New York City telephone exchange chronology after December 1930

I have had the good fortune to be able to examine a lot of microfilms of old directories, spaced closely enough in time to be able to follow the start and end dates of many exchanges in New York City. (So far, only the borough of Manhattan, but I hope to expand this chart.) With this chart, the start and end dates of many exchanges can be determined to within approximately six months for many exchanges.

Each directory (except for some of the earliest in this set) can be characterized by two dates: the cover date, which may be a month like "May 1948," a two-season range like "Fall-Winter 1946," or a phrase such as "1939 issue" (understood as meaning the start of the named year), and the "corrected-to" date, shown on the inside as a precise date, usually about two months prior to the cover date. The "corrected-to" date is likely to be a more accurate characterization, but I have presented both in this chart.

Between each pair of consecutive directories, I have assigned a short form for the interval, which is the way this interval is represented in the alphabetic listing of New York City telephone exchanges and page on assignment of prefixes to areas around New York City. This will be a year or a pair of years. Any reference to these short forms on those pages should be understood as referring to the interval given by those two directory dates.

For each interval, two sets of exchanges will be listed, assuming neither is empty: the exchanges started in the interval, and the exchanges ended in the interval. The first will include all exchanges not found in the earlier directory listing, but added in the later one; the second group will include all exchanges present in the earlier listing, but absent in the later one.

During the World War II years, apparently no changes in exchange names were made. Directory dates, when I have them, are still given, but there is no need to assign a symbol to the inter-directory intervals, because no links to them from the alphabetic listing or anywhere else are needed.

One thing that causes some difficulty in assigning start/end dates (particularly end dates) is a certain inconsistency among the data in the directories. The earliest directories listed here had three different lists of exchanges:

  1. A complete alphabetical list of all exchanges in the city, here referred to as the A list,
  2. A list of all exchanges in the borough for which the directory was issued, with the number of the business office serving the exchange, and the name of the business office manager, here referred to as the B list, and
  3. Another list of all exchanges in the city, with the zone (for billing purposes) in which the exchange was located, here referred to as the Z list.

It is not clear what the need for the A list is since all the information in that list is also found in the Z list. The A list continued for only a short time; the last directory in which it appeared was the "Winter 1931-1932" directory. The B and Z lists continue together for a short time, but later, only the B list is found, while still later, the Z list resumes, though for a few years in the early 1950s, the Z list does not show all the central office numbers in those exchanges having multiple numbers for a name. The problem with having these three different lists is that they do not all agree in every directory; an exchange might be found in one of the lists and not in another. Since the end date is determined by considering the last directory with an exchange and the first directory without it, the use of a different list will give a different end date. Because the B list is present in all the directories, and the others are not in many of them, the main reference here will be to the end date figured from the B lists. If another date is indicated by considering the A and/or Z lists, the exchange will be listed in the row for that date with a notation (A), (Z), or (A/Z) as appropriate. Because not all directories have all the lists, to the left of the directory date will be shown the letters A, B, and/or Z, as appropriate.
Interval (short form) Cover date "Corrected-to" date
B, Z Summer 1934 June 26, 1934
Late 1934 Started: PResident 4
Ended: DEcatur 2, HAddingway 3
B, Z Winter 1934-1935 January 2, 1935
Early 1935 Started: (None)
Ended: HUguenot 4 (See Note 1), LAfayette 3 (See Note 1)
B (See Note 2), Z Summer 1935 late June or early July, 1935 (See Note 2)
Late 1935 Started: (None)
Ended: CLoverdale 6 (See Note 1)
B, Z Winter 1935-1936 January 2, 1936
Early 1936 Started: ESplanade 7, MIchigan 2 (See Note 3)
Ended: MIdwood 8
B, Z Summer 1936 July 2, 1936
Late 1936 Started: CLoverdale 8
Ended: (None)
B, Z Winter 1936-1937 January 4, 1937
  Directories to be investigated
B August 1940 July 3, 1940
Late 1940 Started: (None)
Ended: HAvemeyer 8, MIchigan 2 (See Note 4), MInnesota 9
B February 1941 January 8, 1941
  (No changes)
B August 1941 July 10, 1941
  (No changes)
B February 1942 January 8, 1942
  (No changes)
B August 1942 July 9, 1942
  (No changes)
B February 1943 January 5, 1943
  (No changes)
B Summer-Fall 1943 July 6, 1943
  (No changes)
B Winter-Spring 1944 January 10, 1944
  (No changes)
B Fall-Winter 1944 July 18, 1944
  (No changes)
B Spring-Summer 1945 January 16, 1945
  (No changes)
B Fall-Winter 1945 July 17, 1945
Late 1945 Started: GEdney 4, 5, 8, 9, TAylor 7
Ended: (None)
B Spring-Summer 1946 January 11, 1946
Early 1946 Started: ESplanade 3, NIghtingale 5
Ended: (None)
B Fall-Winter 1946 July 10, 1946
Late 1946 Started: GEdney 6, NIghtingale 6
Ended: SKidmore 4 (See Note 5)
B Spring-Summer 1947 January 22, 1947
1947 Started: CLoverdale 2, 6, DIckens 5, EVergreen 5, GLenmore 3, HYacinth 2, NIghtingale 8, 9, PResident 8, TErrace 6, ULster 3, 5, 6, 7, 9
Ended: CUmberland 6, DEwey 6, FOxcroft 9, JEfferson 3, MAnsfield 6, WIndsor 5, 6, 8, 9
B December 1947 October 27, 1947
Early 1948 Started: CLoverdale 9, EVergreen 3, HYacinth 4, 8
Ended: (None)
B August 1948 May 27, 1948
Mid-1948 Started: HYacinth 7, STerling 9, ULster 2
Ended: APplegate 6
B February 1949 November 25, 1948
Early 1949 Started: EVergreen 6, HYacinth 3, ULster 4
Ended: (None)
B September 1949 July 5, 1949
Late 1949 Started: HYacinth 6
Ended: (None)
B March 1950 January 11, 1950

