What did this old NYC phone exchange stand for?

You see these two-letter old phone exchanges around occasionally—often on old signs off the beaten path, even though New York City phased out the letter exchanges in the 1960s.

In the East 80s of Yorkville, I spotted a mysterious one: a parking garage sign with a phone number that begins with “TW.”

TW? It’s one I’d never seen before, and I can’t figure out what local landmark or old neighborhood lent its name to a phone exchange that could be as old as the 1920s.

Of course, the garage door company that used the number might have been located in any part of New York City. If anyone knows or wants to throw out a guess as to what TW stands for, I’d love to hear it!

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52 Responses to “What did this old NYC phone exchange stand for?”

  1. Rich W Says:

    Twining

  2. Kevin Foley-Littwll Says:

    I think it was “Twining”

  3. countrypaul Says:

    I seem to recall TW as “TWining.” According to Wikipedia, AT&T put out a list of recommended exchange names in 1955. “TW” names included “TWilight, TWinbrook, TWining, TWinoaks.”

    By the end of named exchanges, names were often arbitrary to extend their supply; they were given pronounceable words unrelated to geography. I grew up in New Rochelle, where post-WWII, NEw Rochelle 2, 3 and 6 were rapidly exhausted. The first newly added exchange was BEverly 5, a name with no hint of a connection to local history. “TWining” might have had a similar genesis.

    • Bob Says:

      The list was AT&T/Bell’s publication “Notes on Nationwide Dialing, 1955”.

      • John T Says:

        Sounds pretty random.
        My parent’s Brooklyn phone# from 1956 began with “RN”, which had no meaning, nor any link to the neighborhood of (old) Mill Basin. I have no idea why they didn’t use “RO” for the same 76 values, with a word like ROland, or ROmeo.

      • Maxine Says:

        We lived in Flatbush and our exchange was INgersol

    • Mike Giuseffi Says:

      When we moved to Yonkers in 1960 our exchange was Beverly 7. There was no tie-in to the neighborhood either. Funny, I can tell you my Grandmother’s number and Aunt’s number in the Bronx from those days but don’t ask me my brother or sisters number today-Its in my phone.

  4. Barbara D'Anna Says:

    TW Isn’t it Twining

  5. pontifikator Says:

    I remember a “Twining”, too!

  6. Bob Says:

    Twining-4 was a Queens (Flushing/Maspeth) exchange.

    See: ‘Ringing up some Queens telephone history: Our Neighborhood, The Way it Was’

    In 1959, the Fairview Avenue building in Ridgewood, with 10 dial offices, was serving 56,000 telephones and handling about 250,000 calls per day. The telephone company decided to expand the building in 1959 by adding a fourth story to the three-story structure. The “Empire 6” exchange was added in December of that year.

    The Ridgewood office was one of the first to handle direct dialing. By 1959, the following exchanges had been added to local phone service: “Evergreen 1,” “Evergreen 2,” “Evergreen 6,” “Glenmore 6,” “Hyacinth 1,” “Hyacinth 7,” “Twining 4” and “Vandyke 1.” Thirty-three operators handled “operator-assisted” calls.

    https://qns.com/story/2019/06/29/ringing-up-some-queens-telephone-history-our-neighborhood-the-way-it-was/

    • GhostBikeCollector Says:

      From the TEN Project:

      • GhostBikeCollector Says:

        “Both the 1957 and 1959 directories show a TWining 1 exchange, but the 1957 directory has it in a Queens zone, while the 1959 directory puts it in a different zone, located in Brooklyn. A communication from Anthony DeFabritus confirms that the exchange was in fact in use in Brooklyn in the 1960s. My suspicion is that the 1957 listing is another case of a prediction, and it was listed there in the same zone where all other TWining exchanges were located; the 1959 listing reflects actual fact.”

  7. Bob Says:

    718-894-6184 belongs to Tierney & Courtney Overhead Door Sales Co., Inc.

    “Tierney & Courtney Overhead Door Sales Co., Inc. was established in 1958 with the motto First In Quality ~~ First In Service and we thank all of our loyal Customers for thier (sic) patronage thoughout the years.

    “Tierney & Courtney is expert in the installation and repair of commercial and industrial garage doors and related products serving the business to business market.

    Industrial Buildings and Warehouses
    Office Buidlings (sic) and Malls
    Fire Departments
    Apartment Houses and Condominiums
    Super Structures and Stadiums
    Auto Dealerships and Service Stations
    Etc., Etc.

