2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the advent of telephone area codes in the United States!

In 1947, North America began with 86 area codes, three of which were assigned to Michigan.

via TelecomMichigan

via TelecomMichigan

Area code 517 was one of the originals. Anchored by Lansing, this code essentially served the entire eastern half of the Lower Peninsula (including Bay City, Midland, and Saginaw), except for the southeastern portion of the state. Area code 313 served the Detroit metro area, as well as Flint and Port Huron. The western half of the state, including Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and the entire Upper Peninsula, began the era of area codes with 616.

By 1961, area code 616 had grown enough that the Upper Peninsula split off and assumed the area code 906. It is still the area code for all of UP today, but the 616 region had to split several times (more on that below).

Area codes 517, 313, 616, and 906 were sufficient for Michigan until the mid-1990s.

Population growth led to the splitting of area code 313 from southeast Michigan in 1993. Almost all of area code 313 north of Detroit was changed to 810 In place. Detroit and areas south kept 313.

Being the same area code for large population centers like Oakland, Macomb, and Genesee counties (among others) turned out to be too much for the new 810 area code. In 1997, Oakland County got his own 248 area code. Detroit had also outgrown its 313 area code, so Washtenaw and Monroe counties were assigned 734as well as parts of southwestern Wayne County furthest from immediate Detroit.

By 1999, enough growth had occurred in western Michigan to halve the existing 616 area code. Grand Rapids and areas to the south would retain 616, while Muskegon and northwestern areas of the Lower Peninsula would move to 231.

Until 2001, Mid-Michigan’s original 517 area code remained intact. That had been enough to provide Lansing, the Tri-Cities, and its other assigned areas with an adequate amount of phone numbers. But as cell phones became more and more popular, the need for more available 517 phone numbers became undeniable. Areas north of Lansing took 989 instead, while Lansing and southern areas retained the original 517 code. 2001 was also the year most of Macomb County broke off the 810 area code and took 586.

The Grand Rapids area retained area code 616 the following year, while Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and the rest of far southwestern Michigan became 269.

2002 was also the year an overlay was first used in Michigan. Instead of breaking up an existing area code and assigning a new area code to part of the affected region, an area could now house two area codes at the same time. Area code 947 was created as an overlay for the existing 248 in Oakland County, which also serves Livonia and Northville in Wayne County.

No new area codes have been introduced in Michigan in the past 20 years, but as needs are expected to change, don’t be surprised when new area codes arrive.

Area code 517 is expected to exceed its allocation of available phone numbers by the end of the decade, according to Telecom Michigan. Will our area be split or will we be assigned a new overlay? We will have to wait and see.

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