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Area Code 816 is the area code for most of northwestern Missouri; it includes the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, and the city of St. Joseph to the north. This area code originally covered the entire northwestern quadrant of Missouri, including its borders with Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, but has been reduced so that only Kansas borders 816. Within Missouri, 816 borders only area code 660, the latter being a relief code when 816 was nearing exhaustion.
When the North American Numbering Plan Administration area code map was created in 1947, Missouri was assigned just two area codes. 816 was to serve all points west of Jefferson City, while area code 314 was to serve the east, including St. Louis]. However, before area codes began use, a third code for Missouri, 417, was carved out of its southwest, including the cities of Branson, Joplin, and Springfield.
The assignment of 816 to Kansas City was somewhat unusual, since the North American Numbering Plan Administrator wanted to keep the number of "clicks" to a minimum for large cities given the rotary dialing technology of the time. 816 has 15 clicks, one of the most for an original area code assigned to a major city.
By late 1996, due to deregulation caused by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the proliferation of cell phones, especially in the Kansas City area, it was obvious that northwestern Missouri needed another area code. The supply of numbers was further limited because the Kansas City LATA extends some distance into eastern Kansas, meaning that several numbers in area code 913, the area code for most of the Kansas side of the Kansas City area, weren't available for use.
In early 1997, the Missouri Public Service Commission, which oversees telecommunications in the state, held hearings regarding a possible split of the area code. The original recommendation of the Missouri PSC was to assign a new area code, 660, to the eastern and northwestern portions of the old 816 territory, as it would cause the least disruption. (1) Generally, St. Joseph and metropolitan Kansas City were left in 816. Two notable exceptions were Lexington and Warrensburg, which were drawn into 660 even though they are generally reckoned as part of the Kansas City area.
On June 4, 1997, the Missouri PSC announced that starting on October 12 of that year, that a period of permissive dialing would commence for those areas that were to receive the new area code 660, meaning that calls could be completed using either 660 or 816. On April 19, 1998, 660 became mandatory for all calls in the affected area. (2)
In 2000, the Missouri PSC announced plans to add 975 as an overlay of the 816 area code, but soon postponed indefinitely the May 5, 2002, implementation date when the commission determined no immediate need for additional phone numbers.
|Missouri area codes: 314, 417, 573, 636, 660, 816|
|West: 785, 913||area code 816||East: 660|
|Kansas area codes: 316, 620, 785, 913|