    Emergency Repairs
    New Installations and Retrofits
    Preventive Maintenance
    Service Contracts
    Electric Operators and Access Controls
    Specialty Projects

    Long Island Office – 355 Willis Avenue – Mineola, NY 11501
    Tel. 516-747-0447 Tel. 631-210-0032

    NY Office – 58-42 Maspeth Avenue – PO Box 780539 – Maspeth, NY 11378
    Tel. 718-894-6184 – Tel. 212-697-3530

    http://www.tcdoors.com/

  8. Bob Pigott Says:

    That was my exchange in Jackson Hts.! It’s Twining.

  9. Tony Towle Says:

    Twining is correct.

  10. Maxine Says:

    I think I remember “Twining” exchange.

  11. Leslie Says:

    When my grandparents lived in Forest Hill, their phone no started with TWining6

  12. Michael Leddy Says:

    A 1955 list of Bell-approved names has TWilight, TWinbrook, TWinoaks, and TWining. You can find the list at the Telephone EXchange Name Project:

    http://www.trbo.org/pub/tenp/TENproject.html

    There may be more details in their discussion pages.

    True confession: I “collect” exchange names (in screenshots) from movies. So I check that site often.

  13. Robert Ross Says:

    Twentieth police precinct? Bob Ross

    Get Outlook for iOS ________________________________

  14. Jack Friedman Says:

    Twining

  15. Jack Friedman Says:

    Twining

  16. Lisa Baxter Garber Says:

    This is a stretch, but – in Bergen County, NJ, Wyckoff and surrounding towns, our phone exchange was TWinbrook.

  17. Libby Cobrini Says:

    maybe it’s one of these 4 all but twinning came up as a place in NY.

    🙂

    >

  18. Susan Says:

    On UES we had Templeton. TW? Good question.

  19. Abe Goteiner Says:

    Our number in the South Bronx was DA (Dayton) 3-2168. In Manhattan UN 5-8955.

  20. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    When I lived on the Lower East Side in the 60s 70s 80s my phone was LF34314, never could find out what the LF meant. A phone clerk once shrugged and said, How about Left Foot? so that’s what I told people.

  21. rmhausman Says:

    I’m guessing Two Bridges.

  22. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks to everyone for the good memories and sleuthing. I was hoping Twining would be the name of a long-forgotten local landmark or business, but alas.

  23. countrypaul Says:

    To Mykola, I recall that for a brief time two meaningless letters were used where a name couldn’t be created. However, numbers for “LF” could have been created as “LE” and had numerous real words as exchange names. Trying to divine meaning for some anomalies at this late date is fascinating but also a bit like “Digging the Weans” (google it).

  24. Bob Mayer Says:

    Twining

  25. Mike Morris Says:

    Tewilliger?

  26. petey Says:

    well when i grew up here mostly we were REgent.
    why i still remember my first phone number: RE7-XXXX (X-ed out in case anyone has that number)
    an aunt of mine not too many blocks away actually had the famous BUtterfield prefix.

  27. petlover1948 Says:

    Mine was VI: Virginia. As a child, since I lived in Richmond Hill, Queens, NY; I thought that was related to Richmond, Virginia!!!

  28. Sarita Eisenstark Says:

    It’s a QUUENS, NY number.

    TWining 4-

    https://qns.com/story/2019/06/29/ringing-up-some-queens-telephone-history-our-neighborhood-the-way-it-was/

  29. Sarita Eisenstark Says:

    Go to TCDoors.com

    See phone number at bottom. TW4 became 894

  30. davidxsilverstone3522 Says:

    TW stands for TWINING. Among the other telephone names in New York way back when were Butterfield and Jamaica Estates where I grew up. The Subway line stop there was 169th Street. As I recall there was a large white enamel sign that read NO SPITTING.

    David Silverstone. PS: I get your Ephemeral New York notices every day. They are terrific. I forward many of them to a few close friends. They enjoy them immensely as I do.

    >

  31. Chip Says:

    TW4 is the TWining 4 exchange.

  32. Robert Says:

    TW- Twinning

    It was our number in Queens.

  33. Nick Pompenese Says:

  34. Bonnie Says:

    TW was my exchange in Forest Hills, Queens NY

  35. Maxine Says:

    Wasn’t TW Twining?

  36. Chuck Greenfield Says:

    I lived in Rego Park until 1967, and our telephone exchange was TW7. I definitely remember the TW was “Twining,” and now I’m trying to figure out if that was completely arbitrary or if it meant something?

  37. Lucy Says:

    I lived in Middle Village Queens and my phone # was a TW4 number. Not sure what the TW stood for.

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