Area codes 617 and 857

Map showing the region covered by area codes 617 and 857
Map of current Massachusetts area codes (since May 2001)
Massachusetts area codes from October 1947 until July 1988

Area codes 617 and 857 are the North American area codes serving Boston and several surrounding communities in Massachusetts—such as Brookline, Cambridge, Newton and Quincy (LATA code 128).

The main area code, 617, was one of the original area codes from October 1947, and originally covered the eastern two-thirds of Massachusetts, from roughly the western end of Worcester County to Cape Cod and the South Coast. The rest of the state was served by area code 413; Massachusetts was the only New England state split between multiple area codes at the outset.

In July 1988, most of the western, northern, and southern portions of the old 617 territory, including Worcester County, the Merrimack Valley, the South Coast, and the Cape and Islands, were split off as area code 508. Permissive dialing of 617 continued across eastern Massachusetts until January 1, 1989.

In 1997, the northern, western and southern portions of the new 617 split off as 781, which almost completely surrounds 617. This reduced 617 to Boston itself and its closest neighboring communities.

This was intended as a long-term solution, but within three years 617 was close to exhaustion once again due to the demand for more phone lines for auxiliary devices (mobile phones, fax machines, pagers, and BBS lines). On May 2, 2001, 857 was overlaid onto 617. Since then, 10-digit local dialing has been mandatory.

Some mobile phone numbers from the 1990s assigned to communities in the area surrounding 617 (which is now the 781 area code) kept the 617 area code after the split.


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