Photo: Roving Rube
03 February 24

Yorkville (Lost Weekend) Clock
Yorkville (Lost Weekend) Clock, Upper East Side 

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Following are excerpts from an article by NYC preservationist Margot Gayle (full text posted on Save America's Clocks):

The old clock, formerly in the shadow of the Third Avenue elevated railroad, was a community favorite from the day in 1898 when Adolph Stern had it set up in front of his jewelry store at 1508 Third Avenue, NW corner of 85th Street, where a 36-story Park Lane Towers apartment house now stands. In 1923 Sterns Store, having added a pawn shop, moved with its clock across the street to 1501 Third Avenue, between 84th and 85th Streets. A memorable 1945 motion picture, "The Lost Weekend," shows an inebriated Ray Milland clinging to the clock as an elevated train rumbles overhead ...

About a hundred years after it first appeared on Third Avenue, the Yorkville Clock, by this time owned by Reimann & Breese Furniture Store, had a quixotic experience. In 1985, a city employee mistakenly sold it as surplus city property to a clock devotee named Frank Dorsa who planned to display it in his family's collection in Muttontown, Long Island. When Dorsa went to Reimann & Breese hoping to locate missing clock pieces, he was almost arrested as a thief. Only his bill of sale saved him. Apprised of the unfortunate sale, Mayor Edward Koch's special assistant, Herbert Rickman, negotiated the clock's return and also the reimbursement to the Dorsa family ...

An antique dealer named Louis Agrusa volunteered to refurbish the old clock. The cost of materials and equipment came to more than $10,000, raised from many local donors, among them the clock owner Leo Davenport, the weekly newspaper Our Town and neighborhood clock ally, Cynthia Crane, who had loved the clock since childhood. Hailed as "the comeback clock", the historic timepiece, re-erected at its old location, was unveiled ceremoniously on February 23, 1989.

By the late 90's the clock was again imperiled, and the story of its rescue (and why the nearby Parade Shoes and McDonald's shortened their awnings, as shown in Context) is told in Tom Bernardin's interview with Franny Eberhart on Save America's Clocks' Yorkville Clock page.

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