2007_06_arts_clocktower.jpgWe've mentioned the "Restricted Access" tours put on by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Recently, a group of 20 on this tour got to see the inner workings of the 1898 Clock Tower Building with Marvin Schneider, the city's official clock watcher. He said of the tower, “If you stand here and look out on the city, you can imagine you’re in an entirely different century. If you want to do a little time travel, this is the place to come.” Given it's a unique clock in this city, being non-electric and in its original state, this must be easy to do. Read more about the inner workings in this essay written by Schneider in 1985.

The NY Times reports on the intimate occasion, where Schneider wound the clock with spectators around - a rare event as he's performed this task nearly every week for 27 years, alone. No one has been allowed in the tower since after 9/11. Prior to that, however, PS 1's Clocktower Gallery was housed there - and artists often used the clock as a canvas. Even without their flare, the Times notes that "the clock tower itself was nothing short of sublime, and there were gasps as the guests approached the landing. Four massive clock faces, composed of frosted glass and cast-iron Roman numerals, stare out over the four directions of Manhattan’s grid."

Schneider also makes sure the clocks in City Hall, the old courthouse in Harlem, the old Sun Building, and the borough halls of Brooklyn and Staten Island are running on time - something he's been doing since 1979, after being aggravated at seeing broken city clocks.

Check out video (narrated by Schneider) of this rarely seen tower, here. Sign up for more info on the Restricted Access tours, here.

Photo via NYC Architecture.