Two more obsolete East Side phone exchanges

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.


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.


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.

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14 Responses to “Two more obsolete East Side phone exchanges”

  1. Marla Smith Says:

    My mother still gives her East 72nd street phone number as RE4- 5……

    Marla S. Smith Sent from my iPad

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I think we should bring them back! They have character.

  3. wendy Says:

    I still remember the radio and TV jingles and the phone numbers with the phone exchanges. I just missed party lines in NY.

  4. Mitch P Says:

    I’m surprised that, in 1973, they were still using an old NYC postal zone (“21”) and not a zip code (“10021”).

  5. Ellen Levitt Says:

    BU4-8029…that was my phone number when I was a little kid. It was in Flatbush.

  6. Deirdre Says:

    First home phone number on West Broadway started GR3, which we thought was for Greenwich. My parents shop phone on Spring St. started CA6, for Canal. The second home phone in the Coogan building in the seventies was MU9-9057, for Murray Hill. I miss those hints as to where one is dialing.

  7. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    It’s funny how everyone can remember their childhood phone number….
    I love the hints of geography that those two-letter exchanges offer. They reinforce the idea of a neighborhood. Today we’re just a jumbled collection of 212s, 646s, and 347s!

  8. TelcoGuy Says:

    Deirde, your first home’s exchange was GRamercy 3.

  9. therealguyfaux Says:

    I remember back to my childhood during the Colonial days, when all of NYC was 212 (actually, direct-dial long distance came in in the 1950’s), sometimes non-adjoining areas had the same lead two letters but a different word– I lived in LIC and had a phone number, STillwell 4-xxxx, while some people I knew in Brooklyn whose number led with ST were STerling X-xxxx. But what amazed me was that some people in The Bronx had an exchange that led with TT and had no word– one would think TUdor or TUrnbridge or something could have been thought up; apparently TUdor may have given the impression of being in the East 40’s and hence unsuitable, but one labors in vain to figure why, for example, TUberose 5, a beautiful flower, could not have been used.

  10. Bobby Costa Says:

    RE, Also stood for Rector, now obsolete

  11. petey Says:

    our old phone number was RE 7 –

  12. Ilene Says:

    My old phone #, in Sheepshead Bay, was DE 2-

  13. Gary Wright Says:

    Regency Hotel is on 61st St & Park Ave

  14. Gnome Bakers: Unusual Bread and Rolls in New York City | The Drunk Gnome Says:

    […] to to Ephemeral New York, this ad was part of a 1973 New York Mets […]

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