Who has turned the clock? The disappearance of clocks in public spaces

Berlin“Have you noticed that all public clocks on the street are being disposed of?” A reader was just writing to me. “A logical step after the phone booths. Nobody noticed because it was no longer needed. […] But I still look at the usual places, for example at Virchow or at Hansaplatz. “

Now one could say: Nobody needs a public clock anymore! Everyone has a cell phone, supposedly. Sometimes, however, I also run through our shopping center and Bahnhofstrasse – a large bag in each hand. Nowhere can I find a way to briefly check the time. With a sidelong glance.

I ran into the old town of Köpenick. And it looks a little better there. Large clocks adorn the old post office, the church tower and the town hall tower. There is also a clock in the shape of a barrel on Schlossplatz. I also found one of these typical large clocks with an advertising cube. And what is astonishing is that everyone is doing the right thing! I say this because some time ago a newspaper wrote that many public clocks in Berlin were showing the wrong time. The Berliner says: “They don’t tick right” or “Jehn nach’m Mond”.

I think it would be a shame if the public clocks were gradually abolished altogether. Also because that would mean losing a nice educational opportunity. Paulchen Panters “Who turned the clock? Is it really that late? ”Can only be understood from a clock with hands. And it would be sad if parents could no longer ask the quick question on the way to school: “What time is it when the small pointer is on the one and the big pointer is on the three?” How should one then “learn the clock”?

A school friend once sang the popular learning verse: “Quarter, half, three-quarters, full – my watch, it works like a charm!” That can only be understood by means of a circle that can be quartered. Many people from outside the city cannot do anything with the Berlin words like “viertel fümwe” or “dreiviertel zwoo”. They probably got rid of the big clocks much earlier.

And then: How beautiful can public watches be – as jewelry and meeting places. Berlin also has them: the world time clock, the traffic tower at Potsdamer Platz, the set theory clock at the Europa Center and others.

I remember a beautiful story I heard once in Cairo. Around 1830, the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali Pasha received an iron clock tower from the French king, which he erected on a large mosque. In return, he sent an ancient obelisk 23 meters high, three millennia old. It once stood at a temple of Ramses II and is now in Paris, on the Place de la Concorde. So much for the value that public clocks once had. Today the clock tower is rusting, the obelisk is probably still 3000 years old.



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