New York's Official Clock Master
June 10, 2007 11:03 PM   Subscribe

Marvin Schneider, New York City's Official Clock Master is responsible for keeping the giant public clocks of the five boroughs running smoothly; the beautiful photo essay with an accompanying interview is not to be missed for fans of giant gears & sprockets.
posted by jonson (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Another NY Times article about Mr. Schneider, to accompany the photo essay.
posted by jonson at 11:09 PM on June 10, 2007

Good find. The clocks remind me of old telescopes.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:40 AM on June 11, 2007

This could be the beginning of a beautiful career in villainy. Mild mannered Marvin Schneider didn't have a care in the world beyond his beautiful clocks. Until one day, when Spider-man abused the Stoic Aide of the Clock Tower building at 346 Broadway to defeat Sandman in a Blizzard of Gears and Springs. On that day, he became The Clock Master! Beware, Web Slinger! Your days of Tardiness are at an End!

Stan Lee style formatting observed. Excelsior!
posted by stavrogin at 1:01 AM on June 11, 2007

About 15 years ago I had the pleasure of spending some time in that uppermost tower room of the Clock Tower building down on Broadway. It's very lovely, seeing all the big gears and being behind the big clocks and whatnot.

Thanks for the post, jonson.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:21 AM on June 11, 2007

I only care about one.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:29 AM on June 11, 2007

Lovely post, reminds me somehow of The Hudsucker Proxy
posted by mattoxic at 3:33 AM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Great photos.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:23 AM on June 11, 2007

I want to be this man's apprentice. No, seriously. If my job could involve climbing up and down clock towers, carefully and lovingly keeping each one in shape, I would be a happy, happy man.

Well, until my knees went out, at least, but by that time I could retire a happy, happy man.
posted by Spatch at 5:15 AM on June 11, 2007

Reminds me of a great young adult book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It has a real fascination for clocks and other mechanical wonders. Thanks for this post!
posted by cubby at 5:43 AM on June 11, 2007

I love these things.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:11 AM on June 11, 2007

I think he's a slacker as the clock on top of the bank building at Atlantic Center in Brooklyn had at least one face disabled for the last few years. Of course, now the whole thing is covered for construction so I guess it doesn't matter.
posted by spicynuts at 7:01 AM on June 11, 2007

The Williamsburg Bank building is not a City owned clock. I think this guy's responsibilities are to keeping up with City clocks.

My favorite clock tower building is in DUMBO (Vinegar Hill) Brooklyn. I think it's one of the cluster of Robert Gair buildings.

They Might Be Giants used it as the location for their "Older" piece on ABC a few years ago.

Another neck craining story of interest from that same issue of the Times:
Water Towers.
posted by JBennett at 7:12 AM on June 11, 2007

I don't carry devices, but I always know where to look up and find the public clocks in town. Clocks at train stations and bus terminals make sense because people standing around waiting want to check the time over and over, and it's sometimes easier to look up than to get out a phone or bare your wrist, and because you want to know that you're looking at the official time. But it's strange to me that a watchmaker will usually have a clock in the window. Not a clock for sale, but a clock to show passersby the time. It would seem to be bad for business. Or does the clock and the need to look at it remind people that they need to buy watches?

In any case, watches killed most of the clock towers, and now telephones are killing watches.
posted by pracowity at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2007

What a beautiful portrait of NYC.

I just spent a week working with some Manhattanites of the "NYC is the greatest city in the world and everyone else can suck our collective stiff one." It got really, really tiresome hearing about how living in New York makes you a Special Breed of Badass, and how Nobody Who Isn't From There Can Ever Really Understand, and blah bling bloo.

Thanks, jonson, for reminding me what's really great about New York.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:50 AM on June 11, 2007

Sorry, that sentence was supposed to end like this: Manhattanites of the "...everyone can suck our collective stiff one" ilk.
posted by hifiparasol at 7:52 AM on June 11, 2007

That was pretty cool, thanks. When I was a kid, my dad ran an historical society, and they got the clock from the old gothic city hall when it was replaced with an ugly modern building. The whole thing stood about 10 feet high. They found a clock specialist who got it working and it sat in the gift shop/ticket office, where we could wind it up and watch the hands move.

They didn't have the clock face, though, for some reason. Always wondered how that happened.
posted by dhartung at 8:06 AM on June 11, 2007

great post, jonson - that photo essay is indeed lovely. Thanks.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:15 AM on June 11, 2007

This could be the beginning of a beautiful career in villainy.

Well, there's already a Clock King. But he's a DC villain rather than a Marvel.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:09 AM on June 11, 2007

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