Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Doors Open Milwaukee: Allen-Bradley Clock Tower

We didn't have much time for Doors Open Milwaukee this year, but decided to make time for one site: one of Milwaukee's most iconic and hard-to-access landmarks, the clock tower at the Allen-Bradley(now Rockwell Automation) plant that dominates the south side skyline.

The tour took us through the impressive wood-paneled lobby of the main building, and up an elevator seventeen floors. Although few people know it, I was aware that there was a Board of Directors meeting room at the top of the tower ABOVE the clock faces, and this was our destination. I was a bit disappointed that the trip did not include the clock mechanism, but after a moment's thought, I realized that there would not be much to see. Allen-Bradley/Rockwell are manufacturers of electrical controls after all, so the clock has to be electrically driven and consist of a large electric motor and drives. (Not that there's that much to see in most clocks, actually: even the works for the "great clock" of Big Ben, while interesting, take up only about as much space as a large car. No ten-foot gearwheels involved--.)

However, the trip was well worth it, as the all-round windows give a spectacular panoramic view that, in some ways, is superior to that of the 40-story US Bank building downtown. While much of the same area is visible from the bank tower, there is something about the lower angle that is more interesting. At forty stories, the view down on nearby streets and buildings is pretty much straight down and it's hard to make out anything but rooftops. At the lower altitude there's much more of a 3-D view at there range where it's close enough to see details. from the clock tower, there was a very good overview of the "port of Milwaukee," and views of south side landmarks like St. Joseph's Basilica, St. Luke's Hospital, "the Domes", and the Froedert Malt grain elevators that mark our neighborhood. It was interesting to see how visible buildings like the Journal/Sentinel printing plant and West Allis Memorial Hospital were.

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