A mystery phone exchange on an East Village sign

How long has Abetta Boiler & Welding Service been building and repairing the infrastructure of New York City?

At least since 1957, according to a listing in the Greater New York Industrial Directory.

And that makes sense, based on the old two-letter phone exchange that’s still on the company sign over a garage on East First Street in the East Village.

GR for Gramercy? Greenwich? It’s hard to know, as it’s been more than 50 years since the two-letter exchanges were phased out in favor of digits.

It’s getting harder to spot some of these old exchanges on signs and storefronts, but the Abetta sign stands as a reminder of what phone numbers used to look like in New York.

The artwork on the garage door is an appropriate ode to an old-school Manhattan business, too.

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12 Responses to “A mystery phone exchange on an East Village sign”

  1. Andrew Ross (@smackard) Says:

    What’s even weirder is that the sign is clearly recent based on the font (Arial) the phone number is set in.

  2. Punto Says:

    Gramercy, according to https://www.nydailynews.com/connection-telephone-exchanges-gave-line-neighborhood-article-1.752800

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Ah, Gramercy! I didn’t even notice the font, but interesting catch.

  4. Tilman Hill Says:

    Doesn’t the New York public library have old Manhattan telephone directories? They used to specify the exchange not just with the first two letters but—in smaller type—the rest of the exchange name. One could look up Abetta in, day, the 1960 directory and discover whether the phone number was in the Gramercy or the Greenwich exchange.

  5. Jerry M Says:

    Very interesting interior view with bonus.

  6. jerry m. Says:

    oops, please add this to my previous comment

  7. Barb Says:

    Yes, NYPL has NYC directories as does the NYC Municipal Archives.

  8. Roger_Paw Says:

    jerry m., thank you for linking to my Abetta Salsa video! What a nice surprise to see while looking through one of my favorite NYC blogs. 🙂

    Mykola, I happened upon this scene in 2011 but yes, it was reminiscent of the early LES days, wasn’t it?

  9. Chip Says:

    The telephone exchange is GRamercy 3

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