Old phone exchange signs cannot hide

Two-letter telephone exchanges offer a glimpse into pre-1960s Gotham, and it’s always a treat to uncover new ones.

The Regent Sign Company prefix was spotted on a storefront on West Eighth Street currently undergoing renovation. AL?









If you needed to enter this old loft building in SoHo back in the day, you’d call WO 6-1048. I wonder if anyone still answers the phone at the P & G Elevator Company.


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7 Responses to “Old phone exchange signs cannot hide”

  1. Heather Says:

    There is a whole flickr group of old telephone exchange signs (NYC and elsewhere) here.

  2. OmaK Says:

    I grew up on Bleecker St. between McDougal and Sullivan in the 50s and 60s AL4 was the local exchange. AL stood for Algonquin.

  3. Josie Says:

    AL was for Algonquin. I also remember GR which was for Gramercy.

  4. Mary Says:

    I grew up with a “SP7” number and hated it. I always wanted to be a “GR” or an “OR” like my friends. But when I was old enough to date, my first boy friend started working for the Phone Company (that was what it was called back then) during the transition to all numbers and he told me that was pretty cool because my number turned out to be 777-7… . I felt sort of special after that.

  5. Donna Says:

    I grew up in NYC downtown in the 1960s. Our phone number began with GR7 which was GRAMERCY 7. I don’t know why. We weren’t anywhere near the affluent Gramercy Park area. A bigger mystery is the OREGON exchange (OR4, OR7, etc.) Does anyone know how these exchange names were chosen?

  6. Kaz Says:

    I’ve always wondered how the names were chosen. When I was a child in the early 1970’s, I remember my grandparents having a MAyfair exchange – and never was able to figure out how it was arrived at. I did find an interesting site with information from 1955. http://www.ourwebhome.com/TENP/Recommended.html

  7. V Says:

    I used to own the house at 12 Polhemus Place in Brooklyn. In the front second floor a bedroom there was a small metal sign with the phone number for the house. It was “12”. The original owners of the house must have been early adopters. As an aside we bought the house for $33,500 in the mid-sixties. Park Slope was not a good neighborhood then.

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