U.S. News

Manhattan mobile misery: coveted 212 area code becomes rarer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The looming arrival of a new Manhattan area code has triggered waves of dismay and anger online, while owners of the coveted original 212 telephone prefix swelled with pride on Thursday.

A man uses his phone while riding the subway in New York, U.S., August 24, 2016. Picture taken August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The proliferation of mobile phones in the most populous U.S. city prompted the New York Public Service Commission to say it will add the area code 332 in 2017, years after 646 and 917 joined the grande dame of Manhattan area codes, 212.

The new 332 code will become active on June 10. Wednesday’s announcement prompted outrage on Twitter from potential Manhattan phone owners, many of whom were worried they will miss out on the status that comes with a 212 area code.

“I just got an alert that the area code ‘332’ is being added to the ‘212, 646, 917’ area. Eww,” tweeted Avee‏ @lilmissave.

Jane Dystel, a Manhattan literary agent whose work and home phone numbers for four decades have started with 212, described the area code as part of her identity.

“It says ‘New York’,” Dystel said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “It signifies that you have staying power.”

Pride of 212 ownership as a symbol of longtime city residency is so pervasive it inspired an entire episode of the hit television comedy “Seinfeld.” In New York City nightclubs, DJs sometimes call out “If you’re from the 212, please stand up!”

Attorney Karen Byrnes, 42, transferred her 212 childhood landline number to her cellphone more than a decade ago. Her determination to keep a 212 area code might seem foreign to millennials who rarely notice the numbers they save in their mobile devices.

“The 212 area code is special to me, but younger people have no idea how great having a 212 phone number is,” Byrnes said.

“It’s old-school Manhattan,” she said.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan Oatis