Despite popular misconception, those big numbers in Union Square do not count the national debt. The real National Debt Clock is located on 44th Street and 6th Avenue and is actually a location on Google Maps:
The debt clock was an initiative of real estate developer Seymour Durst in 1989 when the debt was at $3 trillion, and was originally located a few blocks away at 42nd Street and 6th Avenue (now One Bryant Park). A new clock was installed in 2004 at the current location and can run backwards. By 2008, the clock had run out of digits when the debt passed $10 trillion, but that shortcoming was quickly rectified.
We took these photos at night, but the top number is the national debt, and the bottom number is your family’s share. As of Monday, the national debt was approximately $17.2 trillion.
Here’s a photo from 2009, at $11.8 trillion.
Image via Wikicommons user Johanfo