behind the clock

A few weeks ago Open Doors Denver allowed access to a number of buildings throughout Denver that are normally not open to the public.  Certainly the most interesting of the ones I visited was the upper floors of the Clock Tower.

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The Clock Tower is the only remaining portion of the Daniels & Fisher department store built in 1910.  The other portions of the building were demolished in the early 1970s, leaving only this copy of the Campanile of St. Marks from Venice.  Of course in Venice, the Campanile is the tallest building in the city and Denver’s Clock Tower, once the tallest building west of the Mississippi, is now dwarfed by the surround buildings.

Venice's St. Marks Campanile
Venice's St. Marks Campanile

What the Clock Tower has is, of course, a clock, actually one on each side.  Each clock is driven by a chain mechanism from the same motor and the clock faces themselves are translucent glass.  At Open Doors Denver, they allowed access to the back of the clock faces on a series of different floors which the faces extend beyond.

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Denver’s campanile foregoes the bell to herald the time of day in lieu of the clock.  Surely a triumph of the visual over the other senses, but also a strangely democratic symbol for the city.

I resisted any Buster Keaton-ish reaction to grab onto the arms of the clock and swing wildly above the city.  Tempting, but surely tragically temporal.

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