Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uptown Village Clock

The city of Vancouver, WA turns out to have a public art program, obviously much smaller than Portland's. One of the items listed is a free-standing retro clock at 2500 Main St, in Vancouver's Uptown Village neighborhood. The city's description:

Aluminum and fiberglass clock created by the Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The clock was installed in 1998 in partnership with the Vancouver Housing Authority, expressing the VHA's commitment to high quality urban design.

The manufacturer's page about clocks explains that this is called a "post clock", which are available with either 2 or 4 clock faces. Apparently their designs are customizable, which looks to be what Vancouver did here. Their design-your-own-clock page seems to indicate this is the Courtyard model, with the Arabic clock face (but a custom dial), the black color option, with the optional gold highlights, and maybe a custom header. At that point the form asks for contact info so a sales rep can contact you. I didn't take my research quite that far, so I'm not sure what one of these bad boys would cost, much less what it would have cost in 1998.

I was kind of disappointed to see that all their available clock options are retro looks from the 19th and early 20th centuries. There's nothing in an Art Deco or Midcentury look, or anything more contemporary, or even any steampunk retro designs. Kind of a missed opportunity, if you ask me. The design they went with does fit the neighborhood, though, and it looks like it belongs here, so it has that going for it.

Whether a clock ordered from a catalog counts as art or not is a philosophical question. My personal inclination is to say it isn't, but it was on the city of Vancouver's official list, so I figured it was in scope. It's also located right across the street from a Walgreens store, a store that happens to be the closest Washington pharmacy to the Oregon border, and therefore Portland's hookup for non-prescription Sudafed. So I'm in the area anyway now and then when allergies act up, and taking a couple of quick photos of the clock was pretty convenient. Also nearby, if you're so inclined, are a gas station (so you can pump your own gas, which is still illegal in Oregon), seasonal fireworks stands (also illegal in Oregon. I hate fireworks, though.), and one of Washington's first legal weed stores (also still illegal in Oregon, though that may change in November).

From the random anecdote department, here's something I ran across while looking for info about Vancouver's clock. The Canadian parliament building features a central clock tower known as the Peace Tower, which is a Canadian icon and features on the nation's $20 bill. It turns out the clock in the tower is a much larger Verdin product, and when it broke down in 2006, the government realized they had to bring in foreign experts from (gasp!) Cincinnati to fix it, causing yet another bout of national handwringing. The company website doesn't let you design clocks this big online ("big" meaning 5.4 meter clock faces), and obviously you'd have to talk to a sales rep (or more likely a whole room full of them) to figure out what one of these babies would set you back. But it's a four-face clock, and those always cost more.

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