More old Manhattan phone exchanges

LE is easy enough to figure out without the sign explaining it.

This one is from a building on Union Square. But what’s the WY for? Of course, I love that the sign survives, but it’s a little puzzling why they haven’t updated the phone number.

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9 Responses to “More old Manhattan phone exchanges”

  1. Ted Says:

    LE was also for Lehigh, my mother’s telephone was Lehigh4-xxxx. I remember PL4 (Plaza 4) and TR7 (Trafalgar7) from when I was little (and I’m not that old!)

  2. David McGreevy Says:

    Is there a listing of old phone exchanges somewhere? i would love to look up my East Village neighborhood.

  3. LP Says:

    Here is a database of exchanges. The WY stands for 99- like on the keypad of your phone! The recommended phrases for WY or 99 were WYandotte, WYndown and WYman.

  4. Nina Haritos Says:

    Here’s another.
    WA 9 was my grandmother’s old telephone exchange in Chelsea. Stood for WAtkins.

  5. Bruce R. Gilson Says:

    WYandotte was what they used in NYC. Strange in Manhattan though. It was a Bronx exchange.

  6. Robin Kegley Says:


    I’m 55 y.o. and native– remember distrinctly that WY was also “WYoming” exchange in Manhattan.

    Also, here are a few from I remember off the top that aren’t included. On a rainy day I might remember 99% of the rest– (all Manhattan)

    AL = Algonquin CI 5= Circle CO = Columbus LO = Longacre

  7. David Nereson Says:

    I found a 1957 menu for Jack Dempsey’s restaurant at 1619 Broadway (around 50th St.) The phone numbers have exchanges of CI and CO (Circle and Columbus). I had an aunt in the Bronx whose number started with UN (University) and one in Queens with RA (Ravenswood). PE of course was Pennsylvania, as in PEnnsylvania 6-5000, which was the reservation line for the Pennsylvania Hotel. GR was Gramercy.
    But yes, a complete list would be great.

  8. calem romasco Says:

    In Brooklyn CL = cloverhill “back in the day”. I was happy to discover the meaning of AL here as it is something i have wondered about since being a kid growing up in lower manhattan on VanDam street. The house was an old federal brick house (complete with ammunition cellar and a cold cellar), I had found an old sign used to rent the house out in the past that had the same phone number we had on it-beginning in AL, thank you for putting an old mystery to rest.

  9. Yona Zeldis McDonough Says:

    Does anyone know what the exchange would have been for the Upper East Side in Manhattan? Park Avenue in the 80s…

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