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Vocapedia > Time > Calendar, Clock, Watch, Hour, Minute, Second

 

 

 

Electric Time Co. employee Walter Rodriguez

cleans the face of an 84-inch Wegman clock

at the plant in Medfield, Mass. Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008.

 

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

 

Boston Globe > Big Picture

At work        February 20, 2009

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/at_work.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenwich clock.

August 2006.

Copyright Anglonautes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

time

 

 

 

 

pendulum timepiece        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/19/
clockmaker-john-harrison-vindicated-250-years-absurd-claims

 

 

 

 

timepiece        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/nyregion/
at-workshop-on-watches-making-time-piece-by-microscopic-piece.html

 

 

 

 

marine chronometer        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/19/
clockmaker-john-harrison-vindicated-250-years-absurd-claims

 

 

 

 

hour        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/business/a-big-union-intensifies-fast-food-wage-fight.html

 

 

 

 

during rush hour        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/02/
london-underground-tube-john-lanchester

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/11/
men-stabbed-death-birmingham-centre

 

 

 

 

hour by hour

 

 

 

 

hourglass

 

 

 

 

Earth Hour around the world – in pictures        UK         30 March 2014

 

Lights were switched off

at famous landmarks in cities across the globe

for an hour on Saturday night to mark Earth Hour

http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/mar/30/earth-hour-around-the-world-in-pictures

 

 

 

 

Earth Hour - in pictures        UK        2011

 

At 8:30pm on Saturday 26th March 2011,

landmarks across the world switch off their lights

for one hour in a bid to highlight global climate change

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2011/mar/26/
earth-hour-climate-change-energy

 

 

 

 

wee hours        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/23/us/
23awake.html

 

 

 

 

hour of darkness

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2006/jul/06/july7.uk
security3

 

 

 

 

at the eleventh hour        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/sep/23/
guardianobituaries.hugoyoung

 

 

 

 

make eleventh-hour attempt to...       UK

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/19/
tech-firms-attempt-halt-tax-avoidance-reforms

 

 

 

 

11th-hour agreement        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/19/
opinion/19wed1.html

 

 

 

 

lunch hour

 

 

 

 

happy hours        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/drugs/Story/0,2763,1490357,00.html

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/homeaffairs/story/0,11026,1391631,00.html

http://society.guardian.co.uk/drugsandalcohol/story/0,8150,1258070,00.html

 

 

 

 

working hours        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/nov/28/
politics.tradeunions 

 

 

 

 

hrs

 

 

 

 

after hours

 

 

 

 

rush hour

 

 

 

 

in half an hour

 

 

 

 

in the early hours of yesterday / this morning

 

 

 

 

it's a quarter to eight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

minute

 

 

 

 

ten minutes to eight

 

 

 

 

it is eight minutes to eight

 

 

 

 

every four minutes

 

 

 

 

observe a minute of silence

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/01/
obama-white-house-observes-a-minute-of-silence/1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

second        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/dec/08/
tablet-christmas-google-apple

 

 

 

 

split second        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/04/22/
sports/boston-moment.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/08/nyregion/
police-bullet-kills-bronx-bodega-worker-fleeing-robbery.html

 

 

 

 

a couple of seconds

 

 

 

 

leap second

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/29/
507422729/with-a-leap-second-2016-promises-to-linger-just-a-little-bit-longer

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/30/
418594948/11-59-60-look-for-an-extra-tick-of-the-clock-tonight

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/30/
leap-second-to-pause-clocks-at-midnight-as-entire-planet-gains-a-second

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/
why-2008-really-will-be-the-longest-of-years-1218227.html

 

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/dec/30/
leap-second-new-year 

 

 

 

 

millisecond        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/24/
business/24trading.html

 

 

 

 

any second

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy

by Guy Gilchrist

Gocomics

December 31, 2013

http://www.gocomics.com/nancy#.UsJ6YfTuK_8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows and sundials

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/nav.00500300l005001001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clock

 

 

 

 

biological clock        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/01/
watch-your-biological-clock-vital-health-tips

 

 

 

 

the clock is ticking        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/31/
465059192/for-more-than-a-million-food-stamp-recipients-the-clock-is-now-ticking

 

 

 

 

with the clock ticking, ...        USA

http://www.npr.org/2017/04/28/
526050474/congress-passes-spending-bill-to-avoid-shutdown-again-punts-on-health-care

