The 737 is on final approach, and Central Texas never will be the same.
It’s our new area code, and it’s designed to make it easier to identify the newly arrived Texafornians. No, it’s not really.
The real reason is we’re about to run out of 512 phone numbers. According to the North American Numbering Plan Administration (NANPA, a real thing), an area code has 792 prefixes, which means about 7.9 million available phone numbers per area code. By adding 737, we get another 7.9 million phone numbers. That ought to carry us through until every last Californian has moved here.
The new area code will coexist, peacefully we hope, in 19 counties now in the 512 area code. As of June 1, any attempt to place local calls in those counties without using the area code will reach the always popular hang-up-and-dial-again recording. What you should do is hang up and dial again, using the area code.
As of July 1, all new local numbers routinely will be assigned the 737 area code. Public Utility Commission spokesman Terry Hadley says you can ask for a 512 if you’re getting a new number, but there’s no guarantee your provider will have one available.
Who can’t help but be curious about who is about to get the last 512 number? NANPA estimates that will happen by year’s end. (Somebody do the math and see when we’ll run out of area codes.)
As long as we’re talking about local numbers, I’d like some help on something. Are there any old-timers out there who can shed some light on how Austin wound up with half streets; you know, like 9½ and 20½ and 38½?
I’m sure it has something to do with growth and having to rejigger things when the need arose to put a street in between 38th and 39th. I’ve looked at some maps at the Austin History Center, and it seems some of the half streets started showing about halfway (appropriately) through the 20th century.
I’ve always thought half streets were kind of embarrassing to a city, evidence of a lack of solid planning. And I’m guessing folks who live on Austin’s half streets (though we’re not the only city that has them) spend some time explaining their addresses to out-of-towners.
Here’s what Kyle Carvell over at City Hall came up with:
“We do not have anything definitive right now, but when you look at old maps, the half numbered streets had different names at times (e.g., 39 ½ west of the state hospital used to be Enmer Street). We are guessing that at some point, the decision was made to rename all these streets with numbers, and when there was an extra street between two existing and consecutively numbered streets, they just inserted the ½.”
Sounds plausible. If you know anything else, let me know what you know. I’d also like to hear from half-street residents with tales to tell. Thanks.