status symbols

Non–New Yorkers Could Potentially Dilute the ‘212’ Brand

A broken and inoperable mobile phone lays on the ground
Photo: Peer Grimm/dpa/Corbis

212 numbers are the new rent-controlled apartments,” said a status-obsessed New Yorker once, but we might as well all give up on ever achieving area-code nirvana. A new plan “to delink numbers from geography,” led by Internet phone service Vonage, is gaining support and could allow some teenager from Cleveland to pretend he’s sitting high in the Chrysler Building. The FCC is seriously considering letting Vonage directly select vacant numbers, of which there are not many, Bloomberg notes: “About 19 percent of numbers in the 212 area code were available in 2009, among the lowest percentages in the U.S.”

Those lucky enough to have the legacy area code are preemptively shrugging off its diminishing importance. “I think the cachet is largely gone,” said Engadget founder Peter Rojas. “I have a 212 cell number and it’s been a while since anyone was impressed with that.” It’s not different — it’s the same, just changed.

Non–New Yorkers Might Get ‘212’ Numbers