Area codes 212 and 646

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The blue area is New York State; the red area is area code 212 and overlays 646 and 917

Area codes 212 and 646 are the area codes for most of the borough of Manhattan in New York City in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). By area, it is one of the smallest plan areas in North America.[1] It is overlaid by area code 917, which covers the entirety of New York City.


Area code 212 was one of the original 86 area codes assigned by AT&T in 1947. It served the entire five-borough area of New York City. AT&T assigned area codes to the large cities on the basis of the shortest dialing time to minimize resource contention and operator involvement given the rotary dial technology of the time, and thus New York received the shortest code.

On September 1, 1984, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were split off in area code 718, leaving Manhattan and the Bronx in 212. In 1992, 718 was expanded to include the Bronx, reducing the 212 area to most of Manhattan. In 1992, the entire city was overlaid with area code 917, which was initially planned for only mobile service. Area code 212 was overlaid with area code 646 in Manhattan on July 1, 1999, when new 917 mobile numbers became scarce.

In November 2015, area code 332 was assigned as an additional overlay area code for Manhattan's 212 Numbering Plan Area,[2][3] the fourth serving the area and the seventh serving New York City. It is expected to be installed in 2017, as area codes 212 and 646 are expected to run out of numbers in the third quarter of 2017.[4][5]

Marble Hill[edit]

One Manhattan neighborhood, Marble Hill, is not in the 212/646 area code but the 718/347/929 codes. Marble Hill, although legally a part of Manhattan to this day, was geographically severed from Manhattan by the construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal in 1895. It was physically connected to the Bronx in 1914 when the by-passed segment of the Harlem River was filled in. When the Bronx shifted to 718 in 1992, Marble Hill residents fought to stay in 212, but lost. Marble Hill's trunk is wired into the Bronx line, and it would have been too expensive for New York Telephone to rewire it.

Market reputation[edit]

A business with a 212 area code is often perceived as having stability and roots in Manhattan,[6] particularly if a number has been in service for many decades. One example is PEnnsylvania 6-5000 or 212 PE6-5000, the number for the Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown. The hotel claims that it is the oldest continuously used number in New York City. While that claim is in dispute, the number does appear in a 1940 Glenn Miller Orchestra song title, meaning it predates the 1947 creation of the original North American area codes.

The scarcity of available telephone numbers beginning with the 212 prefix (such numbers are no longer readily available from telecom providers), combined with the code's origin as the city's original area code, result in the 212 code having a prestigious cachet in the eyes of some Manhattan residents.[7][8] Businesses now sell phone numbers with 212 area codes.[9]

The 1960 film Butterfield 8 refers to a telephone exchange name, BU8 (now 288), in the 212 area code. 212-288 serves part of Manhattan's Upper East Side.

The lyrics of 1975 Sugarloaf song "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" begin with a call to "long distance directory assistance, area code 212".

The "Area Code 212 Deli" in Brooklyn announced, in 1984, that it would keep its name, even though it was transferred into Area Code 718.[10]

On the Seinfeld episode "The Maid", Elaine is upset when she is given a 646 number. She loses a prospective boyfriend when the man does not want to have to dial 1-646 before every call.

In August 2010, AT&T reported that there are no new numbers available in the 212 area code.[11] For several years before then, new landlines in Manhattan have been assigned numbers in 917 (or 646). In addition, the Inwood section in far northern Manhattan is overlaid with area code 347, which also began as a cell phone area code.[12] Those who are determined to have a 212 area code now must rely on luck of the draw when they establish their service or on websites where they can purchase the highly coveted area code to port to their land line or cell phone service.

The 2011 song "212" of Azealia Banks refers to this area.

In episode 514 of The Simpsons, Homer refers to area code 212 when he asks if Satan's number falls on that area code when he tries to give him a call.

Various films set in New York City use 1-212-555 numbers; Universal Studios acquired +1-212-664-7665 for use in films like Munich, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Adjustment Bureau, and Definitely, Maybe[13] to avoid the obvious fictional prefix.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

New York area codes: 212, 315, 347, 516, 518, 585, 607, 631, 646, 716, 718, 845, 914, 917, 929
North: 347/718/917, 914, 845, 203/475
West: 201/551, 908, 973/862 area code 212/646 partially covered and surrounded by 917 East: 347/718/917, 516, 631
South: 347/718/917/929/732/848
New Jersey area codes: 201, 551, 609, 732, 848, 856, 862, 908, 973
Connecticut area codes: 203, 475, 860

Coordinates: 40°43′42″N 73°59′39″W / 40.72833°N 73.99417°W / 40.72833; -73.99417