Area codes 201 and 551

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Map of area code 201

Area codes 201 and 551 are the North American telephone area code for the state of New Jersey covering most of Hudson and Bergen counties. Major cities in the area code include Jersey City, Hoboken, Hackensack, Secaucus, Englewood and Englewood Cliffs. 201 is the main area code, while 551 is an overlay covering the same area.

201 one of the original area codes assigned in 1947, and was also the first area code to be assigned in the United States, as part of the North American Numbering Plan. It originally covered the entire state of New Jersey.[1][2] This was unusual, since New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation; it is split almost down the middle between two large metropolitan areas—the suburbs of New York City in the north and the suburbs of Philadelphia in the south. The North American Numbering Plan Administrator took this into account when it assigned 201 to New Jersey to keep the number of rotary dial pulses (13) to a minimum for densely populated areas making NJ the fastest that could be dialed.

In 1951, the first direct-dialed long distance call was made by customers from Englewood, New Jersey to Alameda, California.[2]

In 1958, 201 was restricted to northern New Jersey, when southern New Jersey—including the state capital, Trenton, the southern Jersey Shore and the New Jersey side of the Delaware Valley—was assigned area code 609.[3]

After the split in 1958, area code 201 served the northern counties in the state: Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Union, Morris, Passaic, Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth, Sussex and Warren counties--a region largely coextensive with the New Jersey side of the New York City area.

As the central region of New Jersey grew during the 1980s, the northeastern section of the state lost sizable chunks of its population due to the decline of its major cities, including Newark, Paterson, Clifton, and Elizabeth. On June 8, 1991, area code 908 split off from 201; it primarily serves the north-central regions of the state.[4]

During the mid-1990s, cell phones and Internet dial-up connections proliferated. In response to the pressure for the addition of more telephone numbers, New Jersey added more area codes, doubling from three to six. As of June 1, 1997, Essex and Passaic counties, home to Newark and Paterson respectively, the state's largest and third-largest cities, as well as Morris and Sussex counties, were broken away from area code 201 as area code 973.[4][5] Conventional wisdom suggested that Newark should have kept 201; the reason this wasn't the case is still not known.[original research?] This left Hudson and Bergen counties, the two most densely populated counties in the state and the closest to New York City, as the only counties in the 201 territory.

Demand continued in Hudson and Bergen counties and it was debated whether 201 should be split again, or whether an overlay area code should be added. Verizon, the dominant telephone company in New Jersey, opted for an overlay to avoid the costs and disturbance associated with renumbering.

Area code 551 was created in 2001 to overlay 201, along with area codes 862 and 848, which overlay area codes 973 and 732, respectively.[6] With the implementation of the overlay area code on December 1, 2001, 10-digit dialing became mandatory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Now you can call, if your calls don't work some business lines aren't set up to all to new area codes., The Virginian-Pilot, November 1, 1995. Accessed June 8, 2007. "When the first area code, 201, was introduced in New Jersey in 1951, phone-numbering experts thought there would be enough codes with a middle digit of '0' or '1' to last well into the next century."
  2. ^ a b 1951: First Direct-Dial Transcontinental Telephone Call, AT&T Inc., accessed May 12, 2007.
  3. ^ About Verizon New Jersey: Years 1931 to 1969, Verizon Communications, accessed May 12, 2007.
  4. ^ a b About Verizon New Jersey: Years 1985 to 1998, Verizon Communications, accessed May 12, 2007.
  5. ^ Newman, Andy. "New Area Codes Introduced", The New York Times, June 2, 1997. Accessed January 23, 2008.
  6. ^ McKay, Martha. "New Jersey Assigned New Area Codes.", The Record (Bergen County), April 18, 2001. Accessed August 11, 2001. "The new New Jersey area codes -- 551, 356, and 848 -- were announced this week and will be introduced next year in the regions currently served by 201, 973, and 732, respectively."

External links[edit]

New Jersey area codes: 201, 551, 609, 732, 848, 856, 862, 908, 973
North: 845
West: 862/973201/551East: 212/646, 347/718, 914, 917
South: 347/718, 917
New York area codes: 212, 315, 347, 516, 518, 585, 607, 631, 646, 716, 718, 845, 914, 917, 929

Coordinates: 40°52′04″N 74°26′16″W / 40.8678°N 74.4379°W / 40.8678; -74.4379