TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: The First Mayoral Long-Distance Call

Re: The First Mayoral Long-Distance Call

Anthony Bellanga (
Tue, 25 Oct 2005 15:35:37 -0600


Please, DO NOT DISPLAY my email address...
neither in the "From" line nor in the "Reply-to" line.

Mark Roberts ( wrote:

> "Mayor to Get 1st Dial Phone Call From N.J.", in the Oakland
> (Calif.) Tribune, November 9, 1951.

> [Alameda is the island community adjacent to Oakland on the south.]

> ALAMEDA, Nov. 9 -- Leslie Denning and Frank Osborn -- who don't know
> each other -- will make history together tomorrow.

> They will inaugurate the first transcontinental direct dialing system.

> Denning, the mayor of Englewood, N.J., a small city on the Palisades
> facing Manhattan, will twirl his telephone dial 10 times and, in a
> matter of seconds, be connected with Alameda's Mayor in his City Hall
> office.

> Englewood was chosen by Bell Telephone Company technicians as the
> "guinea pig" site for establishing the ultra-complex mechanisms that
> will enable the area's 10,000 residents to dial telephone calls to
> most parts of the country direct.

> Thus far, the new direct system [rip in clipping lost some words] can
> be placed in operation [another rip] in the New Jersey city.


> Their Mayor will be given his history-making companion's number --
> LAkehurst 3-9727 -- but before ringing that up on his phone he will
> spin out 4-1-5.

> That is the code number for the Oakland area, good for dialing any
> phone in Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville,
> Hayward, Oakland, Richmond, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and San Pablo.

> [I'll interject here: Based on my reading of the phone directories
> from this period, the core "East Bay" area extended from El Cerrito,
> just to the south of Richmond, to San Leandro. I'm not sure what would
> have been considered local to Richmond or San Pablo; similarly, what
> would have been local to San Lorenzo and Hayward.]

> Similarly, the area code number for the San Francisco area is
> [missing]-8 [is this 3-1-8? I'll have to check the microfilms]; for
> Sacramento, it is 9-1-6; for New York it is 1-1; for Chicago, it is
> 3-1-2.

Indeed, the San Francisco "West Bay" area (including north of the
Golden Gate area) was dialed from Englewood NJ with 318, not 415, in
this 1951 original customer long distance dialing plan.

The reason that the East Bay was dialed from Englewood with 415 (the
ultimate area code for the entire Bay area until the East Bay split
off initially to 510 in 1991) while the West Bay (San Francisco) was
dialed from Englewood with 318, is not really stated anywhere.

It couldn't be that there were "duplicate" NNX central office codes/
names/letters in use in the entire Bay area, since "cross-bay" calls
had already been dialed as just 2L-5N and continued to be dialed as
such for many years to come (I assume until 510 split off for the East
Bay, split from 415 in 1991).

The only explanation that has been given by some is that AT&T wanted a
more discrete way to identify each side of the Bay for both customer
reference purposes, as well as for more discrete routing and rating
purposes. Both sides of the Bay had their own tandem or toll switches,
and I only assume that Englewood's toll switch or local No.5 Crossbar
needed an upfront way to identify the East Bay (415) from the West Bay
(318) up-front, to then route the call directly to the Oakland tandem
(415) vs. the San Francisco tandem (318).

This was only a temporary measure, and I wonder if it might have
really been possible to dial either area code for either side of the
Bay when dialing from Englewood NJ back then. Official Bell System
area code maps I've seen from the early 1950s make no mention of 318
at all. These maps show only 415 for all of northern central
California along the Pacific Coast. Of course, only the metropolitan
Bay area was intended to be customer dialed from Englewood in
1951. While area codes date back to the late 1940s and there was a
developed and continued developing area code format throughout the
1950s, most of them were used only by operators at the time, while
customer originated DDD was slowly growing as well as the number of
locations which could be dialed by such customers with DDD.

318 was NOT listed as one of the original 1947 area codes, neither. I
don't know when Bell actually reclaimed it from use from Englewwod NJ
customers. I don't even know if the experiment at Englewood NJ
beginning November 1951 even had any official "end date".

If customer-originated long distance dialing from Englewood NJ
continued on without any interruption, by 1953 or so, there really
wouldn't have been a need for a separate 318 from 415, since
originating local and toll crossbar switching at Englewood would have
had more recent upgraded translations equipment to be able to
determine East Bay vs. West Bay by analyzing the entire 415-NNX code
as dialed by the customer, instead of analyzing only the three-digit
area code up-front needing to determine East Bay vs. West Bay upfront
by 415 vs. 318.

But by 1957, AT&T assigned 318 to northern, central, south-central,
and southwestern Louisiana, splitting from 504. And 318 is now just
northern Louisiana, since 337 split from 318 in 1999 for south-central
and south- western Louisiana.

- Anthony Bellanga

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: ana: "Vintage "Pen Register"?"
Go to Previous message: Steven Lichter: "Re: Caller ID TIME For Setting Time on Regular Pots Analog Phones"
May be in reply to: Mark Roberts: "The First Mayoral Long-Distance Call"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page