Public Time Gallery

E. Howard & Co. No. 3, Trinity Church Wall Street, in operation 1905–2006.
Photo of Trinity Church Wall Street on 9/11: Used by permission of JLS Photo/Jonathan L. Smith

The Public Time Gallery

In 2021, installation work began on this new gallery, representing the most significant change to the Museum in recent years. It showcases some of our phenomenal collection of tower clocks. These clocks are the most robust of all timekeepers, designed to run in the harshest environmental conditions. Despite their utilitarian function, their cast-iron frames are surprisingly decorative, and visitors can experience the hypnotic action of the escapements and various remontoirs that run daily. 

The Trinity Church Wall Street Clock

If only they could talk . . . The ticking of a clock is a constancy that perseveres even during the most tumultuous events. There are moments in our lives when time seems to stand still. The horror of what we experienced on September 11, 2001, affected our perception of time and for many of us, time appeared to stand still.  

Just blocks away from the World Trade Center towers on that fall morning in 2001, this E. Howard & Co. No. 3 clock in Trinity Church Wall Street continued tracking time and chiming those terrifying, grief-ridden hours in New York City. The clock was donated to the Museum in 2014 after 109 years of service on Wall Street.

Public time clocks such as this one hold an important role in a community’s sense of life’s progress. In the earliest days of mechanical timekeeping, the town clock not only directed daily life but also served as a symbol that quantified local status. 

As you move through the gallery, you will see public clocks from around the world that were built for various forms, such as a steeple, a wall, or a post.

Tower clock, c. 1871, Renard, Ferrieres Oise, France.
Joh. Mannhardt’sche K. Hof-Thurmuhrenfabrik, Munich, Germany, 1899.

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