New York City telephone exchange chronologies after December 1930

This is one of a series of tables covering the post-1930 period, and if you have not already read the information on the master page of the set, you are advised to do so.

Each of the telephone directories issued in New York City, beginning in 1929 (which preceded the era covered by these tables), covered a single borough of the city. While the material can be merged, different borough data have different dates and I am attempting to make use of this information to provide the most precision possible in the tabulations given on this site. The procedure used here is to assume that if an exchange is mentioned in one directory but not in the next one issued, it is assumed to have been closed in the interval between the "corrected-to" dates of these two directories. Similarly, when an exchange is not mentioned in one directory but is present in the next one, it is assumed to have started in that interval.

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.

Since the A and Z lists cover the entire city, when they can be used a date can be determined more precisely than after those lists ceased to be included. As different boroughs' directories had different dates, a start and/or end date can be isolated to an interval between the dates of two directories that might not cover the same borough in this period. After the end of the inclusion of these lists, however, each exchange started or ended can only be given a start/end date based on the dates for its own borough. Because the B list is present in all the directories, and the others are not in many of them, a table has been produced for each borough based only on the B list for that borough. A separate city-wide table is supplied which only covers the era in the 1930s when at least the Z list appeared. (When the Z list was resumed in the 1950s, it included suburban exchanges and so the list covering this era is a part of the metropolitan area section of this site, rather than the New York City section.)

Each of these tables is provided in the same format. The tables will list the dates for each directory used in preparing the table, with the exchanges started and ended between any two directory dates given between the lines contining those dates. In the city-wide table, the borough will also be shown with the dates; both the cover date and the "corrected-to" dates are given.

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 (possibly qualified by "early," "late," or a month or season) 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.

As the city-wide table covering the early 1930s provides a more precise dating of the start/end of an exchange, when it is available, the links from other pages on the site will be to the city-wide table; otherwise it will be to the appropriate borough table.

When the start/end date determined for an exchange from one of the lists used in preparing a table differs from the date determined from another, this is indicated by the listing of the exchange in the table on the row for each appropriate date with a notation such as (A), (B), (Z), or (A/Z) as appropriate. Because not all directories have all the lists, to the left of each directory date given in the tables will be shown the letters A, B, and/or Z, as appropriate.

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 group of exchange names that is harder to track than the others is the exchanges that were used for services provided by the Telephone Company. These included the numbers used internally as office numbers (generally EXchange, though some in the later years were called EXeter; this is even more a source of confusion, as EXeter 2 was not an "official" exchange) and the "time" (MEridian 7) and "weather" (WEather 6) exchanges. As they were not used for subscribers' numbers, they never appeared in the B list (except in some years on the actual numbers of the business offices). Their inclusion on the early A and Z lists fluctuated from directory to directory, while the continued use of MEridian 7 exchange for time announcements (and, after it first appears, the WEather 6 exchange for weather announcements) can only be inferred from other places in the directory where these numbers appear (and which do not occur in every directory!) In the case of the EXchange exchanges, business offices were given numbers in those exchanges in 1931, but afterward became special "official" numbers in the regular exchanges (like "BEekman 3-Official 50"), which makes the B list useless for following them. The dates for these are, consequently, not certain. (MEridian 7, however, appears to have been used during the entire period covered by this set of tables, as I must assume its absence from some directories in the middle of that period does not indicate discontinuance and later resumption.)

City-wide chronology table
Chronology table for Manhattan
Chronology table for The Bronx
Chronology table for Brooklyn
Chronology table for Queens
Chronology table for Staten Island

Sign up for your own site

Last modified February 19, 2015.

free web web hosting