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Area code 612 is the telephone numbering plan code for the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota and a few surrounding areas such as Fort Snelling, St. Anthony and Richfield. It is currently the smallest area code in the state by land area. However, like every single metropolitan area code in the United States, the region used to be much larger, accounting for the entire Twin Cities region and a wide swath surrounding it. The Twin Cities metro calling area (612, most of area codes 651, 952, and 763, plus parts of area codes 320 and 507 in addition to 612) is the largest geographic toll-free calling zone in the United States.
A map of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) in 1947 showed the region defined as roughly one third of the area of Minnesota, with the separating line extending westward from Duluth to the center of the state, then down through the center. The rest of the state consisted of area code 218, which formed an "r"-shaped region around the 612 area code.
In 1954, the state was divided into three area codes. Part of the southern portion of the old 612 territory, including Rochester and Mankato, was combined with the southwestern portion of 218 to form the new area code 507. The 612 area code was rotated out to reach the western edge of the state. It still included the Twin Cities, but no longer extended far to the north. The 218 region was made more square, covering roughly the top half of the state. This configuration remained in place for 42 years.
In 1996, the region was broken into two parts, with almost all of the old 612 territory outside of the Twin Cities becoming area code 320. The 612 region was roughly split in half two years later in 1998. Minneapolis and western suburbs retained the old code, while most of the Twin Cities region east of the Mississippi River—including St. Paul—gaining the new area code 651. The most recent split occurred in 2000, when the 612 code shrank to its current size, area code 763 was created to include the northwest suburbs, and area code 952 began to be used for southwest suburbs. The area code splits in the Twin Cities are unusual because they split along municipal, rather than central office, boundaries. This led to a sizeable number of exchanges being divided between two area codes, and a few being divided between three.
The St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a notable exception to the regional numbering plan. Because of an integrated phone system between the main Minneapolis campus and the one to the east in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, students and staff on that campus use the 612 area code.
|Minnesota area codes: 218, 320, 507, 612, 651, 763, 952|
|West: 763, 952||612||East: 651|