Gloria Clock & Carioca Time

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Following the previous post on Rio’s old public clocks, I wanted to do a quick post on the German-made Krussman clock in Glória as it is not only the oldest free-standing clock in Rio but the most valuable (it still has all its original pieces). The four clock faces, by the way, allow the pedestrian to see the time from any cardinal direction and this created a relationship between the average citizen and the keeping of time. It’s likely this connection was a natural extension of the government’s preocupation with keeping time, stemming from the fact that doing so was essential to ship navigation.

Returning to the Glória clock, it was installed by the Pereira Passos government in April of 1905 as part of the process of landfilling the old Lapa beach. The electricity to make it run was uniquely supplied by the Botanical Garden Railroad Co., whose tram line ran past it.

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Above, you can see the transformation of Glória from the first years of the 1900s (left), when the sea practically brushed up against the clock, to the transformations that had taken place already by 1922 (right), the same year Hotel Glória was opened.

– Sources (one, two, three)

rel gloria relgiodaglria1920GloBonde1910relogio_gloria


We’re all familiar with Carioca time…that is, being late for meetings, appointments, and get-togethers. But what how was the Carioca’s relationship with time 100 years ago? Read on to find out.

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Is Your Clock Right?
The time difference in Rio de Janeiro
Each clock has its own

If there were a curious person stopping you on the corner and were to ask each person with a watch — “What time is it?”, they’d be a bit lost.

Each clock keeps its own time, like each individual has their own opinion about time zones. The proof for this inconsistency of time with clocks is proven by entering a clock shop: where there’s not a clock on the same time!

[…] Is the time inequality among us influenced by, and the cause of, the inequality we live in? Who knows?

On the Estrada de Ferro itself the clocks aren’t regulated. And there, they have someone specially put in charge of setting the clocks. This makes Mr. Dr. Morize, director of our Observatory, uncomfortable and thus he is always in favor of a means for which the pendulums regulate the time of the Castello.

leilao_rio09a(Now-demolished Morro do Castelo, where the National Observatory was located. The Observatory signaled the official time via a balloon; see link below)

Long ago, the correct time was a sure thing. The good regulators were like good talking parrots: they had the best asking prices. There was, for example, a house on Rua do Ouvidor, Ao Colosso de Rhodes, that possessed a balloon (rather like a time ball) to correctly signal midday. It was the Colosso and the Castello that offerred the Carioca public the right time.

This ended. Now there’s a new place on Rua Uruguayana that supplies the Observatory’s correct time. Despite this, the clocks are completely crazy. A quick look at the exposed clocks in the city gives us strange information. One can verify that the official clocks compete with the times at Central Station and the Light Co.

Taking the Castello time as a basis, we arrive at the conclusion that, when midday comes, the clocks below will say:

Relogio Hora Certa 08-26-11

That’s disorganized organization! Fortunately, time zones will come put all the times on an axis or will make it so that, once and for all, no one will know what time it is!…


1. Source (Newspaper A Noite, August 1911). 2/3. Untranslated articles, from A Noite in 1911, about when Brazil first started using time zones (click to enlarge). 4. A joke about time zones from the same source and date.

Relogio Hora Certa 08-26-11 copy  Hora Universal 08-24-11 Questao da Hora 08-23-11Fuso-Horario 08-24-11

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