Long before everyone checked the time by glancing at their cellphones, many decorative clocks were installed to help New Yorkers keep track of time. While some were built as art pieces in more recent years, other clocks have often been recognized as essential pieces of “street furniture,” along with lamp posts, sign posts, and benches.
They also have been utilized in cities all over in order to maintain and enhance the quaintness of neighborhoods. In this piece, we highlight a few of New York’s most iconic time pieces you may or may not have noticed. Of course, this is only a sampling of the various fixtures you can find across the five boroughs. If you know of any others, leave us a comment below:
1. Barthman Jeweler Sidewalk Clock
Located along the intersection of Maiden Lane and Broadway, outside the old location of Barthman Jewelers in Lower Manhattan, a clock occupies a small break in the sidewalk. It’s been located in that spot since 1896, originally installed by Barthman and one of his employees, Frank Homm.
The clock is an ode to the district’s prominence in the jewelry trade and was created to lure customers into the Barthman store over other jewelers. Although its surface is clouded and scratched, it’s still fully functional, and has been since it was installed. The only exception was during the Depression of the 1930s, and temporarily after Hurricane Sandy. The signature time piece is maintained from a mechanical room that is only accessible by going underground. Barthman Jewelers has since moved a few doors down from their original location, but it still resides within the same block of the clock. Read more about its history here.