Monday, September 19, 2022

Wallet Card with some old phone exchanges

One type of sign I always love to find are those where the telephone still has an alpha-numeric phone exchange, dating the sign to the late 1960s at the latest. I found a few on my recent trip.

I found two similar signs that I was particularly excited about on West 181st Street in Washington Heights (upper Manhattan). Both of these signs were put up by electricians modestly declaring that the building was "adequately wired".

"Adequately wired by Electra Construction Incorporated. 1980 Valentine Ave., New York 57, N.Y. WEllington3-980?" This sign is doubly awesome - not just an old phone number, but a pre-zip-code-era address too! Valentine Ave is actually in the Bronx, but it was not unusual for Bronx addresses to be called New York, NY back then.

"This building was adequately wired by H.M. Moses Electrical Corp. Licensed electrical contractors, 227 East 169th St., N.Y.C. WYandotte 2-0???"

I found a few other fun signs like this: Raffetto Pasta has been a Greenwich Village staple since 1906. I'm not sure how long the sign with the SP. 7-1261 number has been hanging in the window, or whether it was originally somewhere else on/in the building.

Henri J. Billharz operated this plumbing business in Woodside Queens, originally opened by his grandfather Henri X. Billharz 95 years ago. The business is still operational and the phone number 718-784-2468 is still operational.
This sign near the famous Delmonico's Restaurant in the Financial District. Looks like OX. 7-7400.
The old John De Lorenzo Sheet Metal business in SoHo is now an art gallery or something. Half the sign has been replaced by "art" but fortunately the old WA. 5-2985 phone number remains. If you are curious about the other half of the sign, you can see it here.
Most of these signs I had read about earlier and was targeting them in my walks. This one I stumbled upon accidentally. It's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, near McCarren Park. Rappaport Sons Bottle Co. has operated since 1939. They still have a sign on their warehouse with the phone number EV7-0190; like Billharz plumbing, it still works today (718-387-0190). At some point a street artist painted a picture of Colonel Sanders's head on top of a chicken, and at some later point another one covered most of it with their own tag. Fortunately neither defaced the 50+-year-old sign on top.


  1. It's a good thing that people like yourself are taking these photos, especially when it comes to signs like that first one; it doesn't look like it's got too many more years before it just rusts away.

    1. Kinda makes you wonder... which will last longer. The signs... or the wallet card.