Landmark That Tells Temperature and Time


Anyone who has spent any time in Milwaukee is familiar with the large, looming clock tower that looks out over the city and shares the time and the temperature. The Allen Bradley Clocktower is a Milwaukee landmark that has been in existance since 1962. The clock is a part of the Rockwell Automation Companies headquarters. The building actually feautres two towers, one for temperature and the taller one for time. The current temperature tower was originally a clock-only tower, but in the mid-1970's, this was converted to temperature and a taller tower was constructed with the clock faces. The clocktower stands at 283 feet and holds the Guiness World Record for the largest four-faced clock. The owners of the tower decided to not add chimes in order to allow the Big Ben Clocktower in England to continue to hold the world record for tallest chiming clocktower.

The hour hands of the Allen Bradley clocktower are 15.8 feet high and they weight 490 pounds. Local Milwaukee residents used to refer to the clocktower as The Polish Moon, but over the years, the name has transitioned to reflect the changing neighbhorhood in which it resides. It is now occasionally called The Mexican Moon by local residents.

The tower has frequently been used by mariners on Lake Michigan to navigate their journey. The tower can be seen from several miles away, allowing them to determine the direction and distance to landfall in Milwaukee. The tower is lit by several hundred high output flourescent tubes, requiring 34.6 kilowatts of electricity. During the oil crisis of 1973 and 1974 the tower went dark. Each face of the clock is independently operated by an individual gearbox. Each of the gearboxes runs with two motors.

The Rockwell Automation company began in 1903 as the Allen-Bradley Company with an investment of $1,000 from Lynde Allen and Dr. Standton Allen. One of the first commercially manufactured Allen-Bradley brand of crane controllers was exhibited at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. The company continued to grow throughout the century, supplying machinery for both World Wars and a variety of other national defense missions. In 1969, Allen-Bradley opened a branch in England, which was the company's first internation business endeavor. In 1985, Rockwell International purchases Allen-Bradley, who was the North American leader in the industrial automation equipment market, for $1.651 billion. This was the largest business acquisition in Wisconsin's history at the time. Rockwell continued to buy companies and in 2001, became a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange as ROK. Today, Rockwell continues to grow and remains one of Milwaukee's strongest and most well-known companies.

Those visiting Milwaukee will want to take time to photograph the clocktower. It is easy to see from most areas of the city, but the southside offers the best vantage point. Those visiting Milwaukee are also encouraged to include the clocktower in any panoramic shots they may take of the Milwaukee skyline. The area surrounding the clocktower is relatively safe, and makes for a great evening of Mexican food and margaritas, following a quick observation of the clocktower.

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