History is around us, and also beneath us! As it turns out, there is a slice of 19th century advertisement still primly embedded at the corner of what is now Maiden Lane and Broadway in Lower Manhattan. The curious object in question is actually a fully working clock that is firmly planted along the sidewalk. The contraption was installed way back in 1884, and it was used as a publicity gimmick for an establishment then-known as William Barthman Jeweler.
Now of course, a 130-year old clock will have its fair share of wear and tear. In fact, there is a dedicated team who takes care of the antediluvian mechanism with the hi-tech capacity of our modern day. To that end, the customized sturdy glass cover (which is changed every four years) is furnished from United Silica that is devised by a specialized New Jersey-based company which also creates products for GE. According to the maintenance team, the glass has the robust strength to withstand 2,000 lbs of pressure – every bit of which is needed for the whopping 50,000 odd people who walk over the clock on a daily basis!
Oddly enough, most of the pedestrians do not notice what might be among the oldest landmarks of New York City. However, the original patron of the device – William Barthman Jeweler, which is now situated a few feet away from its original location, still maintains a ‘historical’ record of the wondrous gimmick, with century-old newspaper cut-outs documenting the embedded clock. The jewelry shop’s basement also provides the crucial access point for the maintenance crew, and one can actually observe the clock from bottom as people nonchalantly thump over it from above the street.