Pacific Northwest Bell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company
Industry Telecommunications
Fate Merged into Mountain Bell
Predecessor Pacific Telephone and Telegraph
Successor U S WEST Communications
Founded July 1, 1961 (1961-07-01)
Defunct January 1, 1991 (1991-01-01)
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Area served
Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho
Parent AT&T (1961-1983)
U S WEST (1984-1990)

Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company was an AT&T majority-owned Bell System company that provided local telecommunications services in Oregon, Washington, and northern Idaho. Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company was formed on July 1, 1961 when it was spun off from the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. On January 1, 1984, Pacific Northwest Bell was split from AT&T as ordered in the settlement of United States v. AT&T and became a subsidiary of the newly formed Regional Bell Operating Company U S WEST, Inc. Pacific Northwest Bell became defunct when U S WEST consolidated its three main subsidiaries, forming U S WEST Communications, Inc. on January 1, 1991. U S WEST merged with Qwest Communications International Inc. in 2000, and the US WEST brand was replaced by the Qwest brand. Qwest Communications merged with Louisiana-based CenturyLink in 2011, and the Qwest brand was replaced by the CenturyLink brand.[1]


Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company[edit]

On March 7, 1883, the Sunset Telephone-Telegraph Company opened for business with 90 subscribers. This first office was in rented space in the Western Union Telegraph office. Weeks later the company moved into its own building at the corner of Second Avenue and Cherry Street.[2]

In 1899 the original company was reincorporated as the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company and continued under that name until 1917 when the Sunset Company (which had grown to provide service throughout Washington and northern Idaho) merged with the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Pacific Telephone & Telegraph and Pacific Northwest Bell[edit]

Telephones began to crop up all over Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho. The first Seattle-Tacoma to Portland toll line was built in 1893. Assorted independent telephone companies set up competitive business throughout Oregon and Washington. With competition both the Bell and independent companies found it hard to do business and make money. Under the leadership of J. P. Morgan, the nation's most powerful banker, the Bell companies around the country began to buy out their major competitors. By 1924 The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company had acquired most of the independents' property along the Pacific Coast. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Bell operating company served customers in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho.

On July 1, 1961, AT&T split off Pacific Telephone and Telegraph's operations in the Pacific Northwest as Pacific Northwest Bell. Its service territory included Oregon, Washington and northern Idaho (Southern Idaho was served by Mountain Bell). The new company's first major job was to build the world's most advanced telephone service to serve the Seattle World's Fair which was scheduled to open in less than ten months (April 21, 1962.) This was accomplished.

AT&T breakup[edit]

A Pacific Northwest Bell logo used between 1984-1988

On January 1, 1984, as part of the breakup of AT&T, Pacific Northwest Bell, Mountain Bell and Northwestern Bell became part of U S WEST. The company continued to use the logo it adopted in 1969 but also used a variation which included the tagline "A U S WEST Company".

Seven years later, on January 1, 1991, Pacific Northwest Bell ceased to exist when it was merged into Mountain Bell, which was renamed U S WEST Communications the same day. The Pacific Northwest region went from having been a part of Pacific Bell before 1961 to becoming a part of Mountain Bell. The name is still a registered federal trademark and the domain is also active and points to the website CenturyLink.

Prior to 1984, AT&T held 89.3% in Pacific Northwest Bell.


Pacific Northwest Bell's headquarters was located at 1600 7th Avenue built in 1976 (also known as 1600 Bell Plaza), in Seattle, Washington. until acquired by Qwest Communications.


  1. ^ "CenturyLink and Qwest Agree to Merge". Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  2. ^ "Telephone exchange starts for 90 Seattle subscribers on March 7, 1883.". - the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. Retrieved 2016-04-18.