The City Clock: An American Landmark

BY Taylor Rebhan

“I’ll meet you under the Kern’s clock.”
Before the era of cellphones and easy communication, people coordinated meet ups using landmark locations and very specific times. The Kern’s Clock in downtown Detroit provided the convenience of being a landmark whose very function was telling time.

With its debut in 1933, the Kern City Clock graced the entrance to the Ernst Kern Company Department Store on Gratiot and Woodward, where it became such a popular meeting place that it soon became synonymous with the phrase “I’ll meet you under the Kern’s clock.” It remained as a meeting destination until 1959 when the Kern’s store was sold and shut its doors. In 1966, the Kern’s building was demolished, and the Kern’s Clock itself was stored away until the 1970’s. It was then moved to a new location but again stored away until 2003, when the Compuware Corporation reinstalled it at its original home on Gratiot and Woodward, where its legacy still resonates among Detroiters.

Shinola City Clocks in Detroit

In honor of the significance of the City Clock as an American landmark, and as homage to Detroit’s history, we’ve proudly installed Shinola City Clocks in four prominent locations throughout our hometown:

Midtown – by the Shinola Detroit Store on Canfield and Cass

College for Creative Studies – at the Argonaut Building/Taubman Center and Shinola Detroit HQ

Cobo Center – in Downtown Detroit

Eastern Market – at Shed 3 in Detroit’s famed urban market

Each Shinola City Clock, created in the style of our future pocket watch design, is cased in stainless steel, has a diameter of more than 3-feet and stands mounted at 13-feet. These clocks are a gesture of our appreciation for a city brimming with rich community heritage.

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