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photos by Lara Shipley

Death of the Area Code

September 10th, 2005 · No Comments

So I just replaced my moribund cell phone with a snazzy new one, requiring the ritual Re-entry of the Address Book. Most of the folks in there, unsurprisingly, live in New York or D.C.—the two cities in which I’ve spent the last seven years. But I noticed that the area codes on folks’ phone numbers were far more varied than the addresses of their owners: New York area codes were as likely to belong to D.C. friends who’d gone to school in the city as people who’re still there, and the numbers in general were much more likely to reveal where somone had gone to college (or, for some of the younger ones who had cell phones in utero, where they grew up) than where the currently live. Since most people in my age cohort are using cell phones as their primary (if not only) numbers, and nobody wants to have to circulate a new number just because they’ve moved—something folks in their 20s and early 30s do a fair amount of—an old number sticks through many different locations. So, at least within that age cohort, it’s pretty much a crapshoot what area code your neighbor’s going to have. Instead, the number tells you where someone came from—or, at any rate, what place they want to identify themselves with. I kept my 917 number in part to avoid the hassle of disseminating a new number, but also in part to keep a link to Manhattan. I imagine someone who came here to work on the hill might be more likely to get a 202 number, the better to embrace their new D.C.-ness.

Tags: Tech and Tech Policy