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Ferry Building Clock Springs Forward

by Anne Evers Hitz

Time Travel

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Inside view of the Ferry building clock, photo courtesy of Anne Evers Hitz.

“If you want to join us, you need to be there at 1:15am sharp. We change the clock precisely at 2am,” said Paul. I thought, this is going to be interesting. I had just met Paul Bailey-Gates at History Days at the Old Mint. He had stopped by my table, which was piled high with copies of my book, San Francisco’s Ferry Building. While chatting, he mentioned that he goes up into the Ferry Building tower every spring to help Dorian Clair, who maintains the 1898 clock, and adjust the time for Daylight Savings Time. Paul asked if I’d like to accompany them, and I leapt at the chance. He would have to get permission for me to go, and a few days later the chief engineer had given his OK. I was to meet him at the front lobby early, early Sunday morning on March 11.

In the Wee Hours of Sunday Morning I arrive, camera and notebook in hand, as scheduled. Dorian, Paul and I check in with security and sign the inevitable waivers. We took the elevator to the third floor, which is high-end office space and accessible to the public. Dorian gets out his keys, unlocks a door that reveals a steep staircase (the first of five) and I feel like I’ve stepped back 120 years.

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