Francisco, then San Mateo and San
> Jose.

Thanks for sharing the results of your library research.

I wonder how many subscribers still have the same number as in 1935.

We once compared the Phila White Pages of 1958 and 1998. To our
surprise, quite a few people lived in the same place with the same
phone. Quite a few more lived in the same place but with a different
number. We also saw presumably widows, such 1958 showing a man's
first name and 1998 showing the same listing but with a woman's first
name "Mrs." instead. And we saw ethnic movements, such as the same
person changing addresses from one ethnic neighborhood typical of 1958
to the ethnic neighborhood typical of 1988.

Business numbers tended to radically change because many businesses no
longer existed (almost all Phila banks have changed) and most others
went Centrex. Pre-Centrex numbers were around for a very long time,

I compared a 1923 suburban directory with today and found only one
continuous listing -- that of a church, still with the name number
(expanded from the manual "Town 23" to "947-0023".)

> By 1958, PIedmont, AShberry, BErkeley all were gone as exchanges.
> (N.B. There's a key gap here because the 1954-57 directories are
> missing or not available.)

You're lucky the old directories were available. My sources are old

> The local calling guide is missing from the June 1966 directory, but
> approximately half the list of rate centers and message unit charges
> still is extant.

To save a bit of money, some phone directories were printed in two
styles -- one with the front calling guide, some without. Subscribers
actually in the service zone would get the calling guide, everyone
else (and there were quite a few) got the book without. For instance,
we lived in the city at the border. We always got the city directory
(with guide) and the suburban directory (without the guide). By the
1960s these guides could be 30 pages long. They also stopped putting
the guide in yellow pages. When I would look at out-of-town
directories in the library to look for weird calling patterns, I'd get
frustrated by the missing call guide.

> There's an odd statement in May 1964 directory in the area code
> listings, "To make a direct Distance call, just dial the Area Code and
> then the telephone number". Does that mean no "1" or "211" was used?

In many places no "1" was required. Remember area codes were
distinguished by having a 0 or 1 as the second digit. Indeed, some
areas didn't get a 1 prefix until area codes and exchanges would
overlap in more recent years.

After DDD (along with other automation for operators), 211 lost value
and 0 was used for operator handled toll calls. Also, subscribers by
that time knew how to dial and machines were more reliable so there
was less need for basic dial assistance by the operator on local
calls. Thus, the 0 operator evolved into the long distance operator.

Thanks again for sharing the information.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Lisa asked how many subscribers have
the same number over a large number of years. Ameritech asked this
question of their subscribers in the little monthly handout they used
to give each month with the phone bill: The two oldest _business sub-
scribers_ with the same number (as of middle 1980's when the poll was
taken) were: Yellow Taxicab Company (assigned to CALumet-6000 in
1912, still had 312-225-6000 in the early 1980's) and the Drake Hotel
(Michigan and Oak Street, near north side, assigned to SUPerior-2100
in 1919, still had 312-787-2100 in the early 1980's. But Yellow Cab
lost that number (but kept their main office number 225-6010) when
they merged their dispatching center with Checker Taxicab (formerly
on MONroe-6-3700 [since about 1915 or so]; the new central dispatch
number for the combined function became 312-TAXICAB. Now I suppose it
is all '773' since the dispatch office is south/southwest side. PAT]

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