Most people recognize Iowa’s telephone area codes of 515 and 712, but the southeastern sliver of the Hawkeye State is actually covered by the lesser-known 319 code. This vital telecom hub serves cities like Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Waterloo—the thriving economic and cultural cores of eastern Iowa.
In this deep dive, we’ll unpack the 319 area code from its historical roots to modern day usage across the region. Read on for an insider’s look at how this key area code powers connectivity for millions of Iowans.
Origins of the 319 Area Code
319 entered the Iowa scene back in 2001 as part of a split from the original 515 area code used statewide. Rapid growth in cities like Cedar Rapids and explosion of new phone numbers necessitated dividing the 515 region.
The North American Numbering Plan Administration decided to slice off 20 counties in eastern Iowa for the new 319 area code. These stretched diagonally from Cerro Gordo County southeast to Appanoose County.
Major metro regions like Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, and Dubuque fell within the newly minted 319 territory. 515 continued to serve Des Moines, Council Bluffs, and points west.
This east-west split along county borders created the geographic boundary still used today to define 319 and 515 coverage areas.
Major Cities and Population Served
As one of Iowa’s most densely populated and economically vibrant regions, the 319 area code serves millions of residents and businesses.
Key cities contained within 319 include:
- Cedar Rapids – Iowa’s second largest city and a thriving cultural and economic metro. Home of major companies like TransAmerica and Rockwell Collins.
- Iowa City – The University of Iowa campus drives culture and innovation in this educated college town.
- Waterloo/Cedar Falls – Twin cities anchored by agriculture equipment giant John Deere and the University of Northern Iowa.
- Dubuque – One of Iowa’s oldest cities, Dubuque sits along the Mississippi River and bridges Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Approximately 2.4 million Iowans live within the 319 coverage zone today. Cities like Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Dubuque have seen rapid expansion, translating to more phone numbers and connections.
Geographic Coverage Area
The 319 area code blankets a 20 county region across southeastern and east central Iowa:
- Linn County (Cedar Rapids)
- Johnson County (Iowa City)
- Black Hawk County (Waterloo)
- Dubuque County (Dubuque)
- Marshall County
- Benton County
- Iowa County
- Poweshiek County
- Jasper County
- Tama County
- Grundy County
- Buchanan County
- Delaware County
- Jones County
- Jackson County
- Clinton County
- Scott County
- Keokuk County
- Washington County
- Appanoose County
The Cedar Rapids metro and Iowa City corridor sit centrally within 319 along the I-80 and I-380 corridors. Dubuque anchors the far northeast edge along the Mississippi, while Waterloo borders the north central area.
Surrounding counties then radiate out between urban centers where farmland and smaller towns reign. But all receive their phone service proudly from the 319 area code.
Interesting Facts About 319
Beyond the basics, here are some fascinating facts about eastern Iowa’s vital 319 area code:
- It is one of Iowa’s original two area codes along with 515. 712 was added later for western Iowa in 1995.
- Despite initial projections, 319 still has not run out of assignable phone numbers more than 20 years after creation. 515 remains exhausted.
- 319 ranks in the middle nationwide in terms of area codes per state. More populous states like California have over 30!
- Telephone pioneers Davenport and Muscatine lie just across the Mississippi River from 319 in eastern Iowa. But they use Illinois’ 309 area code instead.
- The University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes and Iowa State’s Cyclones athletic rivalry falls across 319 and 515 lines.
- 319 covers eastern Iowa’s distinctive “driftless zone” that escaped glaciation in the ice age, yielding a unique landscape.
So in summary, the 319 area code powers connectivity across a culturally vibrant swath of the Hawkeye State. Next time you’re in eastern Iowa, keep an eye out for the 319 notes that keep the region humming! Let me know if you have any other questions.