Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
What time is it, New York?
The clock embedded in the sidewalk at the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane is an undisputed treasure of old New York.
But for a while, after its designer Frank Homm passed away in 1917, the owners of William Barthman Jewelers covered the clock with cardboard. Without Homm's mechanical expertise, the store's management had trouble setting the time, and feared that a unwound clock might send the wrong message about their brand.
Nowadays, the clock, which has inspired imitators across the world, is again visible, and intermittently telling time.
The watch blog Hodinkee has chronicled its history in a long article (complete with clippings, photos and other historic imagery) and accompanying short video, in which you can learn more about Homm's creation.
William Barthman general manager Richard Granatoor goes so far as to call it one of the "few real landmarks of Lower Manhattan." We don't dispute the clock's claim to fame, but we might rather say that it's in good company down there.