Bern, Zeitglockenturm

This exceptionally lovely gate-cum-clocktower completes the enclosure of this space.

The investment of what even today would be a large sum in the construction of the clock announces to the world that this is an important space, although this is but one of the major squares in medieval Bern.

Probably the only significant change in this scene during the century preceding the taking of this photograph was the laying of the tram rails. Since the tram was horse-drawn, it was not then necessary to string wires overhead. The advent of fuel-cell power may soon permit us to build trams that generate their electricity on board, thereby once again allowing us to dispense with wires. What an improvement that would bring, and what a cost savings!

It's worth noting that Washington, D.C., did not permit tram operators to string wires; the power for trams in Washington was supplied by an underground third-rail. This eliminated the overhead clutter, although at the cost of a serious hazard for bicyclists. The beauty of the capital was thought important enough to warrant the expense of underground power.

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Text ©2001-2002 J.Crawford