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Celebrating meaning behind 716 area code

Posted at 11:19 PM, Jul 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-17 09:56:53-04

It's not just a regular July 16th here in Buffalo... it's "716 Day," a day that brought members of the community out to celebrate and share their "Buffalove."

But those three numbers were once almost taken away.

"716 is a culture," said Buffalo resident Kayla Maggiore. "Everyone who is either from here or who has joined our community jumps on the 716 bandwagon."

The front page of the newspaper 16 years ago showed the battle Buffalo and Rochester were fighting to keep the 716 area code.

"It probably all came about because of mobile phones and cell phones," said former Erie County Director of Information Technology, Les Hoffman. "Everyone was getting one and they were running out of numbers very quickly."

This meant either Buffalo or Rochester would have to give up 716 and get a new area code. But these three numbers were already a part of Western New York's identity.

"It was the beginning of the new renaissance that took place," said former Erie County Executive, Joel Giambra. "That branding became very important to this community and we didn't want to lose that identity because we had begun to see some momentum as we were shifting from a manufacturing economy to a more retail-based service economy."

So the community came together to win the battle for the area code.

"We started an aggressive campaign," said Giambra. "We lobbied the governor, the state senator at the time, because we thought it was important to maintain and retain that identity of 716."

The campaign was successful. The Public Service Commissioner at the time decided that 716 should stay in Buffalo.

"Part of the reasons the state gave it to us was that we had 300,000 more people and 9,000 more small businesses so it would be less of a burden in Western New York to leave 716 here," said Hoffman.

Buffalo was able to keep 716 while Rochester became 585, giving us July 16th to celebrate, and share the "Buffalove" those numbers represent.

"I love Buffalo because it's the best area code in the phonebook and we have the best time and the best people," said Buffalo resident, Sheldon Costa.

"It's about family -- this is my cousin," said Cathleen Lewis, who was born and raised in Buffalo. "I've been away for 30 years but I always come back because this is probably the friendliest places to live."