It’s About Time

For what is time? Who can readily and briefly explain this? Who can even in thought comprehend it, so as to utter a word about it?—St. Augustine (AD 354–AD 430)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

Tiffany & Co.’s 1853 Atlas clock tells time outside its 727 Fifth Avenue flagship store.

The phrase “in a New York minute” has become synonymous with the fast-paced nature of the Big Apple. Founded in 1624 by the Dutch, New York was the New World’s first bastion of capitalism. To keep the wheels of commerce running smoothly, precise schedules became essential. To this end, precision timepieces evolved into an art form in Europe and America. As the center of commercial, industrial and financial activity, New York developed a preoccupation with time. The city became a showplace for a wide array of timepieces. From tower clocks to sidewalk ones public clocks in New York helped New Yorkers keep track of time. Here is a short survey of 19 public clocks from around the City That Never Sleeps.

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The four-faced opal clock sits above Grand Central Terminal’s information desk.

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

An illuminated clock hangs outside 10 East 13th Street, built in 1900.

“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”
—Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

Like the building itself, New York’s City Hall clock dates from 1811.

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
—Bertrand Russell (1872–1970, British philosopher)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The limestone-clad Con Edison Building was completed in 1914.

“Lost time is never found again.”
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The South Gate of Central Park’s Jacqueline Onasis Reservoir is from 1877.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
—William Penn (1644–1718)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

Grand Central Terminal helps passengers with many timepieces.

“We must use time creatively.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The clock on the Bennett Memorial at Herald Square comes from the 1894 NY Herald Building.

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The Marble Collegiate Dutch Reform Church dates from 1854.

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
—Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The clock at the 14th St. and 7th Ave. subway is newer than the 1914 station.

“There’s time enough, but none to spare.”
—Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932, American novelist)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

This clock is part of a larger work of art at 45 Rockefeller Plaza.

“Time abides long enough for anyone who will use it.”
—Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

Tucked into a corner of 127 Fourth Avenue, built in 1896, is this clock, 10 feet in diameter.

“For time is the longest distance between two places.”
—Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The figure of Lenin gives 250 E. Houston St., an apartment building, its name, Red Square.

“We have not the time to take our time.”
—Eugene Ionesco (1912–1994, French dramatist)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The Cooper Union opened in 1859; Lincoln spoke here the following year.

“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.”
—Max Frisch (1911–1991, Swiss novelist)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The Fifth Avenue Building Clock has been neighbors with the Flatiron Building since 1909.

“Time was God’s first creation.”
—Walter Lang (1896–1972, American film director)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

Outside the Sherry-Netherland Hotel and opposite The Plaza, this clock is in classy company.

“All our sweetest hours fly fastest.”
—Virgil (70 BC–19 BC)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The Gothic gate at Green-Wood Cemetery keeps time for those who have eternity.

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.”
—Auguste Rodin (1840–1917)

Clock, Time, New York, Walk About New York, Timepiece, Clocktower, Clockface

The Jefferson Market Library Clock Tower dates from 1876.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
—Charles Darwin (1809–1882)

Take the time to discover New York with our guided walking tours. Learn the fascinating history, including a murder trail, behind the Jefferson Market Library during our Greenwich Village Walking Tour. Discover more about Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark in Brooklyn, and its grand Victorian Gothic brownstone gate during our Gay Graves Tour. Take our Central Park Walking Tour; it begins opposite the Plaza Hotel, near the Sherry-Netherland clock.

ALL PHOTOS AND TEXT © THE AUTHOR 2016

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