Posts Tagged ‘old phone exchanges’

A Turtle Bay lamp store sign reemerges again

June 13, 2013

For 35 years, Louis Mattia operated an antique lamp and chandelier shop at 980 Second Avenue in the east 50s.

Louismattasign

He closed his store in 1995, and this wonderful old sign (PL for Plaza!) would come in and out of view, as each subsequent store that replaced it went out of business.

Now that a frame shop here has recently gone under, the ghostly old-school sign stands once again. I wonder how long it lasts before it’s covered up.

Two more obsolete East Side phone exchanges

May 2, 2013

I love this ad for Gnome Bakers, especially the tagline. How unusual could their bread and rolls have been? It comes from a 1973 New York Mets program.

Gnomebakersad

The best part is the old RE phone exchange, assigned to phone numbers from a part of the Upper East Side starting in 1930. It stood for Regent—perhaps the name of a landmark hotel or theater nearby?

A good place to look for old phone exchange signs around the city is near service elevators. This one was spotted in east midtown around 35th Street.

JUelevatoralarmphoneexchange

JU is either for Judson, in Manhattan, or Juniper, given to a stretch of Queens.

If we knew the name of the elevator company, we could figure out which one. But alas, no trace of the name could be found.

Vintage store signs of a vanishing Italian enclave

March 2, 2013

Like its counterparts in the South Village, Carroll Gardens, and the North Bronx, the long-established Italian neighborhood in East Williamsburg, with its old-school shops and storefronts, is shrinking.

Eastwburgsignsporkstore

So before Graham Avenue (renamed “Via Vespucci” after the Italian explorer) is swarmed by wine bars and doggy day care centers, take a moment to appreciate the iconic signs stretching from Ainslie Street to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Eastwburgsignscafecapri

Looking at the Emily’s Pork Store sign makes me hungry. I wish I’d stopped in for some fresh mozzarella. And Caffe Capri! I love the mermaid crest on the left. This is what the sign looks like without the last bit cut off (it reads pastry, expresso, cappuccino).

Eastwburgsignseconowash

Grande Monuments is a wonderful sign on its own. But there’s a bonus on the side of the building: another sign with the old two-letter phone exchange.

Eastwburgsignsmonuments

The ST is probably an abbreviation for nearby Stagg Street.

Eastwburgsignsmonumentsphone

An old phone exchange hiding in the Village

December 12, 2012

I’ve walked by entrance to Gene’s restaurant on 11th Street and Sixth Avenue many, many times and just recently noticed the painted window sign sporting the pre-1960s OR phone exchange.

OR was for Orchard, later Oregon, according to this old phone exchange chart.

Genesrestaurantsign2

Gene’s is serious old-timey Village French-Italian, open since 1919. Their website includes a link to a 1958 Village Voice review featuring fantastic vintage ads for other restaurants and cafes of the era, such as El Charro and Chumley’s.

Vintage phone exchange signs in Chelsea

April 22, 2012

You have to look down to the ground and inside doorways to find them, but references to New York’s old two-letter telephone prefix system still exist.

These signs are probably at least 50 years old, as the two-letter exchanges were phased out in the 1960s.

EXeter 2 existed in Queens, hence this sign on West 19th Street for the Marcato Elevator Company in Long Island City.

Kaufman Management Company still has its offices at 450 Seventh Avenue in Midtown. They no longer use the LOngacre exchange on signs or in advertising, but they could: their current phone number is the same as it is on this 19th Street plate.

This website is a great resource for looking up the history of the city’s old exhanges.

More old phone exchanges hiding in plain sight

December 15, 2011

This chain link fence sign was spotted near Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. The NI exchange is for a Brooklyn name: Nightingale.

MU is Murray Hill—which makes sense, since this plaque was found laying low on the side of a building in the East 40s.

There’s more than one in Manhattan; the Abramson Brothers have quite a hand in the real estate world.

Old phone exchanges spotted around the city

August 29, 2010

It’s a little worrisome that so many elevator alarm bells list a phone number with a pre-1960s exchange. Will someone really answer the call?

Exeter was a Long Island City exchange—from a warehouse building in Chelsea.

I couldn’t find any listing for Super B Drug, but luckily this colorful sign survives on Canal Street near Broadway. The CA exchange—CAnal, of course.

Old signs with old phone exchanges

July 1, 2010

I don’t know how long B. & H. Electric has been in Prospect Heights, but the NE phone exchange came into use in 1930, when the New York Telephone Company greatly expanded its dialing system.

SA also came into existence in 1930; it covered West Harlem. This rusty relic, advertising another electric company, is still hanging on outside an apartment building in the West 150s.

SA stood for Sacramento. But why Sacramento? 

For those perplexed by these and other mysteries of old letter phone prefixes, here’s an exhaustive website that can shed a little light.

More old signs with old phone exchanges

May 18, 2010

Raskin’s Fish Market, on Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, looks like a remnant of another era, thanks to the old-timey sign and phone exchange.

That’s SL for Slocum.

But this kosher fish store, open since 1961, is no throwback—they even have their own Facebook page.

Abramson Brothers is a real-estate management company with properties across Manhattan.

This plaque is affixed to a handsome building at 333 West 52nd Street.

MU—for Murray Hill, of course!

Hiding in plain sight old phone exchanges

April 5, 2010

It’s a little unnerving that the who-to-call signs for elevator maintenance issues in many buildings are so old, their phone number starts with a two-letter exchange officially dropped in the 1960s. 

Like this one, with SU for Susquehanna. I wonder why that name was assigned to the Upper West Side?

Hopefully they’ve done more recent elevator inspections. . . .

This real estate company ad in midtown helpfully provides the full name of the exchange, ORegon.

If you look really hard, you can make out the exchange on this barely hanging on commercial real estate ad near Canal Street.

JU for Judson, the name of the 19th century church still standing on Washington Square South.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,428 other followers