Posts Tagged ‘street clocks New York City’

An Art Nouveau clock on a downtown skyscraper

March 1, 2021

The Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadway (officially its address spans 10-30 Broadway) has been part of the downtown skyline for almost a century. At street level, the building follows the 17th century contours of lower Broadway, while the 480-foot tower adheres to the city street grid.

Built to serve as the headquarters for this Rockefeller-run company, the 1928 skyscraper also incorporates Standard Oil’s original building, constructed on the same spot in the 1880s.

But there’s something curious at the building’s second entrance at 28 Broadway: a beautifully designed, possibly Art Nouveau-inspired clock.

What’s the backstory on this unusual clock—a timepiece of Roman numerals as well as tendrils and petals similar to the two stone-carved florals below it?

The 1995 Landmarks Preservation Committee report notes the clock briefly: “The two secondary entrances in the Broadway facade are interposed on large arched window openings, both of which are in pedimented door surrounds with clocks mounted above,” the report states.

The other Broadway entrance, at 24 Broadway, opened into a jewelry store, per the LPC report. Today it’s a branch of the New York Film Academy and is topped by a smaller clock with Roman numerals that lacks the decoration of the clock at number 28 (see it here).

Could the clock in question have come from the original building—or perhaps it has some significance to Standard Oil? Or maybe it’s just a stunningly designed naturalistic timepiece that added a nice contrast with this dignified corporate headquarters.

[Third image: MCNY x2011.34.1129]

The lion and unicorn clock above William Street

March 26, 2018

New York needs more street clocks, those lovely public time pieces that people in a pre-smartphone world relied on to let them know they were late for an appointment.

Or maybe we just need to refurbish the ones that already exist—like this lion and unicorn themed clock four stories up above the entrance to 84 William Street, at Maiden Lane.

In 1907, this breathtaking 17-floor building—a confection of Georgia marble, red bricks, and terra cotta—was the brand-new headquarters of the Royal Life Insurance Company.

An article that year in American Architect and Building News reported that the clock reproduced, “the lion and unicorn which form a part of the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom, and replacing the shield by a marble and bronze clock-face eight feet in diameter.”

Lion heads decorate a ribbon of trim around the facade on the third floor. The image of a crown on the clock is a nice royal touch too.

At left is the building and clock as they originally looked; it’s virtually unchanged today in this shadowy corner of Lower Manhattan.

It’s unclear how long the company lasted here, but today, 84 William Street is an extended stay hotel.

Street clock hunting in New York can turn up some beauties, like this colorful terra cotta clock space on Avenue C and this cast-iron clock at an old shoe store on Duane Street.

And of course, no avenue in the city has more street clock loveliness than Fifth Avenue.

[Third Photo: MCNY]

The beautiful street clocks along Fifth Avenue

April 26, 2012

A grand avenue like Fifth should be adorned with lovely, stately street clocks, right?

New York business owners whose shops were located on this pricey stretch of real estate seemed to think so. These towering timepieces (which also functioned as advertising vehicles) sprouted up in the late 19th century until about 1920, when watches became more popular.

Several extant timepieces keep us informed to this day—like this beauty. It’s stood on 59th Street in front of the Sherry Netherland since the hotel opened in 1927.

At 57th Street is the clock that tops Tiffany & Co. The nine-foot figure of Atlas was carved in 1853 and first adorned Tiffany’s when the jeweler had its store on Prince Street and Broadway.

This 20-foot, cast-iron sentinel at 44th Street was built in 1907. It originally stood at 43rd Street, but when the bank it fronted moved up a block, so did the clock.

One of the most beautiful of the city’s street clocks is the “gilded cast-iron masterpiece,” as the Landmarks Preservation Commission called it, at 200 Fifth Avenue.

The 19-footer dates to 1909—when the Madison Square neighborhood was very posh, and the Fifth Avenue Building it stood outside was so well-known, it shared a postcard with the Flatiron Building across the way.