Hey, Steamed Hams! It’s May 18th! Here’s to the celebrating the greatest area code in this fair land: Five One Eight!!
FYI: “Steamed Hams” is a memorable skit between Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers on The Simpsons, with a huge nod to Upstate New York/Albany – Know Your Meme. While it first aired in 1996, it became a meme when technology bridged the millennia gap, and it’s been experiencing a revival on the internet since November 2017, so watch out, world.
ICYMI, today is May the 18th, which coincidentally matches our area code of 5-1-8, calling for “Upstate New York Day.” The 518 area code is the largest in New York state by area, covering a region stretching from the eastern Mohawk Valley through the Capitol Region to the Vermont border and north to Canada. In addition to the Albany-area, North Country cities like Saratoga, Glens Falls, and Plattsburgh fall in the 518, too. (So not only are we the baddest, but we’re the biggest, too.)
A bit of history about our area code number trilogy: We received the 518 area code because the area’s original telephone exchange building was at 158 State Street in Albany. Back then, area codes couldn’t start with the number 1, so after jumbling things around a bit we became the 518. If the numbers had been left in their original sequence, we could have celebrated this day on January 58th, but who wants that? (although after this winter, I think we can all agree that it felt like there actually was a January 58th!)
I feel sorry for those citizens living in other parts of the state, burdened with different New York area codes, like 347, 585, 838, and 845… they don’t get days of their own, and those in 631 – ugh, sooooooo close, but not quite!
As of September 2017, the 518 area code reached its limit, forcing a new era of area codes. Newbies to Upstate New York can celebrate theirs, 838, on… oh, wait. Sorry, this holiday looks like it’s just for Capital Region OGs, but we are mostly a welcoming bunch totally okay with making an exception.
While Syracuse/Central New York could celebrate their area code, I’m pretty sure March 15th isn’t a thing out in the 315, especially in the shadow of St. Paddy’s Day. And don’t bother looking to our New York City neighbors or Hudson Valley hunnies celebrating their codes, because I’m pretty sure they aren’t as festive as their upstate cousins. “Upstate New York Day” is today, and it’s for us, and while the governor hasn’t signed any proclamations making May 18th a holiday in honor of the 518 area code, that hasn’t stopped some from noting the occasion.
So, how does one celebrate “Upstate New York Day”? Let me count the ways:
- Skip the line at Dunkin’ or Starbucks today and grab your caffeine from Stewart’s. Treat yo self to an apple fritter while you’re there. Days easily catapult to a 10/10 with a Stewart’s Cold Brew, jus sayin’.
- Support your local non-franchised businesses and purchase your fast food from Famous Lunch in Troy, Jumpin’ Jack’s in Scotia, or Eggy’s Place in NoWare (aka North Albany’s Warehouse District). TBH, any outdoor fry station or greasy spoon will do.
- Order up some mozzarella sticks and skip the marinara — melba is a tried and true Upstate dipper. Ralph’s Tavern on Central Ave. in Albany might arguably have the best sticks around.
- Place your bets. While “The Track” might not be open for the season yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t throw down a couple bucks at your local OTB. If you’re feeling fancy, I’m sure the ponies are racing at the Saratoga Harness Track, the redheaded-stepchild of the majestic Saratoga Race Course.
- Show some team spirit! Break out that Albany Patroons T-shirt, your brand new Albany Empire swag, a Firebirds shirt signed by Touchdown Eddie Brown from your childhood, or that beat River Rats game-worn hockey jersey (can’t forget about rockin’ any merch from the more relevant Glens Falls’ Adirondack Thunder!) It’ll look especially great when you go up to the Great Escape for the first time this season, or to place your bets at OTB.
- Speaking of, while Great Escape isn’t open for the season yet either, you can get your thrills in by reliving this nightmare.
- Listen to local music, like local hotshots Sean Rowe, Phantogram, Eastbound Jesus, Yarn, or Wild Adriatic, to name a few!
- Sit in an Adirondack Chair!
- Imbibe ’til the cows come home: thanks to our local craft beverage trail, celebrate by sipping on some bonafide Hudson Valley apple juice at Nine Pin Cider, New York’s first farm cidery, or hop on over to Albany Distilling Co.‘s Bar and Bottle shop to celebrate Albany’s first distillery since prohibition! If beer is your poison, hit up some beloved local breweries, like the Albany Pump Station and Fort Orange Brewing in Albany, Rare Form and Brown’s in Troy, Druthers in Saratoga, Davidson Brothers or Common Roots in Glens Falls, or Great Flats, Mad Jack, or Wolf’s Hollow in Schenectady. Did you know The Olde English Pub is the oldest building in Albany?! Cheers to that!!
- Get your steps in and burn some calories by exploring one of New York’s best State Parks: Thacher Park! While you’re there, hit up Indian Ladder Farm Cidery and Brewery for some
Jokes and melba sauce aside, the 518 is a really great place to live. Sure, I love the craft beverage trail, restaurant scene, culture, and the seasons, but for me, it’s really the geography that makes calling the 518 home pretty awesome: living so close to the Adirondack Mountains and New York City is mind blowing. Being smack dab in the middle literally gives us the best of both worlds, and with the sleepy dunes of The Cape being an easy 4-hour trip east, I don’t think it gets any better than that.
Love it or hate it, the 518 is home, whether you’re just passing through or have already planted some roots, so whatever makes the 518 special for you, I hope you can make some time for it today!
Two Buttons Deep is a news & entertainment website based in upstate New York.
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