 

 

 

 

be in a race against the clock        USA

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/31/
500034870/fbi-obtains-a-warrant-to-review-newly-discovered-emails

 

 

 

 

clockmaker        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/19/
clockmaker-john-harrison-vindicated-250-years-absurd-claims

 

 

 

 

wall clock        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gallery/2010/jan/28/
10-best-wall-clocks

 

 

 

 

Daylight Saving Time        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/03/12/
470219847/clocks-spring-forward-tonight-reviving-debate-over-daylight-saving-time

 

 

 

 


Daylight Saving Time:

Set Your Clocks Ahead Tonight        USA        March 08, 2014

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/08/
287854200/daylight-savings-time-set-your-clocks-ahead-tonight

 

 

 

 

atomic clock        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/dec/30/
leap-second-new-year

 

 

 

 

USA > the Doomsday Clock at the University of Chicago        UK

 

The symbolic clock face,

maintained since 1947

by the board of directors

of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

at the University of Chicago,

counts down to nuclear armageddon

http://www.npr.org/2015/01/22/
379157163/atomic-scientists-doomsday-clock-ticks-forward

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/10/
doomsday-clock-ticks-closer-to-midnight

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2010/jan/14/
climate-change-nuclear-weapons

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/jan/14/
doomsday-clock-nuclear-climate

 

 

 

 

chronophage clock        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/apr/17/
chronophage-clock-science-museum

 

 

 

 

UK > Big Ben        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2009/jul/10/
big-ben-150th-anniversary

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/dec/30/
leap-second-new-year

 

 

 

 

strike

 

 

 

 

turn back the clock        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/10/
421789047/fbi-says-background-check-error-let-charleston-shooting-suspect-buy-gun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

set back one hour

 

 

 

 

eleventh hour        UK

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/15/
duane-buck-plea-rick-perry

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/26/
chilcot-inquiry-iraq-invasion-lawyers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

watch        UK

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas08/
chrgif/the-50-best-watches-906070.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/
time-machines-our-chronic-obsession-with-watches-1026135.html

 

 

 

 

watch        USA

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2015/04/24/
401796125/at-the-heart-of-a-watch-tested-by-time

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/nyregion/
at-workshop-on-watches-making-time-piece-by-microscopic-piece.html

 

 

 

 

wristwatch        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/04/02/
521792062/from-wristwatches-to-radio-how-world-war-i-ushered-in-the-modern-world

 

 

 

 

 

pocket watch

 

 

 

 

tell time        USA

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2015/04/24/
401796125/at-the-heart-of-a-watch-tested-by-time

 

 

 

 

watchmaker        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/nyregion/
at-workshop-on-watches-making-time-piece-by-microscopic-piece.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/10/us/
AP-Lincoln-Watch-Engraving.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fall back to standard time        USA

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-26-
daylight-saving-time_x.htm

 

 

 

 

set the clock back an hour        USA

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-11-02-
fallback_N.htm

 

 

 

 

alarm clock

 

 

 

 

round the clock

 

 

 

 

around-the-clock society / the 24-hour society        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2004/sep/12/
worklifebalance.careers1

 

 

 

 

body clock

 

 

 

wind

 

 

 

 

hand

 

 

 

 

five o'clock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Sack

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Minnesota

Cagle

24 March 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clock on / clock off

 

 

 

 

clocking-on system

 

 

 

 

punch the clock

 

 

 

 

clock out

 

 

 

 

get off the clock

 

 

 

 

off-the-clock work

 

 

 

 

work off the clock        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/19/
national/19clock.html

 

 

 

 

speaking clock

 

 

 

 

at seven sharp

 

 

 

 

at eight

 

 

 

 

at noon

 

 

 

 

half past six

 

 

 

 

in less than five hours

 

 

 

 

be an hour late

 

 

 

 

around midnight

 

 

 

 

at the stroke of midnight on Thursday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guardian        p. 19        27 September 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

calendar        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/
opinion/the-last-calendar.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/18/
opinion/18collins.html

 

 

 

 

The year and the calendar

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/conWebDoc.5458/viewPage/2

 

 

 

 

Advent Calendar        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/nov/30/
food-lovers-advent-calendar-recipes-christmas

 

 

 

 

Today is 11/12/13,

the last date this century

with three consecutive numbers        UK

 

This is the tale of Ron Gordon,

the American science teacher

whose life mission has been to make the world

take notice of arithmetically appealing dates

http://www.theguardian.com/science/alexs-adventures-in-numberland/2013/dec/11/
11-12-13-sequentially-ascending-date

 

 

 

 

egg timer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guardian        Work        p. 1        12.11.2005

 

So... what do you do all day?

