The sidewalk clock embedded in Maiden Lane

New York City is filled with lovely decorative sidewalk clocks—some standing tall on the street, others hinged to a building.

But I don’t know of any others that are actually embedded in the sidewalk, like this Roman numeral beauty underfoot at the northeast corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane.

German immigrant William Barthman opened his first jewelry store nearby at 43 Maiden Lane, then moved it to 174 Broadway at this corner.

When the clock came along is still unclear. According to a 1994 New York Times item, the store manager says “some kind of clock has been there ‘a minimum of 80 to 90 years,’ including a wooden model, an electrical one and the current quartz version.”

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9 Responses to “The sidewalk clock embedded in Maiden Lane”

  1. Josie Says:

    I notice that “four o’clock” mark is rendered in Roman Numerals as “IIII” rather than the more common “IV.”

    Is this clock still keeping accurate time?

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Great catch, I didn’t even notice that. No, the time isn’t accurate–but hey, it’s still a lovely piece of street-chitecture.

  3. stu Says:

    On clock faces, the ‘4’ is typically ‘IIII’ and not ‘IV’ – not really sure why, but my dad fixed clocks and watches when I was a kid and so I noticed this a lot. A quick google search throws up this: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/438/why-do-clocks-with-roman-numerals-use-iiii-instead-of-iv

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Interesting, thanks! I’m going to start noticing that on all the Roman Numeral clocks around the city.

  5. Joe R Says:

    I remember seeing somewhere that using the IIII instead of the usual IV was just an aesthetic decision, providing a kind of symmetry on the clock face. This way, you would have four hours containing only the variants of “I”, four hours with “V” and four hours with “X”.

  6. Matt Says:

    A fascinating clock but an hardly informative entry. Is Barthman still in business? Are there Barthmans in NYC? There’s more to history than the New York Times.

  7. Jim Demers Says:

    In 1947, the clock had Arabic numerals:
    http://www.higherpictures.com/ImageViewer.aspx?id=1244&c=22

    Barthman’s is still in business – they claim on their web site that the clock was “conceptualized” in 1899:
    http://www.williambarthman.com/index.php?file=pages&page_id=Sidewalk_Clock
    I’m guessing they have evidence that he drew a design in 1899, which still leaves the installation date in question. A “wooden” one seems extremely unlikely; much more likely would have been a mechanical clock that was wound from below (the glass rounds in the sidewalk are vault lights, indicating that there’s a workspace below.)

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