After reading our Daily What?! on the 114-year old clock embedded in the sidewalk on Maiden Lane in New York City, Untapped Cities reader @meringuette asked us about the above photograph via Twitter:

“@untappedcities Any idea what this is? 4 avenue du Colonel Rol Tanguy (Denfert Rochereau) #Paris”

Turns out, until January 21st, 1902, each town in France had its own official time based on the sun. Time in France could be separated up to 4 minutes based on longitude. As you can imagine, this caused some logistical difficulties in the country. Clocks in train stations had to have two minute hands, one gave the local time, the other gave the time in Paris. According to this website (translated into English), “In 1884, a French scientific congress voted to pass a unified time based on the prime meridian in Greenwich, but in France, nobody would adopt this system because it would have meant a surrender to the enemy: the British!”

In 1902, the country adopted the time in Paris as the official time, known as the “heure de l’Observatoire.”

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