Photo: Roving Rube
03 February 25

Merchant's Bank Clock
Tower clock, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church , Midtown 

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Following are excerpts from FAPC's virtual tour of the church (which includes pictures of the clock works):

When the church was built here [in 1875], this part of Fifth Avenue was considered very far uptown and was in transition. At that time, upper Fifth Avenue was a dirt road on which resided mansions of wealthy families such as the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers. Our trustees believed Central Park to be the ultimate, natural barrier to the city's northward expansion.

Since the clock is not electrified, it has to be wound once a week by hand. ... The church doesn't have a bell or chimes. The reason? When the church was built, St. Luke's Hospital was located where the Peninsula hotel now stands, and it was felt that a carillon might disturb the patients.

The spire to the north [Fig. 3], called the fleche (pronounced flesh), was added one year after the rest of the church. It was removed in the 1920's due to concerns about the severe rusting of its cast iron. During the early 1990's a reproduction of the original fleche was made by the French company involved in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and placed back on the church.

The church is nestled amongst other buildings previously pictured on NYCJPG. In Fig 2, the Peninsula is on the left and the Crown Building on the right. The marble-paneled building in the background of Fig 3 is 712 Fifth Avenue.

Closeup Restore original From the South Arrow tower In Context