Monday Open Line


This month in 1883, the ancestor of today’s familiar U.S. time zones first appeared at the initiative of the American Railway Association. A schoolteacher named Charles Dowd is credited with first proposing the notion of time zones as early as 1863 in order to rationalize railroad timetables, there being 80 time standards then in use by localities. There was wide but incomplete acceptance of the railway association’s zones, and the adjusted zones were not made law until 1918. In 1884, delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, D.C., and established a standard system of 24 time zones around the world. Making timepieces is about a $307 million a year business for 94 establishments in the U.S., employing some 1,600 people. Profile America is in its19th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.