The Clocks of Buffalo
As a kid, I remember driving on the I-190 towards downtown and thinking that Buffalo was this huge city. I was maybe ten, heading to a Bison's game at then called Pilot Field. I remember being interested in the unique designs of each building, counting as many church steeples as possible, and rolling down the window to try and catch a scent of cheerios. The view of Buffalo heading north on the I-190 is still my favorite skyline perspective after years of photographing the city. This hobby has given me the privilege to learn more about these buildings I once admired as a kid. The more I discover, the more I appreciate the history and unique architecture we have here in Buffalo.
The idea of doing a project dedicated to the clocks of Buffalo stemmed from another idea I've had for a while, focusing on the churches of WNY (this one will take a bit longer, but I touch on some of them in this project). The image to the left came to fruition after leaving Pearl Street Brewery with a few oatmeal stouts consumed. This view is from the corner of W Seneca and Franklin, looking north.
The Catholic Church began incorporating clock towers into their buildings sometime after AD 600, pulling the idea from military watchtowers. They became taller and a more profound piece to the Church buildings over the years, leading many to view the steeples as "attempts to reach the heavens". As more churches began erecting around major cities in America, it became common design to include exterior clocks on the steeples. The pairing of steeples/towers and clocks expanded past just churches, becoming common to design them into many terminal stations, banks and courthouses across the country.
In the lead image, the forefront clock rests on the steeple of St. Joseph's Cathedral on Franklin Street. Buffalo's first Bishop, John Timon, established St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1847. The cornerstone of the Church reads 1851, with completion in 1863. The tower boasted a 43 bell carillon from France, which at the time was the largest in the United States and third largest in the world. Today, two of the 43 bells remain. St. Joseph's still currently serves as the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Their clocks, on the other hand, seemed to have retired from operation...
I know I'm missing a few obvious clocks here, including the wall-mounted clock on the corner of the Union Stock Yards Bank on Broadway and Fillmore. There are many other magnificent churches with tall standing steeples displaying a clock or two. Many Western New York villages boast similar corner standing clock posts similar to the one found on Pearl and Main (picture below). These are the ones that stand out to me. These are the clocks on Buffalo's grandest buildings. These are the clocks that make me appreciate Buffalo for what it is - a small city with a lot to offer! OK, I'm done nerding out over clocks... Hope you enjoy the photographs and captions below!