The History of Local Area Codes (Plus Info on DC’s New 771 Code)

Updated November, 2021:

Using area codes was second nature before cell phones made it easy enough to call someone with the tap of a finger, but for the first 15 years of my life I dialed 7-digits to make a local call.

Area code 301 covered the entire state of Maryland when it was established in 1947. It wasn’t until October of 1991 that 410 was brought into play for Baltimore and the Eastern Shore. Usually the largest city in the area (Baltimore) maintains the original area code, but in our case the D.C. suburbs kept 301. Howard County was split between 301 and 410.

Just a few years after the initial Maryland split, we began to run out of 301 numbers. On June 1st, 1997, 240 was introduced as an overlay area code. This was met with a bit of resistance because it meant we had to dial 10 digits for local calls instead of the 7 everyone was used to. There were talks of the new overlay area code being put into use in Frederick and points west, but Bell Atlantic thought it was unfair to force those customers to change their numbers so they introduced 240 throughout the area.

We are now getting close to running out of 301/240 numbers, so it’s possible that 227 is introduced as a new area code within the next 5 years.

DC will soon run out of new telephone numbers to assign to their current area code of 202 and will start assigning a new area code this month.

Article: DC’s New 771 Area Code Will Start Being Assigned in November

What you need to know about the 771 area code
District residents should keep the following in mind with regard to the 771 area code overlay implementation:
◦ Your current telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
◦ If you plan to get a new phone number on and after November 9, 2021, you may be assigned a phone number with the 771 area code.
◦ You will need to start dialing the area code + telephone number for all local calls, including calls within the same area code.
◦ You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long distance calls.
◦ What is a local call now will remain a local call.
◦ The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.

Fun MoCo Memory…
Phone numbers from certain areas started with the same 3 digits, so you only had to remember the last 4. Please forgive me if any of these are incorrect, but here are a few:

Gaithersburg- 977
Potomac- 299
Bethesda- 365, 229, 530
Damascus- 253, 831
Colesville- 384
Olney- 774
Wheaton/Aspen Hill- 942, 946
White Oak- 622, 439
Silver Spring- 593, 587, 589
Kensington- 949, 649
Germantown- 972
Rockville- 424, 762, 340, 279, 270
Takoma Park- 585

Image below courtesy of Wikipedia

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