The oldest working phone number in New York

It just might be (212) 736-5000, otherwise known by its old-school moniker PA 6-5000.

It’s the main line for the Hotel Pennsylvania, the massive, worn and weary on Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street open since 1919.

The phone number dates back to at least 1930, when seven-digit numbers replaced five-digit and two-letter numbers.

And it’s immortalized in the Glenn Miller song of the same name.

Call the number, and a recording plays 10 seconds of the song before you’re connected to an operator.

The Hotel Pennsylvania may be reduced to a pile of bricks soon; reportedly it’s to be torn down and an office tower put up in its place.

Once the largest hotel in the world, this McKim, Mead & White building (they designed the original Penn Station) doesn’t seem to have many fans these days.

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12 Responses to “The oldest working phone number in New York”

  1. Josie Says:

    Too bad, the location was great. Seems like just a couple of years ago I read that they were in the process of rehabbing it. However, I also read that it had a tremendous bedbug infestation (since the BB resurgence) that they probably couldn’t control.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I took a walk through it on Friday and I have to say, it wasn’t looking so good. Lots of tourists, but lots of threadbare carpets and unclean corners. Its bones are nice though,

  3. Rob Says:

    Why don’t they just gut it out and give it a grand makeover. It is a beautuful building with a lot of history. I’m surprised it isn’t landmarked!

  4. Nabe News: May 3 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    [...] oldest working phone number in Manhattan is for the iconic, soon-to-be-razed Pennsylvania Hotel.  Glenn Miller immortalized [...]

  5. DJC Says:

    Well I’m a fan as is a friend of mine. Despite it’s need for renovation, you can still glimpse the grand past. Stayed there on my first visit from the UK.

  6. Andrew David Baron Says:

    I never knew that is what the song meant. heh. You learn something new everyday.

    RANDOM BTW Note: I was on the grounds at St. John The Divine Cathedral and was looking for the mysterious bird that wakes me up every freakin’ morning. Didn’t see it, but I did a google search for this mysterious bird and your post from a few years ago popped up. What a specimen of a peacock. Wow! Albino! Thanks for revealing and solving this mystery that has been bugging me for almost a year and a half now. :D

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks…Good to know that peacock is still around!

  8. New York's most famous telephone number still works | Metropolitan Walker Says:

    [...] folks at Ephemeral New York think it might be the oldest working number in the city, but it probably won’t be working all [...]

  9. Michelle... Says:

    New Yorkers should be very wary of Vornado Realty…just take a look at the giant hole they left us here in Boston http://www.universalhub.com/node/28273

  10. Buzzbaybear Says:

    That would be PE6-5000, not PA6-5000. The Bell System used the first 2 letters of the word and did not adhere to anyone else’s abbreviations. And FYI prior to the 1930s telephone numbers used 3 letters and 4 numbers (for instance PEN 5000) either way Hotel Pennsylvania is 736-5000

  11. aspicco Says:

    well here is is Feb 2013 and the Hotel PA is still standing… went to a conference there over the summer… so far so good…

  12. wallyhorse Says:

    Well we are now in the second half of 2014 and not only is the Hotel Pennsylvania (originally Statler Hilton) still up, It probably won’t be coming down anytime soon.

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