With earnings figures released this week suggesting

that the gap between Britain's rich and poor is widening,

we invited a cross-section of the workforce

to tell us about their daily routines and wages

 

Ian Wylie        The Guardian        Work        pp. 2-3        Saturday November 12, 2005

http://money.guardian.co.uk/pay/story/0,,1640618,00.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILLUSTRATION: A RICHARD ALLEN

The Guardian        Office Hours        p. 1        13.3.2006

 

Right to a reply

We are all hooked on the convenience of email,

but, new research shows, we hate waiting for a response.

That's the price we pay for not picking up the phone, says Alice Wignall

 

The Guardian        Office Hours        p. 1       Monday March 13, 2006

http://jobsadvice.guardian.co.uk/officehours/story/0,,1729323,00.html  - broken link
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guardian        Work        p. 1        19.11.2005

 

Stretched to breaking point?

The right to request flexible hours

has proved hugely successful,

and is set to be extended.

But, finds Andrew Shanahan,

dissenting voices from employers

- and nine-to-fivers - are starting to be heard

 

The Guardian        Work        p. 3        Saturday November 19, 2005

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2005/nov/19/careers.worklifebalance 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Calendar

 

January 22, 2013

The New York Times

By OLIVIA JUDSON

 

BY the time he was 76, my father was frail. His balance was poor and he had trouble walking. He lived alone in Baltimore in a big house full of stairs, and watching him come tottering down those stairs was terrifying. Each time, I thought he might fall. He refused to make the house safer — no stair lifts, no grab rails (they would disfigure the house, he said) — and would not consider living anywhere else. When my brother and his wife invited my father to move in, the invitation was vigorously declined. And we lived in three different cities, far apart.

To try to cope better with this situation, my brother and I created a shared Google calendar — an online calendar in which we could both make entries from wherever we happened to be. Each time either of us spoke to our father, we marked it in the calendar — what time of day it was, how he sounded, what we spoke about. (If one of us called and he did not answer, we marked that, too. Yes, we both have an obsessive streak.)

For example, on Oct. 13, 2009, at 1:30, I telephoned home, spoke to my father and wrote in the calendar that he was “just off to see the new doctor, writing a list of his medications. Nothing else to report; leaves starting to turn and it’s starting to get cold.” Later that afternoon, he called my brother and said that he liked the new doctor (she was “slim, tall, pretty, and seemed very nice”), and that he had indeed discussed his medications with her.

The upshot was that we had an excellent record of how he was — whether he was getting out, if he was cheerful or feeling low, changes to his medicines, any falls he said he had had. The calendar also allowed us to make sure that one of us spoke to him just about every day. And if I couldn’t reach him, I didn’t have to wonder if he was lying hurt and helpless at the bottom of the stairs for days — I could look at the calendar and see that my brother had spoken to him a few hours ago.

We never told my father we did this — he probably would have been furious. There is, after all, something weird about the idea that people are taking notes on you, however loving their motives. It was our imperfect solution to an imperfect setup. And it helped us.

Just before his 79th birthday, my father started collapsing. First, he fell in the street. He thought he had tripped, but he wasn’t sure. Then he fell several times in the house (fortunately, not while on the stairs). The calendar provided a full record of it — and we could both see that there was something new, something abnormal. It turned out that his heart was stopping. My brother flew down and took him to a hospital, where he had a pacemaker put in.

But the calendar had other, more subtle effects, too. It was, in essence, a journal kept by two people who read each other’s entries, and so it gradually became a conversation between the two of us as well as a straight-up record of events. One day, he’s infuriating my brother with speculations about two friends’ having an inappropriate affair: “I said I thought he was being outrageous and that it was none of his business, even if his wild speculations were true. I hope he has the sense not to say anything to anyone else about his unfounded, wild, no evidence claims.” Another day, I’m remarking, “I’m worried by the extent to which he does not seem to cook for himself anymore.”

As you might expect, there are times when reading someone else’s journal entries is disquieting and revealing. I discovered aspects of my brother’s relationship with our father that I hadn’t appreciated. One of his entries said: “Asked about my accident (first time).” This was more than a year after my brother had been hit by a car and badly hurt. My heart cracked: I had not realized how inattentive my father had been.

