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Seattle Sketcher

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

July 29, 2009 at 5:10 PM

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Iconic PEMCO clock hits 100 degrees while I sketch it

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

pemcoonehundred072909m.jpg

pemconinetyeight072909s.jpgClick on images to see larger version

The iconic PEMCO building clock hit 100 degrees at 2:58 p.m. this afternoon, a tie of the all-time high temperature recorded in Seattle in 1941 and 1994. A new record of 103 degrees was recorded later today at the airport.

I was almost done with my sketch and ready to give up on drawing the "100" when the three digits finally showed up. Jon Osterberg, a marketing communications manager at the insurance company, was also on the street ready to take a photo that he planned to use for the company newsletter. "We might never see this again," he said.

Before I did the sketch I had been up on the roof of the building with PEMCO's property manager Mike Mitchell and assistant engineer Ed Davis. They make sure the two 5 feet by 10 feet clocks --one facing north and another one facing south-- are always functioning. "If it goes down for any period of time our phones start ringing," Mitchell said. The clocks are highly visible from I-5 and Capitol Hill buildings facing west.

The first thing residents in those apartments do when they get up in the morning is look at the clock, explained Paul Chen, PEMCO's chief engineer. He said they get multiple callers when something doesn't seem right. Chen said the building got its first clock back in the mid 1980s and the current ones, which are controlled from a PC and can display graphics, were installed in 2005.

As hot as it was during my walk around town today -- I'll post more sketches tomorrow -- I find these temperatures more bearable than the humid summer months on the East Coast, where I was three years ago. But I may be the exception.

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