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


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.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show: Andy Sandford

The Pretty Much the Best Comedy Show series will be at Capital Rep in Albany this Saturday, October 29, instead of its usual spot at... (more)

"That's why often we were called the 'isolation kids.'"

Over at the Albany Student Press, Stefan Lembo-Stolba looks at the strict summer orientation program for UAlbany's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), and reports that some... (more)

TEDxAlbany 2016 speakers lineup, and tickets are now available

The lineup is out for this year's TEDxAlbany, which is December 1 at Overit in Albany. This topics for this year's talks range from social... (more)

Morning Blend

Another arrest in Rensselaer County homicides case Troy police say a fourth person has been arrested in the case involving the beating death of Javier... (more)

Today's moment of wildlife

While walking along Myrtle Ave near South Main Ave in Albany Monday afternoon, we heard this faint whooshing sound and then looked back to see... (more)

Recent Comments

... the Helderberg neighborhood is fabulous for Trick or Treating, maybe too much so. We always see families coming from other parts of Albany by the van load - being dropped off at one end and working their way to the other. Lots of houses in friendly neighborhoods = a packed and good time. It is also rumored that a few adults dress up and roam the streets handing out adult beverages to other adults. Again, just a rumor...

How to store 750,000 gallons of water, out of sight

...has 3 comments, most recently from ethan

Botanical gardens in the region?

...has 11 comments, most recently from Justin Balancier

Can you answer these five 8th grade math questions correctly?

...has 49 comments, most recently from beeb

Upstate Artists Guild campaign

...has 1 comment, most recently from Afraid

Eight short stories recalling the lives of African Americans buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery

...has 5 comments, most recently from Paula