What was the NYPD phone number before 911?

Before July 1968, if you had an urgent situation to report, you actually had to dial the NYPD’s seven-digit main number: 440-1234.

That all changed when the police department adopted the 911 system. Developed by the FCC and AT&T in the mid-1960s, New York was the first city to implement it, for police calls only.


It was a big success, increasing daily calls to central command from 12,000 to 17,000, cutting down on street crime, and leading to more police cars being dispatched, according to a March 1970 New York Times piece.

As this New York Post ad from December 2, 1970 shows, two years after the police began using 911, the fire department and EMTs adopted it too.

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8 Responses to “What was the NYPD phone number before 911?”

  1. Frank Says:

    At some point, perhaps prior to 440-1234, the number to reach the PD was SPring-7-3100. Do you have any information on that number (when it was instituted, for how long etc)?


  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I didn’t know about that number; the number I have comes from a NYT article announcing the switch to 911. I’ll look into it though.

  3. Frank Says:


  4. r185 Says:

    Yes. My father was a cop up to ’71 and even the police magazine was called “Spring 3100”

    • October East Says:

      And still is! I work for the graphic arts company that does layout on Spring 3100 today, in 2016. And until now I had no idea what the title signified. Thank you!

  5. velvethead Says:

    This link is for a 1932 movie called Manhattan Tower. It uses the brand new ESB as a back drop to a rather entertaining movie. Not to give the ending away, but when the police need to be called, the character actor says, “Operator, give me Spring 3100”

  6. velvethead Says:

    Oh, look! the whole movie comes up!

  7. Jim Geiser Says:

    My Dad, Grandfather, 2 Great-Uncles, a Great-Aunt were all NYPD and though only Dad was in the NYPD when the change to 911 was made, I used it on one very scary day. I called the Police on my Dad. I was home sick, and Dad had left. I heard him depart. But I never heard him come back in the house. Scariest 15-20 minutes of my life.

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