Seattle Street Clock Inventories, 1920s

I have a thing for Seattle’s clocks. The ones in the sidewalk that are about fifteen feet tall.

I’ve got this database of old photographs or documents indicating a clock in a place at a specific time. Basically, I’m building a four dimensional model of clocks.

Here is the heart of it. Three inventories of every clock in downtown Seattle. They were made in 1924, 1927, and 1928. I stumbled upon them a few years ago at the Seattle Department of Transportation while I was trying to look up street use permits. I never discovered how to see old permits, but after I left a city employee emailed me saying she had found a folder of old records. Pure gold.

Only the 1927 inventory included clocks outside of downtown. They all included a clock at the Japanese Commercial Bank that hung off the side of the building, and ’27 and ’28 included a similar clock at People’s Bank. Possibly those two clocks required a permit to hang out over the public right-of-way, as did the street clocks in the sidewalk. Other clocks downtown (for example on Colman ferry dock; King Street Station; Union Station) were not included, hinting at restrictive criteria.

The KML is now posted to Figshare as open data; if you do something interesting with it, please drop me a note.

Here is the original map in Google.

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