Masters of Time
September 17, 2009 6:58 PM   Subscribe

In 1883, they took control of time ITSELF. They ran the railroads, and they got what they wanted.

No longer would local time be a local choice. In Illinois, in 1883, they met and decided what time it would be.

It became the law of the land in 1913. Slow lobbyists back then, eh what?

Their decision has a wonderful little shrine in Grand Central Station in New York.
(thanks to the NY Times and Dr FrankNFurter)
posted by hexatron (21 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You have four links to the same page - was that intentional? Here's what seems to be NY Times link.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:05 PM on September 17, 2009

The links are a little screwed up, and I couldn't find the link I wanted (a rail trip through 8 time zones going from Louisville to Cleveland, I think.)

The shrine is quite nice.

The links shown are all in the NY Times article.
There is the document from 1883
posted by hexatron at 7:17 PM on September 17, 2009

You have four links to the same page

posted by DU at 7:26 PM on September 17, 2009 [12 favorites]

A 20 year retrospection written in 1903 - "TWENTY YEARS OF STANDARD TIME; Revolution Wrought by Its Adoption by the Railroads. William F. Allen, Instrumental in Securing the Change from Old Chaotic Conditions, Tells How Was Effected."

An article from the time (1883) - "The proposed new standards of time for the railways of the country, which are to be established by the General Time Convention of Railroad Managers, which begins in Chicago to-morrow, has received the approval of the Harvard Observatory, and its co-operation is promised."
posted by el io at 7:28 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite] worse that putting the middle of the map of the world in Greenwich, England
posted by briank at 7:39 PM on September 17, 2009

They run the railroads. The railroads run on time. Therefore, they are time.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:39 PM on September 17, 2009

posted by fixedgear at 7:44 PM on September 17, 2009

I give you Sir Sanford Fleming, master of time and glorious beards.
posted by emeiji at 7:53 PM on September 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

This post? It's about freakin' time.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:16 PM on September 17, 2009

3rd, after Great Britain and India.
posted by tellurian at 8:17 PM on September 17, 2009

To be fair, briank, the centre of the world is actually just a touch South of the Thames.

(sorry New Yawkers)
posted by pompomtom at 8:23 PM on September 17, 2009

This is a weirdly cool story to see on the blue today, because it was less than a week ago that I happened upon this a few blocks from my new apartment.
posted by hal incandenza at 9:11 PM on September 17, 2009

posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 PM on September 17, 2009

You know who else made the railroads run on time?
posted by empath at 10:23 PM on September 17, 2009

The madness was everywhere, particularly in Europe. So it could be that the magnates of the colonies were trying to forestall vicious mockings from European associates.

"In his recent book Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps, Galison describes a similarity between the definition of simultaneity of the Einstein's 1905 special relativity paper and the method of clock synchronization used for railroad clocks."

From Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius By Hans C. Ohanian. "The Swiss of those days were more obsessed with synchronization than anybody else.... In Berne, more than two dozen clocks in public places were linked..." (p.88) Bunch of cultish time freaks, that country of watchmakers.

The clockwork universe and the absolute space and time described by Newton were all the trendy rush, it seems. No wonder Planck was in no hurry to look too closely at energy quantization ... might be bad for business!
posted by Twang at 12:42 AM on September 18, 2009

I say, let the free market decide what time it is. Damn socialists.
posted by ElvisJesus at 4:38 AM on September 18, 2009

You know who else made the railroads run on time?

Not Mussolini.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:00 AM on September 18, 2009

You know who else made the railroads run on time?

Certainly not Amtrak.
posted by oaf at 6:06 AM on September 18, 2009

Dr. Scott: So, Frankenfurter, this "Sonic Transducer", it is, I suppose, some sort audio-vibratory-phisio-molecular-transport device?
Brad: You mean?!
Dr. Scott: Yes, Brad, it's something we ourselves have been working on for some time, but it seems our friend here has perfected it. A device which is capable of breaking down solid matter, and then projecting it through space, and perhaps even TIME ITSELF!
Janet: You mean, he's gonna send us to another planet?
Frank: Planet, Schmanet, Janet!
posted by Reverend John at 6:44 AM on September 18, 2009

I just learned that, in Santa Fe this past september 12th, solar noon was at 12:00:12. Which is cool and that's a fact.
posted by MNDZ at 9:47 AM on September 18, 2009

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