November 18, 1883 is when railroads across the United States adopted a uniform system of time, more or less getting all of us in sync with each other. But what was time like before then? Plus: Japan has had cat cafes, hedgehog cafes and bunny cafes. Now there’s a minipig cafe!
Time! (Library of Congress)
Standard Time Zones In U.S. Mark 100 Years (New York Times)
The Adoption of Standard TimeIan R. Bartky (Technology and Culture)
This Monday, November 18th, is the anniversary of the day in 1883 when railroads across the United States adopted a uniform system of time.
In our time, when we can schedule our lives down to the second, it can be hard to even imagine the idea that different parts of the world weren’t in sync with each other.
But that’s how it was. People would set their clocks to the sun. When it was highest above, that was noon.
Towns set up their own large clocks to ring out so everyone in the area would have an agreed upon time.
That was especially important as factories grew, because they needed workers to show up at particular times.
But those individual town times didn’t match up with each other.
There had long been a push from astronomers and geophysicists to make hours, minutes and seconds more standard.
But it also stood to reason that we could more easily and safely get trains and people where they needed to go if we all agreed on when they were going.
Standard Railway Time established four time zones across the country, each offset by one hour from the ones nearest to them.
The transition went pretty smoothly in most places, but there were a few holdouts, like the city of Cincinnati, which continued to use its own time for seven more years.
But was that seven years in Cincinnati time or in Standard Railway Time?
The world of cafes just got a lot cuter.
Cat cafes have been around for a while now, and in Japan, there have been other animal-themed gathering spots that have included bunnies and hedgehogs.
Now there’s a micropig cafe in Tokyo, and it appears to be made of brick, so the Big Bad Wolf can’t blow it down.