Nosy Neighbor: Why is the Bogardus clock often wrong?

S. wrote to ask: “Why the Bogardus clock is often wrong — “this is the 11th time I have seen it incorrect.”

I’ve written about the cast iron clock before — it was first installed in Lansing, Michigan, in 1910 — but never its guts. The Friends of Bogardus Plaza put me in touch with Jeremy Woodoff, a city planner and historic preservation design reviewer at the Department of Design and Construction, who fixes the clock and who told me this:

“The clock mechanism is original, from the turn-of the 20th century. This particular mechanism wasn’t in this clock, which had been electrified, but it would have been in another Seth Thomas sidewalk clock of the same or similar model. It’s exactly the same type and age of mechanism that was originally in this clock. It’s the only sidewalk post clock in New York City with a mechanical clockworks.” It’s too early to say for sure, but the action below the plaza could be an issue: “We’re considering whether the subway vibrations may have a role in the stoppages.”

The clock has to be wound once a week — or more accurately, every eight days. But it can be would more often if desired, he said. Board members of the Friends of Bogardus Plaza rotate the weekly winding duties.

But the clock is also having mechanical troubles here and there, which he described this way: “It’s still in a shake-down phase. There are many issues when setting up a mechanical clock that only reveal themselves over time, and they have to be addressed one by one.”

And so, it seems obvious to say, give it time.

A side note, Woodoff is a board member of Save America’s Clocks, which did not have a formal role in the Bogardus project, but the organization, along with the city’s clock master, Marvin Schneider, another board member, advocate for public timepieces. Check them out further here. (And if you are obsessed with S Town as I am right now, you will want to.) But the organization did get involved in the effort to save the clock at 346 Broadway, which was ultimately and sadly not successful.




  1. Unrelated, but FT reports that Related just closed on a $258M financing to gut renovate Truffles Tribeca. Sounds like condo conversion.

    • Truffles is built on land ground-leased from a private owner. Hotel or co-op or rental are the three choices generally in this scenario, all things being equal. Not condo.

      • FT reported that they’re gut renovating to sell apartments to wealthy individuals and investors, which sounded like a condo conversion to me. But now CO has an article up stating that Related is planning a 291 unit apartment building and that Related had been working with an architect to reposition the building as a luxury multifamily building, so that sounds like it’s staying rental. Certainly would make more sense given the ground lease.

  2. I have often wondered this myself.

  3. What Tribeca really needs is a Pickle Ball court.