Calling Middleport!

By Anna Wallace, Former Middleport Village Historian

Telephones come to Middleport NYThe first dial telephones in the area were installed in 1938 at Middleport and Gasport, apparently as a “trial run”.

Lockport, with 10,000 customers, received their dial system in 1951. In 1950, New York Telephone Company was granted the first rate increase in 20 years.

Middleport residence private lines cost $3.25; 4-party lines and rural, $2.50. Business private, $5.50; 2-party lines $4.75, rural $3.75. There were 1385 phones in Middleport and Gasport. In 1930, Middleport could call only 1050 phones toll-free; now Middleport subscribers could reach 1550 without toll.

All Middleport numbers received 5 digits, beginning with the office designation “6” in 1951, the first step in the program, which in the future would make it possible for direct dialing over a wider area.

The Middleport Central Office building on Vernon Street was enlarged to increase their facilities by 70%, as their daily volume of calls had increased from 2000 to 4000 in five years.

The public was invited to attend an informal Open House to see how the dial system works. Fees of 5 cents per minute were cancelled for Middleport-Medina calls.

A few years later all NY Telephone numbers were changed to a 2-letter, 5-numeral plan to prepare for eventual nation-wide dialing by all customers. The Middleport Central Office name assigned was Republic-5 — now “735”.

Those strange looking radio relay antenna towers like the one on Mountain Road, are spaced about 30 miles apart and speed travel of the long distance calls and television programs. In 1963, Direct Distance Dialing connected 83 million telephones across the country.

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