Imagined Conversations about NYC’s Area Codes

March 25, 2015 | Liam Mathews

Tuesday’s New York Times ran a story about status-conscious transplants trying to secure phone numbers with 212 area codes so that they don’t look like fresh-off-the-boat peasants. 212, you see, is the oldest, most exclusive New York City area code, a Park Avenue address for your phone. New York has so many phones that another new area code is in the works for 2017, because all the numbers from the 212, 917, and 646 numbers will be used up by then. Every now and then, though, out-of-service 212 numbers become available. They’re so desirable that people are willing to pay a hefty sum to secure one from area code brokerages like 212areacodes.com, whose owner David Day told the Times that some people want 212 cell phone numbers to serve as “conversation pieces.” We ranked the desirability of Manhattan area codes, and imagined what conversations about area codes might look like.

1. 212

Paula: “Wow, a 212 area code! You just moved here, how did you get it?”

Samantha: “I paid a thousand dollars to a guy who deals them.”

Paula: “That is not the answer I was expecting. I was not actually expecting any answer, I was making a rhetorical point about how it’s kind of surprising, is all. Samantha, your obsession with status has turned you into a monster.”

Samantha: “I know. You won’t believe what I did for a Soho House membership.”

2. 718

Jessica: “That’s a very cool vintage Crazy Eddie t-shirt. Where’d you get it?”

Jonathan: “I was there. I grew up in Brooklyn. I have a 718 area code.”

Jessica: “Neat! So you must have a lot of cool stories of New York City in the ’70s and ’80s.”

Jonathan: “I’m the novelist Jonathan Lethem. I have literally written thousands of pages about New York City in the ’70s and ’80s. I’m very good at it.”

3. 917

Scott: “I’ve had a 917 area code since it was created in 1992.”

Kevin: “Wow, you’re very old.”

Scott: “I still use my car phone from then, too. Using outdated technology is the ultimate power move. Did you know Rupert Murdoch still uses the Pony Express?”

4. 347

Gerald: “I just got out of Rikers and I need a phone.”

Kathy: “Take this one. The number is 347-901-7779.”

Gerald: “That’s perfect. 347 is a gritty area code that only covers the boroughs, and I’m a gritty dude.”

5. 646

Terry: “The co-op board rejected me! I have no idea why!”

Pat: “I think it’s because you have a 646 area code.”

Terry: “You’re right. I understand now. My 646 area code is something I’m truly ashamed of, even more than abandoning my family.”

6. Whatever area code will be unveiled in 2017

Skylar: It was really nice meeting you. I’d like to see you again. Can I get your number?

Schuyler: Of course! It’s 917-531-5309

Skylar: Awesome. I’m texting you now so you have mine.

Schuyler: (looks at phone) Gasp!

Schuyler throws her phone into the river

Schuyler: I cannot believe you texted me from a new 2017 area code. I can’t allow such filth to appear on my phone’s screen. I don’t even know who you are. Go away from me and never speak to me again.

7. 929

Glenn: “A 929 area code? What the fuck is that shit? I’ve never even heard of that. That’s pathetic. Fuck outta here with your 929 area code.”

(Photo: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight)