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All true, but I think 911 came into use in the US prior to new fangled push button phones.
I assume that 911 had never been assigned an area code prior to its adoption as an emergency number, thus quicker routing.
I've been told (possibly by Dave's dad) that it used to be possible to make "trunk" calls at local rates (which covered the local exchange plus nearest neighbours) by dialling through to the neighbouring exchange, then (because you appeared to be a local call) the next one over, then the next one, and so forth, thereby bypassing the transition to (much more expensive) national calls.
Not that I ever tried it myself you understand, but I seem to remember it was possible to dial numbers in the UK from a call box by tapping the handset cradle to simulate the pulses produced by the rotary dialer. Consequently, it was possible to avoid the tiresome inconvenience of actually inserting money into the device.
As far as Geezer's suggestion... I don't think it worked for international calls from Italy.