Clock of the Nations

Dear reader, greetings. I hope your winter break was restful, and that whatever you’ve resumed, be it school, work, or travels, is going well. Perhaps you’d agree with me that if it hasn’t already, the world is increasingly becoming a global village, with the advent of the Internet and all ensuing forms of social media. Consequently it’s easy to associate at least one icon with a country/city/region, even if one has never been there before.

For instance, France boasts the Eiffel Tower; Brazil, Christ The Savior; Belgium, the Manneken Pis; China, the Great Wall; Egypt, the Pyramids; and the USA, the Statue of Liberty. Among the many things that Rochester as a city can boast of is the Clock of the Nations. The Clock of the Nations may be less known but it seems an important part of Rochester’s history.

Created by sculptor Dale Clark, the Clock of the Nations was first displayed in 1962 at the opening of the then Midtown Plaza (1962-2008). Currently, it’s situated at the Rochester International Airport. You may have seen this clock in action, on your way home during school breaks. The clock has twelve cylinders representing twelve countries (Japan, Scotland, Puerto Rico, Ireland, United States, Nigeria, Israel, Germany, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Thailand). Every hour, the clock makes a spin, revealing the content of each cylinder. Each of the cylinders has a scene with puppets. For instance, the last time I saw the clock in action, the Japanese cylinder contained a samurai in a shrine. See the clock in action.

Here’s why the Clock of the Nations may be aesthetic but also historical. In a 1963 educational video about Rochester, the narrator introduces the documentary with the Clock of the Nations and the Midtown Plaza (no longer in existence). He then goes on to talk about the City of Rochester, its planning, its business enterprises, and its evolution, among many things. This means in learning about the Clock of the Nations, you will inevitably learn about the Midtown Plaza. And at that moment, it will be natural to want to know about the era of the Midtown Plaza and what the City of Rochester was like back then.

Finally, it’s no secret that the City of Rochester has evolved over the decades. I’m glad to have found out some more about the city and the Clock of the Nations. For God's sake (and mostly for your own), do stop by the Clock of the Nations to reconnect with some of Rochester’s history, if you happen to be at the Rochester Airport. Thanks for reading.  

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Oswald Codjoe

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  • I was at the ROC airport yesterday and sadly, it appears the clock is falling into disrepair. Most of the scenes no longer spin and most do not have working lights. Is there a foundation or something responsible for its upkeep?

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