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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

June 11, 2009 at 2:34 PM

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Time to honor Seattle clocks

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

June 9, 10:29 a.m. [View larger] [Map]

You may have seen this clock at Pike Street and 4th Avenue, but did you know about the other 26 scattered downtown?

Robert Ketcherside, 35, a program manager at Microsoft, has been cataloguing every street clock in Seattle since 2004. His Seattle Clock Walk page online may be the best-kept tourist secret about our city, which at some point had "the country's best collection of historic clocks," he said.

The Ben Bridge clock is the last of a number of jewelry-store clocks that lined Pike Street near the intersection of 4th Avenue in the 1920s. It is also one of 10 that were designated as historic landmarks in 1980, along with the Carroll's Jewelry clock that was moved last year to the Museum of History and Industry in Montlake.

Ketcherside, who grew up in Burien, became interested in downtown street clocks years ago when he started relying on them during his commute. "I didn't wear a watch. The only use for it was for people to ask you what time it was," he said. During his bus rides downtown he spotted several clocks along 5th Avenue. "The first was the one at the Times Square building," he recalls. "The bank across the street has mirror windows and I could see it no matter what side of the bus I was on."

He doesn't know if anybody has done his website's tour of clocks. But many may be doing it soon. Roberta Miner, the tours director at the Seattle Architecture Foundation, is working together with Ketcherside to add his clock walk to the list of tours offered by the foundation. They get about 5,000 guests a year. "We're hoping that we can put the tour together in 2010. We are very enthusiastic about it," she said.

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