Area codes 213 and 323 are California telephone area codes in the North American Numbering Plan. They contain, roughly, the area of central Los Angeles. 213/323 also includes several gateway cities of the region, including Bell and Huntington Park. Before being reunited in an overlay in 2017, they had been separate area codes since 1998, with 213 containing downtown Los Angeles and its immediately adjoining neighborhoods, with 323 containing the rest of the area.
Area code 213 was one of the three original area codes assigned to California in 1947. It initially covered the southern third of the state from the Central Coast to the Mexican border. The numbering plan area was extended to the north in 1950, requiring the southern portion of the Central Valley, including Bakersfield, to change over from area code 415.
As a result of southern California's rapid expansion during the second half of the 20th century, 213 has been split on numerous occasions. The first area split became necessary in 1951, when most of the southern and eastern portion, including Orange County and San Diego, was assigned area code 714. In 1957, 213 was restricted to Los Angeles County, with most of the old 213's northern and western portion becoming area code 805. In 1984, the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley became area code 818, thus making Los Angeles one of the first major cities in the US to be split between two area codes (New York City was split between 212 and 718 the same year). In 1991, West Los Angeles and the South Bay became area code 310.
The 323 area code was created in 1998 as yet another split of 213. When 213 was divided, it kept Los Angeles exchanges 1, 7 and 10, while exchanges 2 through 6, 8, 9, and 11 through 14 went to 323. This split made 213 one of the smallest area codes in the nation, covering only Downtown Los Angeles and its immediately adjoining neighborhoods, such as Chinatown. Completely surrounding 213, 323 covered most of the remainder of central Los Angeles, including Hollywood, as well as several neighboring cities, including Bell, Huntington Park and Montebello.
Despite Southern California's continued rapid growth and the proliferation of cell phones and pagers, 213 was not projected to exhaust until 2050. In contrast, 323 was projected to exhaust in 2017. Since 213 still had an abundance of numbers available, and rather than add yet another area code to California's 30+ area codes already in service, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan that "erased" the 213-323 boundary, converting them into overlay area codes for all of central Los Angeles. Since this change went into full effect on July 8, 2017, telephone companies have been able to assign any available 213 numbers in the former 323 area and vice versa, and customers with 213 or 323 phone numbers have been required to dial the area code even to call other 213 or 323 numbers (10/11-digit dialing), even for a number next door. This change returned 213 to some areas that had used it for more than half a century prior to 1998.
Area code 213 is referenced in Warren G and Nate Dogg's song "Regulate", Dr. Dre's "Still D.R.E.", the Electric Six song "I'm the Bomb", LL Cool J's song "Going Back to Cali", Whitney Houston's song "It's Not Right but It's Okay", and Eminem's "Shake That". It is also referenced in "Area Codes" by Ludacris featuring Nate Dogg.
|California area codes: 209, 213/323, 310/424, 341/510, 408/669, 415/628, 442/760, 530, 559, 562, 619, 626, 650, 657/714, 661, 707, 747/818, 805, 831, 858, 909, 916, 925, 949, 951|
|North: 747/818, 626|
|West: 310/424||213/323||East: 626|
|South: 310/424, 562|