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New York City Sights – The Hotel Pennsylvania

By Brian | May 30, 2009 | Share on Facebook

As promised last week, here’s a look at what is directly across the street from Madison Square Garden:


(Excuse me while I channel James Lileks).

It’s the Hotel Pennsylvania, who’s famous phone number is (212) 736-5000. Why is that a famous phone number? Well, until the late 1960s, phone numbers were referred to in the 2L-5D format, where the first two numbers were expressed as letters, using the letters that appear above each number on a telephone keypad (yes, kids, they served a purpose before text messaging). If you check your phones, you’ll see that “73″ translates into “PE,” making this phone number “Pennsylvania, 6-5000″ immortalized in song by the one and only, Glenn Miller, who frequently performed in the hotel’s Cafe Rouge ballroom:

It’s also, according to Wikipedia, the oldest continuing phone number in New York City.

My wife and I had occasion to stay in the fabled Hotel Pennsylvania once, when she had a two-day professional conference to attend in New York. The room was, well, what you’d expect from an old and historic hotel, I guess. It was old. Very old. And it showed it. A lot. Bottom line: you’re much better off looking at the Hotel Pennsylvania from the outside or from the lobby.

Topics: New York, New York | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “New York City Sights – The Hotel Pennsylvania”

  1. Jeff Porten says at June 6th, 2009 at 1:57 am :
    Thank you for etymology of Penn-6. I don’t think I ever knew that before.

    I’m a bit skeptical of the “oldest phone number” idea — most of the texts I’ve seen say that back in 1919, phone systems used a wide variety of dialing structures. Most calls were made by talking to the operator directly, even after the use of phone numbers, because many phones didn’t have dials. Philly was on a 2L-3D system through the 1940s, and I wasn’t aware that NYC went to a 7-digit number that early.

  2. Brian says at June 6th, 2009 at 12:08 pm :
    Not the oldest phone number – the oldest continuing phone number. Meaning, they haven’t stopped using it since they got it, back in 1919.

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