What’s in a number

What is in a number? Lots of hidden value if that number is 212. According to a story in the Christian Science Monitor (Backstory: In area codes, 212 is the only-est number), phone numbers with the Manhattan area code are selling a prices starting at $250 and ranging as high as $9000 to someone in Los Angeles. The reason:

“If you had to assign a number to the center of the universe in the American mind, that number might as well be 212,” says Robert Thompson, a professor of media at Syracuse University in New York. “It’s probably one of the most intensely imagined square miles in the nation, and to a degree, in the world.”

I think I will stick with my 202 area code. Maybe I should even stock up. You know — 202, Washington DC, capitol of the free world, same starting number as the White House and the Congress . . .
Then again, it may not have the same panache. As the Monitor points out:

The geographic diversity of [number reseller Sal] Pugliese’s clientele only seems to validate what New Yorkers have always said: Civilization has a center, and they live in it. But instead of bodily moving to the concrete jungle – an old-fashioned notion in a cyberenabled world – this new generation of aspiring New Yorkers simply obtains the city’s area code. With three simple digits, they tap into the glamour of “Sex and the City,” Wall Street, Broadway, and P Diddy. They’ve made it.

Such is the power of intangibles.


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