The tall green and gold clock perched so elegantly outside Kansas City’s Union Station landed there in its middle age.
The clock first appeared in Kansas City in the mid-1880s, where it was installed at the corner of 10th and Main. In 1918, it moved a few blocks away and was installed in front of the Mace Jewelers storefront. Finally, in 1936, it moved to its current spot in front of Union Station.
Union Station opened in 1914 and, in its early days, no one would have thought to add more bells and whistles. It had replaced a small Union Depot, and there were still so few travelers coming through Kansas City that townspeople found the new and imposing Beaux-Arts station completely ridiculous. Some even called it the “Jackson County Insane Asylum.”
But the city changed quickly. Soon, nearly 200 trains were passing through here every day and a million people passed through the station at its peak, during World War II. The clock stood steadily outside, privy to thousands of hellos and goodbyes, until the station closed in the 1980s. It’s now a multipurpose development and exhibition hall, though Amtrak maintains a station for travel aboard the Missouri River Runner (St. Louis-Kansas City) and the Southwest Chief (Chicago-Los Angeles).
After more than a century outdoors, the elements took their toll on the lamppost. In 2015, the top section simply fell away from the rest of the clock body. Fortunately, in 2016, a private foundation put up $50,000 for the clock’s restoration. It was reinstalled in June of that year. The lamppost’s original internal mechanisms from the 1880s have been restored as well and are now on display separately inside Union Station’s Science City.