The Yorkville Clock at 1501 3rd Avenue and East 85th Street has been here since 1898 — lasting an entire century and parts of two others. Like many other sidewalk clocks it originally promoted a jeweler’s, in this case The Adolph Stern store. It was manufactured by the E. Howard Clock Company, and was designated a NYC landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1981. That did not prevent its temporary removal, however — in 1985, a city employee mistakenly sold the clock as surplus to a Long Island collector. The Koch administration tracked it down and by 1989 it was back in service, this time next to a McDonalds. To celebrate its first century in service, in 1999 the pocketwatch-inspired clock received a complete overhaul and has kept perfect time ever since.
Note that as with most clocks using Roman numerals, “4” is rendered as “IIII” instead of the “IV” used in original Roman script. Can anyone tell me how this tradition got started?
The most plausible thing I’ve heard is that early clockmakers didn’t want people to mix up the IV and VI, so they substituted the IIII.