When anyone mentions famous clocks, they probably think of Big Ben. This is most likely because the Clock Tower of Big Ben in London is the most recognized clock in the world. The clock tower was constructed in the 1830s, and the monument still retains the title of the World’s Largest 4-Faced Chiming Clock, even though it is no longer the largest clock in the world. You may not know it, but the United States has some landmark clocks, too.
The world’s largest four-faced clock is located in Milwaukee, WI. In fact, the clock faces of the Allen-Bradley clock are around twice the diameter of Big Ben. No chimes have been added to this clock so that Big Ben can keep the title of largest chiming clock. Each hour hand on this magnificent clock is 15.8 feet long and weighs 490 pounds while the minute hands are 20 feet long and weigh 530 pounds each. In addition, the numerals on the clock faces are 4 feet high.
Another large landmark timepiece is the Colgate Clock. At 40′ in diameter, it’s the largest single clock in North America. This clock is located at the Colgate-Palmolive plant which was the Indiana Reformatory for Men prior to being bought and renovated in 1923. Therefore, the Colgate Clock has been considered to be a major southern Indiana landmark for over seven decades.
The Loew’s Jersey movie palace has another architectural clock that is renowned in American history. The builders of the facility wanted to attract attention to their building. They decided that since it’s located in an area where thousands of shoppers and commuters were always rushing by that they could best attract attention by adding a clock designed by the famous clock maker, Seth Thomas. This gorgeous timepiece includes one of the few moving figure clocks that’s you can see on the east coast. The figures depicted St. George slaying the dragon, an accomplishment which was repeated every quarter hour accompanied by bells.
You need to visit Seattle in order to tour its famous Clock Walk. Free standing clocks with cast iron pedestals began to be erected as an advertising medium in the 1860s and ’70s. By the 1920s there were so many street clocks in Seattle that people began to refer to it as the “City of Clocks”. Although a number of the clocks have been removed in the past three decades, Seattle is still considered to have one of the most significant collections of street clocks in the country.
Buried in the small, central plains town of Spillville, IA, you will find the home of the Bily Brothers clocks. These two farmers whiled away the long winter hours starting back in 1913 by crafting some of the most unique floor clocks you can ever hope to see. Their first clock, produced in 1916, featured appearance of the 12 apostles every hour. The brothers were adamant about keeping their collection together. Even when Henry Ford offered a small fortune for one of their clocks, the Bily Brothers refused to sell. The entire collection was bequeathed to the small, nearby town of Spillville with the provision that the collection never be sold or separated.
If you really want to feel the scope of American clock making, you can visit the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, CT. This museum houses over 1400 unique timepieces, most of which were made in the USA. The majority of the clocks are still running and chiming, so when the time comes around to 12 Noon, this is one of the louder sites you can visit.
As you can see, clock making is a favorite pastime of the American people as well as the British. By traveling throughout this great country of ours, you’ll be able to find numerous lovely timepieces that have become part of our heritage.