Area codes 212, 646, and 332 are area codes in the North American Numbering Plan for most of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. By area, it is one of the smallest numbering plan areas (NPAs). These area codes are overlaid by area code 917, which covers the entirety of New York City.
On February 1, 1984, in response to a request from New York Telephone, the New York Public Service Commission voted to divide New York City into two numbering plan areas. Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island received the new area code 718, while numbering plan area 212 was reduced to Manhattan and the Bronx. Amid protests from local officials and state lawmakers, the commission was persuaded by New York Telephone's reasoning that a new area code was needed to "prevent an impending exhaustion of telephone numbers."
New York Telephone gave some 718 telephone numbers a head start for service by several days. Despite state lawmakers for the outer boroughs threatening legislation to stop the split, 718 entered service as scheduled on September 1, 1984. Permissive dialing of 212 telephone numbers continued across New York City until January 1, 1985, when the use of 718 became mandatory across the outer boroughs.
On July 1, 1992, the 718 territory was expanded to include the Bronx and the Marble Hill neighborhood of Manhattan (see below), while the rest of Manhattan remained in 212. Permissive dialing of 212 continued across the Bronx until May 16, 1993, during which either 212 or 718 could be used; after that date, 718 had to used for calls to the Bronx from everywhere outside the borough except the three boroughs that originally had the 718 code, and Bronx residents calling Manhattan had to dial 212. On September 25, 1993, callers from the Bronx no longer had to dial 718 to reach Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
Area code 646 overlaid area code 212 in Manhattan on July 1, 1999, when available 917 mobile numbers were becoming scarce.
In November 2015, area code 332 was assigned as an additional overlay area code for Manhattan's numbering plan area 212 and 646, the fourth serving the area and the seventh serving New York City. Area code 332 became active on June 10, 2017, as area code 212 was expected to run out of numbers in the third quarter of 2017, and 646 is expected to run out of numbers by 2018. This effectively allocates 23.4 million numbers to a borough of 1.6 million people.
One Manhattan neighborhood, Marble Hill, is part of the 718/347/929 codes, rather than the 212/646/332 area codes.
Marble Hill, although officially a part of the Borough of Manhattan to this day, was geographically severed from Manhattan Island by the construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal in 1895. It was physically connected to the Bronx in 1914 when the by-passed segment of the Harlem River was filled in. When the Bronx shifted to 718 in 1992, Marble Hill residents fought to stay in 212, but lost. Marble Hill's trunk is wired into the Bronx line, and it would have been too expensive for New York Telephone to rewire it.
A business with a 212 area code is often perceived as having stability and roots in Manhattan, particularly if a number has been in service for many decades. One example is PEnnsylvania 6-5000 (today 212-736-5000), the number for the Hotel Pennsylvania in Midtown. The hotel claims that it is the oldest continuously used number in New York City. This claim is in dispute, but PEnnsylvania 6-5000 did appear in a 1940 Glenn Miller Orchestra song title.
The scarcity of available telephone numbers in area code 212, combined with it being the city's original area code, result in the 212 area code having a prestigious cachet in the eyes of some Manhattan residents. Businesses now sell phone numbers with 212 area codes, though it is unclear whether the customer or the phone company is the legal owner of a phone number.
In August 2010, AT&T reported that there are no new numbers available in the 212 area code. Several years before then, new landlines in Manhattan started to be assigned numbers in 917 (or 646). In addition, the Inwood section in far northern Manhattan is overlaid with area code 347, which also began as a cell phone area code. Those who now get a 212 area code now must rely on luck of the draw when they establish their service or on websites where they can purchase the highly coveted area code to port to their landline or cellphone service.
|New York area codes: 212/332/646, 315/680, 347/718/929, 516, 518/838, 585, 607, 631/934, 716, 845, 914, 917|
|West: 201/551||area code 212/332/646 overlaid by 917||East: 347/718/929/917|
|New Jersey area codes: 201/551, 609, 732/848, 856, 862/973, 908|