NOTE 1: The copy of the Brooklyn directory dated "Summer 1935" that was microfilmed for the film I used as a reference was defective. In particular, the page containing the "corrected-to" date was missing (see Note 2 below), as well as the page containing the B list. However, in order to build this table, the individual subscriber listings were consulted, and all telephones listed with LAfayette 3 and HUguenot 4 exchanges in the Winter 1934-1935 issue appear to have been changed: the former to PResident 3 or 4 exchanges, the latter to the SOuth 8 exchange. Since no telephones in these exchanges appeared to remain, it is assumed that they were discontinued in the interval between January 2, 1935 (the "corrected-to" date of the Winter 1934-1935 issue) and June or July, 1935 (the assumed "corrected-to" date of the Summer 1935 issue). By contrast, the Summer 1935 issue did contain telephones in the CLoverdale 6 exchange which had been changed by the Winter 1935-1936 issue to the SHore Road 5 exchange, so it must be assumed that the discontinuance of this exchange was between June or July, 1935 (the assumed "corrected-to" date of the Summer 1935 issue) and January 2, 1936 (the "corrected-to" date of the Winter 1935- 1936 issue)

NOTE 2: As stated in Note 1, the copy of the Brooklyn directory dated "Summer 1935" that was microfilmed for the film I used as a reference was defective. Based on the "corrected-to" dates of the directories in the previous and subsequent years, a date in the last week in June or the first week in July is likely, however.

NOTE 3: The first appearance of the MIchigan 2 exchange in the Brooklyn B list was in the Summer 1936 issue. However, this must be considered not as the start of the MIchigan 2 exchange, but as the start of its use in Brooklyn; prior to that it was a purely Queens exchange.

NOTE 4: The last appearance of the Havemeyer 8 and MIchigan 2 exchanges in the Brooklyn B list was in the August 1940 issue. However, this must be considered not as the end of these exchanges, but as the end of their use in Brooklyn; they continued as purely Queens exchanges.

NOTE 5: The B list that was used as a source for this table implied that the SKidmore 4 exchange was discontinued in the 1947-1948 period; however all SKidmore 4 telephones listed in the Fall-Winter 1946 directory were changed to CLoverdale 7 numbers by the Spring-Summer 1947 directory, implying that the changes should be given as taking place in the late 1946 period. The earlier date will be shown because it appears to be the correct end date for these exchanges, despite the entries in the B list.

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Last modified February 19, 2015.

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