Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inside The Tower

Yesterday, I showed a view of and some of the views from the Old Post Office tower in Washington, DC. Today I've got some shots of what's actually inside the tower, or at least on one of the more interesting levels. Beneath the observation deck is the secret workings that make the big clock faces on the four sides of the tower work. There was a simple looking clock on the same floor as the observation deck, but I didn't realize that it wasn't as simple as it looked. Evidently, it's clockwork motions were transferred down through the floor and into the gearbox in the center of this room. Then four shafts split off to the four clock faces and operate the minute and hour hands outside. That way, all four clocks always show the same time.

Directly beneath the clockwork bits lie the Bells of Congress. They are supposedly exact replicas of the bells at Westminster Abbey. I've never been to Westminster Abbey, so I can't confirm that. These bells are rung by hand from ropes down inside the tower, and not by any of the clockwork mechanism as you might expect. Evidently they have a local bell-ringing club that meets once a week (visitors welcome, but you do not get to ring the bells).

The sound from the bells has no where to go but up, and when it gets up, it bounces off the four sides of the pyramid shaped ceiling.

And each side of that pyramid directs the reflected sound out one of the clock faces, which just happen to be louvered to allow that sound out. I didn't notice from outside that the faces are louvered, but I guess all this is to make it sound as if the clock faces themselves are ringing.

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