Like many states, Kentucky received only one area code 502 in 1947 from the North American Numbering Plan. Kentucky had a population of 2.8 million people. Many of those people lived in rural areas that hadn’t seen as much development as cities like Louisville and Lexington.
The state’s population grew by about 100,000 people between 1947 and 1954. During this time, new infrastructure and telephones finally reached rural areas, and the second area code 606 was released. However, Eastern Kentucky continued to have infrastructure problems and a high level of poverty, resulting in making the area lag behind the rest of the state.
In 1999, the state received two more area codes, 859 and 270. On a standard telephone keypad 859 spelled UKY, a nod to the University of Kentucky based in Lexington. Perhaps, the area code 859 showed that the North American Numbering Plan gave states leeway with humor in their phone numbers.
When Kentucky received area code 270 in 1999, the state anticipated having enough numbers for several decades. However, cell phones became cheaper and more popular. People bought so many phones that area code 270 ran out of numbers within five years. The fifth area code 364 was released in 2013 to cover the growing western and south-central areas. Kentucky anticipates area codes 502 and 859 may have enough available phone numbers until the end of 2017. For more information about Kentucky’s state history, population growth, and technology adoption, visit the Kentucky Area Codes infographic originally published by Checkthem.