It's 10 o'clock. Do you know what time it is?

Dowd_Monument.jpg

That sculpture behind the bank on Broadway--it's for Charles Dowd.

By Mike Hare

If it's 10 AM in New York City, what time is it in Boston? How about Philadelphia? Or Washington D.C.? These questions were a lot tougher to answer before a Saratoga headmaster stepped in and synchronized a nation.

From the time Christopher Columbus landed in the new world until 1883, America's system of keeping time was pretty arbitrary. Each town had free reign to set its own time, regardless of its neighbors' clocks. If it was 10 AM in New York City, it could be 10:10 in Philadelphia or 11:52 in Washington D.C.

With the advent of railroads in the early 19th century it could have gotten better--but it didn't. The railroads set their own "railway times" and municipalities and passengers began to follow them. It all sounds fine, except the railways stipulated different times for different locales.

Dowd2.jpgConfusing? Charles Dowd thought so. Dowd was the headmaster at the Temple Grove Seminary (then the main building for Skidmore College) on Circular Street in Saratoga Springs.

In 1869 Dowd devised a system of "time belts" for the U.S. but the railroads resisted.
He spent more than a decade streamlining his system,and trying to convince the railroads, and the government, of its value.

Finally, the railroads caved, and in November 1883, America's clocks switched to what was called, "Standard Railway Time". Eventually the name was shortened to Standard Time, and its derivative, Daylight Savings Time, came along later.

Dowd had beaten the railroad, but in an ironic twist, the railroad was his undoing as well. In 1904, 79 year old Charles Dowd was struck and killed by a train while crossing North Broadway.

Mike Hare is the author of Saratoga Lives and a Spa City tour guide.

Find It

Charles Dowd Monument
Long Alley and Church
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Recycled robots

We're charmed by these robot sculptures standing in Jim DiNapoli Park, the wedge of grass and sidewalk and trees and benches between Maiden Lane and... (more)

Civil War walking tour of Albany Rural Cemetery

The Albany Rural Cemetery has a Civil War walking tour August 4. Tour blurbage: Mark Bodnar, known as "The Civil War Guy" at Albany Rural,... (more)

What qualifies as the Capital Region?

What or where is the Capital Region? Should be a few core counties? The entire "commuting shed" for people who work here? A broad economic... (more)

Toasting the Past and Present of Arbor Hill

This Thursday is the 12th birthday party for the Albany Barn (with food, drinks, music, and art), and the Ten Broeck Mansion is also hosting... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: guns, crosswalks, a bad case of the selfies, a gravel grinder,... (more)

Recent Comments

I frequently find myself along this trail on Sunday mornings, hungry, & very little is open. There's a lot of talk about special mowers & building bathrooms & that's nice, yes, let's do that, certainly. But *right now* people using this trail are hungry & want to buy food & drink (& use the bathroom, as a paying customer): if the businesses that are already there were OPEN it would go a long way to providing amenities & destinations. ...

Historic brewing district tours of Albany

...has 3 comments, most recently from Colin

A very animated explainer about ticks

...has 1 comment, most recently from Jamie

Shmaltz is selling its brewery

...has 2 comments, most recently from Sean

The Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail is set to get a new paved section this summer, and a few more bits about its future

...has 4 comments, most recently from Sean

E-bikes stretch the idea of what a bike can be in interesting ways, but they're stuck in a gray area here in New York

...has 8 comments, most recently from Russell Nelson