'Meet me under the Kaufmann’s Clock'


Courtesy of the Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center
The Kaufmann Clock located in downtown Pittsburgh, has been a "landmark" in the area for over 100 years.


By Tara Bailey


-Did You Know?-


Did you know the Kaufmann’s Clock downtown is designated as a Pittsburgh historical landmark? For generations, it has been a time-honored tradition to meet under the clock.

Myths and folklore about marriage proposals and happily ever afters under the clock inspire nostalgia. The Kaufmann’s clock is not only historically significant, but it has also ingrained itself into the lives of over a million Pittsburghers in some form or another.


Did you know all of the colorful stories that began when people met under Kaufmann’s Clock? Its popularity is not just because Pittsburghers are infamous for not knowing street names and depend on landmarks for directions!


The clock is the hotspot to meet a blind date, link up with friends, wait for a ride home after work, get someone’s phone number, or the most notorious reason — to squabble with a friend or foe.


The most notable squabble occurred between councilwoman Michelle Madoff and her nemesis Eugene “Jeep” DePasquale in 1982.


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the contentious topic was over suburbanites who used city addresses to voluntarily pay $40 a year to help contribute. DePasquale promised Madoff he would meet her under the Kaufmann’s clock and kiss her…if she collected so much as $20. To his chagrin, Madoff collected $1,500 in checks.


If the clock could talk, it would no doubt have more tales of vicious fights and perilous love stories.


Did you know the Kaufmann’s clock had a predecessor? On the corner of Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street, the current clock replaced a four-faced free-standing Kaufmann's Department Store clock in 1913 (historicpittsburgh.org). The bronze-Victorian timepiece we see today has hung proudly through prohibition, the flood of 1936, the Great Depression, the blizzard of 1993, five Penguins Stanley Cup wins, six Steelers Super Bowl wins, and COVID-19. It will probably withstand any future zombie apocalypse action, too.


Did you know the clock is immortalized in paintings by well-known Pittsburgh artist Linda Barnicott? Her whimsical painting of the clock captures a festive holiday season in Pittsburgh and showcases a spectacular Kaufmann’s window display.


The holiday displays were once a familiar holiday attraction causing parents to bring their children into the city to take in the splendor.

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