Going back through the calendar now, more than 18 months after my father died, the entries chart a relentless physical decline — profound fatigue, sore hips and knees, aching wrists, swollen legs, inflamed teeth, increasing forgetfulness, the savage indignities of old age. One day, he took a bath but couldn’t get out of the tub. Luckily, the housekeeper arrived; she couldn’t get him out either, so she recruited the postman to help. My father thought this was hilarious: I admired his ability to laugh.

For through it all, there’s such courage. Yes, he’s just had a pacemaker installed and he’s feeling rotten, but he’s making strawberry jam. One day, “He sounded very low — lonely, old, and scared.” But another, he’s reading a history of some sinister French aristocrats and planning to install a wood stove in the fireplace. A beloved friend is coming to stay. He’s just learned a new poem.

At the time, I was glad we kept the calendar because it helped us to cope with a difficult situation. Now I’m glad for a different reason: it helps me remember small details about him, the little things that slip out of memory, that fade with time. Laughs, tears, worries, frustrations, joy and love — it’s all in the calendar.

 

Olivia Judson

is a writer and an evolutionary biologist.

The Last Calendar,
NYT,
22.1.2013,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/
opinion/the-last-calendar.html

 

 

 

 

 

Museum Reveals

Engraving Hidden

in Lincoln Watch

 

March 10, 2009

Filed at 12:42 p.m. ET

The New York Times

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For nearly 150 years, a story has circulated about a hidden Civil War message engraved inside one of Abraham Lincoln's pocket watches. Now we know what it says.

On Tuesday at the National Museum of American History, a watchmaker used tiny tools to open the pocket watch and reveal the message left during repairs in 1861.

The first line says: ''April 13, 1861. Fort Sumter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. J. Dillon.'' A second line reads: ''April 13, 1861. Thank God we have a government. Jonathan Dillon.''

Dillon's story circulated among his family and friends, eventually reaching a New York Times reporter. In a 1906 article in the paper, Dillon said he was moved to engrave a message after the first shots of the Civil War were fired in South Carolina.

    Museum Reveals Engraving Hidden in Lincoln Watch, NYT, 10.3.2009,
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/10/us/
    AP-Lincoln-Watch-Engraving.html

 

 

 

 

 

Bong!

Big Ben still rings out

150 years on

Building ‘the king of clocks’
was a triumph over adversity
and it moves with the times

 

January 1, 2009
From The Times
Valentine Low

 

“There is no reason,” said Mike McCann, the man in charge of Big Ben, as he made his way down the 334 steps from the belfry at the top of the tower, “why it should not last forever.” As the world’s most famous timepiece celebrates its 150th anniversary, that is a forthright statement of faith in a masterpiece of Victorian engineering that was deemed so ambitious at the time of its inception that many clockmakers thought it could never be built.

That the Great Westminster Clock was completed was a triumph of perseverance and ingenuity over ill-fortune and acrimony. Not only was the building of Big Ben characterised by bitter rows between some of the key figures – the lawsuits stretched on for some time afterwards – but also when the great bell that actually bears the name Big Ben was tested it cracked, and had to be broken up and recast.

Within a few months of being installed, the new bell cracked as well. The second time the damage was not too bad, however, and, since being patched up and turned a quarter-turn, the bell behind the “bongs” – was ever a musical note so instantly recognisable? – has given all but uninterrupted service.

From today Big Ben – tourist landmark, London icon, symbol of parliamentary democracy – begins a year of anniversary celebrations starting with the launch of a website (www.parliament.uk/bigben). It is a very 21st-century way of marking the survival of an institution that is rooted in the technology of another era.

Three times a week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – the clock is wound up by hand, a process that takes more than an hour because it is not possible to wind while it is chiming. And when it is going a bit fast or a bit slow (which it generally is, that being the nature of mechanical systems) a mechanic places or removes a penny from the pendulum: an old, predecimal penny, of course; adding one speeds up the clock by two-fifths of a second a day.

Mr McCann, who rejoices in the title of Keeper of the Great Clock, gives a slightly embarrassed laugh when he is asked how he checks Big Ben. The answer is that he does what everyone else does: he rings up the speaking clock. He does so from the phone in the clock room at five to the hour precisely, starting a stopwatch on the third pip, and then goes up the belfry to see when the hammer on Big Ben strikes the hour. Simple, if not technologically sophisticated.

