Old phone exchanges: East Side edition

This one was spotted on an apartment building in Manhattan’s East teens. ST is for Stuyvesant; Peter Stuyvesant’s bouwerie occupied today’s East Village and Gramercy Park neighborhoods.


Hidden behind a contemporary banner is this swinging 1960s sign, for Frenchman, an air conditioner business on First Avenue and 19th Street.


OR for Orchard? Oregon? Both Manhattan exchanges spanned the East Side below midtown.

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9 Responses to “Old phone exchanges: East Side edition”

  1. oldeastsidr Says:

    Thanks for the Frenchmen sign. I was born and raised around the corner and passed this sign every day. Such signage was everywhere. If you get back to the area, take a look at the one-story buidling on the south side of 19th street, second building from the corner of 1st Avenue. It has “1885” sculpted on its peak. Originally a stable (before my time), it was a Chinese hand laundry in the 60s and then a variety of small businesses. The peak is what makes it still attractive.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    I will look for it; thanks for the tip. First Avenue in the teens and 20s is a strangely unchanged part of Manhattan in many ways. Lots of vintage store signs, and of course, Stuy Town and PCV dominating everything.

  3. MC Says:

    I just noticed today walking to work a fading sign on the side of a building on Kenmare btwn Bowery+Elizabeth for “J Eis and Son” with “Orchard 4-12308230129somenumbers” on the bottom and was wondering if it was an old phone exchange. Coincidential I saw this just a few hours later and confirmed that it was 🙂

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Oh, that’s a great faded ad. One of the best:


  5. Nabe News: October 14 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] Some old phone exchanges spotted downtown [Ephemeral NY] […]

  6. sparky Says:

    Probably Oriole, a popular exchange prefix.

  7. PizzaBagel Says:

    They referred to “ST” phone exchanges as “STuyvesant” in Manhattan? Not surprising. In Queens I had an “ST” number. (I still do, only now it’s “78.”) We called it “STillwell.” (As in the Stillwell Avenue of Brooklyn, perhaps?) Hey, you can call it “PTerodactyl.” It’s just a mnemonic, and it would still work.

  8. Bob Goodman Says:

    OR was Oregon. Our phone number until 1978 was OR4-2032 E.19th St.

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