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Meet Me Under the Kauffman’s Clock!

The Kaufmann Clock in downtown Pittsburgh

In this week’s “Where Ya At?” we explore the most iconic meeting spot in the ‘Burgh—the Kaufmann’s Clock at the corner of Smithfield & Fifth in downtown Pittsburgh.

“Meet me under the Kaufmann’s Clock,” is a phrase most Pittsburghers are familiar with. It has always been a well-known location for people to meet friends and family members before (and even after) shopping, eating, and attending events. 

Photo by historicpittsburgh.org

But did you know that there was a previous iteration of the clock? It was installed as a free-standing structure outside Kaufmann’s Department Store, nicknamed the Grand Depot or Big Store, in 1884.

When the department store expanded in 1913, the clock was removed creating a public outcry. Fortunately, owner Henry Kaufmann had the foresight to know the timeless value of the clock to his store’s brand. As a result, he commissioned the Coldwell Clock Company of New York to design and install a new 2,500-pound, Victorian-style brass clock that we all know and love. 

kaufmanns-clock-historic-landmark

Photo by historicpittsburgh.org

In 1981, the architectural masterpiece was declared an official landmark from the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

The clock received a $30,000 makeover in 1987 to restore it to its previous pristine condition—and it was about time! Ground corn cobs were used to blast away nearly 75 years of dirt buildup.

Like time itself, the clock just keeps on ticking. Macy’s replaced Kaufmann’s in 2006, but it was (and still) referred to as the Kaufmann’s Clock. Now that Target has replaced Macy’s in that location, it will forever live on as the Kaufmann’s Clock.

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