Posts Tagged ‘two-letter phone exchanges’

A mystery phone exchange on an East Village sign

April 8, 2019

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.

An old Brooklyn phone exchange comes into view

May 16, 2016

Hidden behind the shrubs in front of a residence on West 12th Street is this small weathered sign for a fence company—complete with an original vintage phone exchange!

Cloverdalesign2

Bucolic-sounding Cloverdale covered the Flatlands area of Brooklyn beginning in 1928. Like New York’s other two-letter neighborhood exchanges, it was officially replaced by seven digits in the 1960s.

JRMoyersonsadJ. R. Moyer Sons doesn’t appear to be in business on Utica Avenue in Flatlands anymore. The last Google-able trace of the company dates to the 1970s. I wonder how long the fence sign has been hanging there.

More hiding-in-plain sight vintage phone exchanges can still be found all over New York . . . if you look very carefully.

Two more obsolete East Side phone exchanges

May 2, 2013

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.

Gnomebakersad

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.

JUelevatoralarmphoneexchange

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.

Vintage phone exchange signs in Chelsea

April 22, 2012

You have to look down to the ground and inside doorways to find them, but references to New York’s old two-letter telephone prefix system still exist.

These signs are probably at least 50 years old, as the two-letter exchanges were phased out in the 1960s.

EXeter 2 existed in Queens, hence this sign on West 19th Street for the Marcato Elevator Company in Long Island City.

Kaufman Management Company still has its offices at 450 Seventh Avenue in Midtown. They no longer use the LOngacre exchange on signs or in advertising, but they could: their current phone number is the same as it is on this 19th Street plate.

This website is a great resource for looking up the history of the city’s old exhanges.

Two more old Manhattan phone exchanges

June 8, 2011

This first one was spotted on a building off Lafayette Street near Bond Street.

Strangely, it has the EM for Empire that indicated a Brooklyn or Queens phone number.

I guess the alarm company was located in one of these boroughs (kind of scary if you were stuck in the elevator, having to wait for someone to come rescue you from across the East River).

The Little Wolf Cabinet shop, launched in 1956, is still located in the East 80s, one of the last of German Yorkville’s old-school businesses.

RE is for Rector or Regent.