When the clock was commissioned as part of the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster after the fire of 1834, the Office of Works called for “a noble clock, indeed a king of clocks, the biggest the world has ever seen, within sight and sound of the throbbing heart of London”. The Astronomer Royal also insisted on one that would be accurate to within a second, which was all very well for a small indoor clock, but a tall order for such a huge one, which would be constantly exposed to the elements. Most clockmakers thought that it was impossible.

The man who proved otherwise was not even a professional clockmaker. Edmund Beckett Denison was a leading barrister and gifted amateur horologist who got himself involved in the selection of the final design, by the clockmaker Edward Dent.

Denison made many revisions to Dent’s original drawing, but his greatest contribution was to design a means of ensuring that the pendulum was separated from the movement of the hands, so that it was not affected by the weather. His ground-breaking invention, which is called a double three-legged gravity escapement, is the reason that Big Ben keeps such good time.

Denison was not, however, a man to waste his energy on considering the feelings of others. He made enemies wherever he went and, in the row over who was to blame for the cracked bell, fought and lost two libel actions. In one he was found to have befriended one of the technicians at the foundry that made the bell, got him drunk and bullied him into giving false testimony that the fault had been because of poor workmanship.

Accurate Big Ben may be, but it is not immune to failure. Over the years it has been stopped by snow, mechanical failure and builders who have left paint pots where they shouldn’t; on one occasion it was slowed down by a flock of starlings settling on the minute hand.

It is, however, still going strong, and shows no sign of doing otherwise. “It is a privilege to look after it,” said Mr McCann. “We live in a throwaway society, and this is something that is going to be there for hundreds of years.”

 

 

 

The clock bombs failed to stop

— The bell – or Great Bell, nicknamed Big Ben – weighs 13.5 tonnes (30,000lbs)

— The clock was first started on May 31, 1859. Big Ben first struck the hour on July 11 that year

— The BBC first broadcast the chimes on December 31, 1923

— The chimes are based on Handel’s Messiah, a phrase from the aria I Know that My Redeemer Liveth. They were set to verse and the words inscribed on a plaque in the clock room: All through this hour Lord be my Guide That by Thy Power No foot shall slide

— When a bomb destroyed the Commons chamber in 1941, glass was blown out of the south dial but the clock kept going
 


Source: Big Ben by Peter MacDonald

    Bong! Big Ben still rings out 150 years on, Ts, 1.1.2009,
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article5425798.ece

 

 

 

 

 

Urban Tactics

Time’s Guardian

 

June 3, 2007

The New York Times

By ELIZABETH GIDDENS

 

NEW YORKERS look to the time the way farmers look to the weather. Many have their own idiosyncratic maps of public street clocks they rely on, scurrying to work or late for appointments, but few would imagine that so many of those clocks run thanks to a man named Marvin Schneider.

Mr. Schneider, who has been the city’s official clock master since 1992, is a short and round 67-year-old with smiling eyes, a salt-and-pepper mustache and a grandfatherly manner. He wears a soft navy cardigan, a corduroy newsboy cap, and glasses that sometimes reflect the giant clocks he cares for, creating the startling illusion that he has clocks for eyes.

One morning early last month, Mr. Schneider trundled up to the 1898 Clock Tower Building, an official city landmark, a few blocks north of City Hall at Broadway and Leonard Street, to wind its clock, as he has done nearly every week for 27 years.

The clock tower, which was designed by McKim, Mead & White to crown their neo-Renaissance wedding cake of a building, is a neat emblem of the mix of extravagance and public-mindedness that characterized the Gilded Age.

Tucked into the building’s 12 floors are municipal courts, parole officer headquarters and, until a few years ago, P.S. 1’s Clocktower Gallery. During the gallery’s 30-year sojourn in the upper stories, artists had their way with the clock: One man rigged the lifeless hands to a motor that turned them at a dizzying, mocking speed, and the artist Gordon Matta-Clark once suspended himself from the clock face wearing a black raincoat, black tights and white gloves to perform an elaborate, leisurely toilette with the aid of a garden hose.

