Photo originally published Sept. 29, 1989
Time has been on the side of Minneapolis City Hall since 1916.
The original municipal structure, designed by local architects Franklin Long and Frederick Kees, was built between 1889 and 1906. But the clock tower wasn't built until nearly a decade later.
While the pink granite structure, built to house both city and county functions, is beautiful both inside and out, it's the clock tower that's standing tall.
The tower, which soars 345 feet above ground, was the tallest structure in the city until the Foshay Tower was built in the 1920s. The clock itself is 24 feet, 4 inches in diameter and is said to be the world's largest four-faced chiming clock — even bigger than London's Big Ben.
The Minneapolis clock was originally made of glass panel faces and had copper hands that were more than 14 feet long. When cracks were discovered in the glass in 1949, it was replaced with ceramic and the copper hands with stainless steel. Red neon tubing was added to the hands to make them more visible.
As time went on, the clock started to deteriorate and, after more than 100 years of service, significant repairs were needed.
Another restoration project, completed in 2017, took some heavy lifting. The clock's steel frame was replaced with cast aluminum, the red neon lights were replaced with more "historically accurate" but energy-efficient backlighting, and the ceramic clock faces were replaced with frosted glass similar to the original glass. (The ceramic was made available to local artists.)
The project, which took nine months, returned the clock tower to its original glory.
"We are living up to our responsibility to restore this clock," said then-Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.
The building is designated a city landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The Municipal Building Commission has served as the steward for the building since its construction. See its beauty for yourself: Free tours are available. For more information, go to municipal buildingcommission.org.