When the Spitz jewelry store opened in 1881, a giant pocket watch was the perfect publicity ploy. Potential customers could spot the enormous timepiece from afar, but there was only one problem: it didn’t really tell the time. At the turn of the century, it was decided that a working clock might be a better idea, so the Spitz clock was replaced with a working version.

In 1915, people were speechless when the city’s first motor truck circled the square, but there were screams and screams as the driver struggled to control his four-wheeled machine. It crashed into the Spitz clock, sending it into the dust. Determined not to give up, jeweler Salamon Spitz bought another used clock in Kansas City.

The new clock was also built by E. Howard and Company, whose oversized clocks have been seen in city squares across America. This would be the last clock with its original gears. All the others have been converted to electricity, while this one has yet to be reassembled. Visitors listening intently might hear the gears creaking inside.

This third clock avoided being melted down for scrap metal during World War II, and it sat outside the store for about 50 years until it closed to make way for a new addition to its place in 1967. The clock remained in storage for seven years until the next generation Bernard Spitz donated it to the city and was erected just off the square at the corner of Palace and Lincoln avenues in 1974.

Despite the glittery gold leaf gilding and occasional restorations, both sides look rather worn and dirty these days. Officials can debate expenses for renovations, replacement or just donation to the local museum. But for locals and tourists alike, it’s a beloved landmark.

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