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Sidewalk Clocks Return Downtown

Walker Evans Walker Evans Sidewalk Clocks Return DowntownPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Members of the Downtown Residents Association (DRAC) set out nearly five years ago with a mission to repair and restore two Downtown clocks as a gift to the City of Columbus during its bicentennial celebration in 2012. That birthday gift may be a bit belated at this point, but the clocks have finally reappeared and are nearly in working order once again.

“The clocks have been restored and sitting in storage for awhile,” said current DRAC President Amy Schmittauer. “They’re likely to be workable by the end of month, and sometime between now and mid-summer, we’ll be celebrating them with an official event.”

While a four year delay may sound like a long time to wait, multiple factors affected the project along the way.

“Part of it had to do with raising enough money to restore both clocks, and that took awhile,” explained Marc Conte, Deputy Director of Research, Planning & Facilities at Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District. “The clocks were then removed and taken to Cincinnati late 2012, and we got them restored in 2013.”

After that, the clocks sat in storage while, awaiting the start of the Pearl Alley and Lynn Alley Renovations — another project that was initially delayed, but is now in the process of wrapping up its first phase of construction this spring.

“Normally, these clocks used electricity from adjacent property owners, but since they’re the property of city moving forward, we wanted to tie them into utilities in the street,” explained Conte. “Given that we were working toward the alley improvements, we thought that instead of digging up alley twice, let’s just do it once.”

While the functionality of a street clock seems a bit redundant in an era where everyone walking by has a clock on the mobile phone in their hand/pocket, the two clocks being reinstalled represent a public display of Columbus history. The clock being reinstalled on High Street at Lynn Alley was originally set up around the year 1915, making it just over 100 years old. The clock going in on Gay Street at Pearl Alley was first installed in front of that building in 1920, and has moved around several times — first to the Neil House, and later to COSI.

For more information, visit downtowncolumbus.com/home/living/clocks/.

All photos by Walker Evans. 

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