By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Remember those days when you could identify a phone number by its area code?
Or when a local phone number was seven, not ten, digits?
Anyone recall those days when all of Western Washington was a single area code – and that was 206?
206 has been long gone from Tacoma – and we still proudly hold the 253, but be prepared for yet another number designation – welcome to the floating “overlay” area code of 564.
Some codes are tied to specific areas, 253 for Tacoma or 206 for Seattle for example, and some are for more widespread areas – like 509 for Central and Eastern Washington.
Area code 360 serves western Washington except for Seattle and Tacoma and includes the cities of Vancouver, Bellingham and Olympia.
You can thank the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) for our whole area code numbering system.
If you are an area code numbering system nerd, or if you need to look up or confirm an area code, you can see a nationwide map here.
For NANP-member countries, including Bermuda, Caribbean nations and US territories in the Western Hemispere, look here.
If you get a mystery call and want, at minimum to trace the location, you can look here for an area code look up.
To look up the area code of a region or city (only cities with a population of at least 20,000 are listed) look here.
The new 564 area code will be set up with new accounts, beginning with what has been the 360 area.
I don’t know about anyone else, but perhaps like every other aspect of life, I get accustomed to, even attached to, the numbers that, at first seemed so sterile.
As most locals know, and as you can see from bumper stickers and signs around town, we in Tacoma have taken a sense of identity, even pride in what many of us call “The 253”.
We in Tacoma in particular, but even many in Pierce County, are territorial about and take pride in things others may never notice – or may openly complain about.
From the weather to the traffic to the crazy and sometimes headline grabbing politics to mythical creatures from Sasquatch to UFOs, all these things make us who we are.
Many of us feel the same way about 253. It’s taken us a while, but 253 has become something like home to us.
Any other prefix, by definition, is outside, if not foreign to us.
As you might guess, we need more prefixes not only because of more people, but even more so because we have more phones.
East of the Cascades, one area code is still enough.
But as we all know, one area code is not enough for all of us on the west side.