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The English part of of R' Moshe Feinstein's letterhead reads as follows:

RABBI MOSES FEINSTEIN
455 F.D.R. DRIVE
New York, N.Y. 10002
__
ORegon 7-1222

See for instance this letter, this letter, and this one.

What does "ORegon 7-1222" mean?

I assume the same thing it means here: Old NYC sign with ORegon

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closed as off topic by msh210 Feb 21 '13 at 20:49

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2 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Telephone exchanges in the US used to have two letters, sometimes referring to the neighborhood the exchange serves, and one number. So, Rav Moshe's phone number was 677-1222.

ORegon/67 was an exchange in the Lower East Side. I don't know why they decided to name that exchange "Oregon." This database has multiple references to ORegon but no explanation.

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2  
In general the exchange names didn't mean anything; people would just make up a mnemonic from the letters corresponding to the numbers on the dial. –  Ernest Friedman-Hill May 19 '11 at 4:10
    
Right. They could have equally well have chosen OPera, ORange, ORchard, ORchestra, or OStrich. –  Daniel ben Noach May 20 '11 at 0:38
    
Oddly, the blog entry you (Isaac Moses) link to in your answer implies that the Lower East Side's exchange was called "ORchard" (which would make sense, as Orchard Street is a major street in the neighborhood), yet the letterhead mentioned in the question listed "ORegon". Did Bell have an official name for the exchange, or did it just depend on what people used? If the former, then is there any indication of which name Bell used? –  msh210 May 23 '11 at 17:05
    
It generally has to do with an important thoroughfare in the neighborhood. In other words, if there was an Oregon Street, then it can be assumed that the neighborhood was classified as the Oregon Neighborhood for purposes of numbering telephone lines. Then the first two letters of that name would be the first two digits of that system, or 6-7. So the phone line thus gets its full number 677-1222. It probably doesn't matter if the original street there was Orchard or Oregon. The prevailing custom was to use an easy-on-the-ears word that wouldn't get confused... –  Seth J May 23 '11 at 18:24
    
...so you could intuitively understand and memorize the number upon hearing it. Orchard may have been too confusing (one could easily be unsure, especially in casual conversation, if one heard Orchard or Richard, for example; if you mix up Oregon, however, with Organ, you still have the same first two digits). –  Seth J May 23 '11 at 18:26
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It was his phone number. The first two letters of the word "ORegon" are numbers; after that come the numbers 7-1222.

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So numerically, that would have been 212-677-1222, right? –  Shalom Jul 1 '10 at 14:33
3  
no 212 at that point yet –  SimchasTorah Jul 1 '10 at 14:50
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