The elegant, historic 1907 Jessop’s Street Clock.

The elegant Jessop's Street Clock stands like a vision from the past at the center of San Diego's popular Horton Plaza.
The elegant Jessop’s Street Clock stands like a vision from the past at the center of San Diego’s popular Horton Plaza.

San Diego’s top tourist attraction in 1907 wasn’t a zoo, a park, a popular building or location. It was an amazing clock. Word traveled far and wide about the elegant, beautiful, one-of-a-kind Jessop’s Street Clock, which debuted that year in downtown San Diego.  San Diego at the time was a very small town.  The large clock stood on the sidewalk in front of the J. Jessop and Sons jewelry store at 952 Fifth Avenue.

The idea for this street clock sprang from the imagination of Joseph Jessop, a jeweler who immigrated to America from England. He’d seen many beautiful public clocks in Europe. especially in Switzerland. Joseph hired mechanic Claude D. Ledger to build the complex clock, which took fifteen months of meticulous, precise work to complete. The fine clock has almost never stopped working. One memorable day the clock did mysteriously stop–the same day that Claude died.

The Jessop’s Street Clock was first displayed at the 1907 Sacramento State Fair, where it was awarded a gold medal. (The large medal of real gold was stolen, and so was the first bronze replacement!) Since then the clock has occupied several different spots in San Diego. The clock stands 22 feet tall and features 20 separate dials and 300 moving parts. It has an estimated worth of several million dollars. Much of the shining movement is gold-plated. The elegant clock contains tourmaline, agate, topaz and jade, local gems extracted from the Jessop Mine on Mount Palomar.

Today the historic clock occupies a prominent position near the center of Horton Plaza, where many shoppers breeze by with hardly a glance. I suppose very few people realize the importance of this clock, and how at one time, over a century ago, it was one of San Diego’s most well-known landmarks.

Shoppers walk past the beautiful Jessop Street Clock, a landmark in downtown San Diego for over a hundred years.
Shoppers walk past the beautiful Jessop’s Street Clock, a landmark in downtown San Diego for over a hundred years.
Intricate, exquisite gold-plated movement of the historic Jessop's Street Clock. The massive mechanism extends twelve feet down into the Horton Plaza parking garage!
Intricate, exquisite gold-plated movement of the historic Jessop’s Street Clock. The massive mechanism extends twelve feet down into the Horton Plaza parking garage!
J. Jessop and Sons jewelers created this amazing clock, which over a century ago was San Diego's top attraction!
J. Jessop and Sons jewelers created this amazing clock, which over a century ago was San Diego’s top attraction!
Thousands of hours have been spent over the decades maintaining, rehabilitating, moving and reconstructing the fine clock.
Thousands of hours have been spent over the decades maintaining, rehabilitating, moving and reconstructing the fine clock.
The Jessops Street Clock was exhibited at the 1907 Sacramento State Fair. This is a bronze replica of the gold medal awarded to the master clock. The clock is property of the Jessop family.
The Jessops Street Clock was exhibited at the 1907 Sacramento State Fair. This is a bronze replica of the gold medal awarded to the master clock. The clock is property of the Jessop family.
Base of the 1907 Jessop Clock in downtown's Horton Plaza shopping mall. Plaque indicates Historical Landmark No. 372, The City of San Diego.
Base of the 1907 Jessop Clock in downtown’s Horton Plaza shopping mall. Plaque indicates Historical Landmark No. 372, The City of San Diego.
Twelve dials on one face tell time in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, St. Petersburg, Calcutta, Capetown, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Mexico City.
Twelve dials on one face tell time in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, St. Petersburg, Calcutta, Capetown, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Mexico City.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

7 thoughts on “The elegant, historic 1907 Jessop’s Street Clock.”

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