Post-9/11 security concerns forced the artists and their audience out of the building, however, and the tower is now strictly off limits to visitors. But on this rare occasion, Mr. Schneider had agreed to perform his duties in the company of 20 observers, the happy few who had landed spots in an “Access Restricted” tour sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

The rickety steps of the two-story spiral staircase that snakes up to the tower, and the drips and smells and feel of a place long unaccustomed to visitors, all imparted a sense of adventure. But the clock tower itself was nothing short of sublime, and there were gasps as the guests approached the landing.

Four massive clock faces, composed of frosted glass and cast-iron Roman numerals, stare out over the four directions of Manhattan’s grid. From the center of each face a delicate rod runs to the center of the room, where a confounding jumble of gears, spindles, levers and paddles perches improbably atop four cabriolet legs.

With more than a dozen gears, ranging in diameter from a half inch to two feet, this is the city’s largest mechanical clock, and it is attached to a hammer that hourly strikes a 5,000-pound brass bell. The clock keeps time in a manner appropriate to the pace of the era that spawned it — that is, it’s off about 10 seconds a month, a lag unthinkable for today’s electronic devices that register milliseconds with the self-importance of a nuclear countdown.

It takes a moment to read the giant hands’ reversed version of the time, a moment during which you might notice that the four is represented as IIII instead of IV, and another moment to remember that you are still in the 21st century.

Although the machine dutifully, ceaselessly counts off the moments, time itself seems to have stopped inside the tower. An impossibly elegant oil can cranes its swanlike neck over leaded glass bottles from the 1930s. A bucket holds an odd assortment of old clock hands. Down the spiral stairway, the pendulum’s giant shadow sweeps a slow, stately path across a crumbling brick wall.

Mr. Schneider stood in the soft light suffused through the clock faces. His love for the tower was palpable and contagious, and the city behind him appealingly indistinct. Lulled by the clock’s mesmerizing motion and its hypnotic ticking, you might imagine that a very different New York lay beyond the frosted faces.

“If you stand here and look out on the city, you can imagine you’re in an entirely different century,” Mr. Schneider said. “If you want to do a little time travel, this is the place to come.”

AMONG the dozen public clocks that fall within his purview — clocks in City Hall, the old courthouse in Harlem, the old Sun Building, and the borough halls of Brooklyn and Staten Island — this is his favorite, partly because it’s so exquisite and partly because it was his first. For years in the late 1970s, Mr. Schneider used to pass the clock on his way to his job in the city’s Human Resources Administration, and it irked him that it wasn’t running.

“As a city employee, I took it personally,” he said. “A broken clock on a city building reflected poorly on the city itself.”

So in 1979, with no experience to speak of, he persuaded a reluctant administration to let him and a colleague named Eric Reiner have a go at repairing it by assuring the administration that Mr. Reiner’s father was a clockmaker. They neglected to mention that the man had been dead for 20 years.

Like much else in the city in the ’70s, the clock tower was in egregious disrepair, having passed through two decades of neglect.

“There was a foot of garbage up here,” Mr. Schneider recalled. “A lot of the parts were missing; junkies had sold them. The glass faces were broken, which exposed the clock to all kinds of weather. Even the pigeons found the place repugnant.”

After a year of trial-and-error tinkering, performed on a volunteer basis on lunches and weekends, the men had the clock running, and Mr. Schneider soon began eyeing other prominent timepieces. At first it was an amusing hobby, but eventually the Dinkins administration recognized his dedication and named him the city’s official clock master, a post long vacant. Nearly every Wednesday morning since, Mr. Schneider has returned to the Clock Tower Building to raise the two 800-pound weights whose slow descent powers the delicate, intricate gears.

“When this was built, American clocks were the best in the world,” said Mr. Schneider. “Even the Swiss copied our designs.”

The day of the tour, he interrupted his history lesson to warn that the clock was about to strike. A second later the bell sounded its formidable reproof: 10 gongs, followed by an almost cartoonish whirring and clicking of the century-old gears.

As Mr. Schneider replaced three of the 80 bulbs that illuminate the faces at night, his solitary duties seemed to bear an uncanny resemblance to those of a lighthouse keeper: his is an almost daily ritual of climbing, oiling and polishing, all with the goal of maintaining a vital public signal — and a warning — for unseen millions.

“Sometimes,” he said, “I’ll see people start to run when they hear the 9 o’clock bells.”

 

Elizabeth Giddens

is a former senior editor of Harper’s Magazine.

Time’s Guardian,
NYT,
6.6.2007,
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/
nyregion/thecity/03cloc.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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