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The History Of Area Codes In Los Angeles, And How They Came To Symbolize Angelenos’ Identity




A man takes photos with snow-capped mountains standing behind the skyline of downtown of the city on February 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
A man takes photos with snow-capped mountains standing behind the skyline of downtown of the city on February 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

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For many Angelenos, the area code associated with their phone number is more than just three digits -- it’s an identity. 

Whether you’re 213, 626, 310, 818, or one of the other six area codes that make up Greater Los Angeles, every area code has a meaning within the city. And, as Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison writes in a recent article, sometimes those area codes can lend themselves to stereotypes. For example, 310, she writes, are often attributed to “the enviably rich, and the plastic surgeons who enable them. Phone scammers have been masking with this area code, probably because they figure people are curious to know who’s calling them from another income bracket.” 626? “The Tournament of Roses parade, and that other valley.” But, it wasn’t always like this. There was a time, decades ago, when Los Angeles had 213 as its lone area code. So, how did we get here?

Today on AirTalk, Patt Morrison joins Larry Mantle to explore how Los Angeles went from having one area code to having 10, the social and cultural meanings that each one has taken on and why they’ve become a source of identity for some Angelenos. And we want to hear from you -- what does your area code mean to you? To what lengths have you gone to keep your area code? Join our live conversation by calling 866-893-5722.

You can read Patt's column in The L.A. Times here.

Guest:

Patt Morrison, columnist for The Los Angeles Times; her recent column is “310, 213, 818: Why Southern California is obsessed with area codes