Philadelphia-born, Chicago-based designer Mike McQuade initiated the ongoing Area Code Project — a series of posters celebrating various area codes. Thanks to Ludacris for introducing this topic in a most appropriately cheesy way!
The project’s About page discusses the importance of area codes, and the nuanced meanings that are embedded in them. It’s interesting to me that what was once firmly rooted in the present can now be a marker of one’s past. When we first moved to Cincinnati, Michael was an 808 and I was a 617. In fact, I only changed my cell phone to a local number because our doorbell calls my phone, and it would be silly for that to be a long-distance call [it’s really strange to be able to answer the door when I’m not at home, but that’s another story].
According to McQuade, when area codes were added to phone numbers after WWII, larger cities got lower digits so that those numbers were faster to dial on rotary phones. NYC’s 212 was a really quick dial. Nowadays, you’re more likely to end up with 347 or 646 as your area code, which makes 212 a hot commodity in Manhattan. You can buy a 212 phone number [also available wholesale]. No shit!
607 is the area code for hippy-dippy Ithaca, where I spent four glorious years.
I lived in the Bay Area for a couple of years, where San Francisco’s 415 seemed to be the desirable area code. I rather preferred the street cred of my more humble 510, as I lived in Oakland.
313 is Detroit. I spent two years in Bloomfield Hills with its posh, suburban 248 area code.
You know who else had a 248 area code? 8 Mile‘s Papa Doc, who got outed as a rich kid by Rabbit during their final battle. If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, start around the one-minute mark.
“I know something about you. You went to Cranbrook; that’s a private school.” Heh!