The Ginsburg clock, also known as the Park Lane clock, or Mall clock, was first installed in front of Ginsburg Jewelry Co., 133 N. Virginia St., in 1935. It remained there for decades before it was moved to the Park Lane Mall in 1967 and to its current location in front of Reno City Hall in 2012.
The clock was purchased from Joseph Mayer, a Seattle clockmaker, and reportedly also has parts made by the E. Howard Company, another prominent clockmaker from Boston. The E. Howard Company produced about 108,000 various designs of watch movements in the latter half of the 19th century. Production continued with existing parts into the 1920s.
Businesses, especially jewelers, were known to place these types of clocks outside their stores, supposedly so patrons could set their clocks as they exited. There was at least one other street clock downtown in the 1940s, located in front of L.C. Griffin, Inc. Jewelers, just across Virginia Street from Ginsburg's. However, as the only street clock remaining in the area, the Ginsburg clock is the last surviving local resource of its kind.
In addition to being a unique resource that is significant for its design and craftsmanship, the Ginsburg clock is also significant for its association with a storied local business and well-known businessman who helped to shape the commercial landscape of downtown Reno in the early- to mid-20th century. Harry Ginsburg, the clock’s namesake, was a prominent businessman in Reno. Born in Dobrovus, Russia in 1882, he immigrated to the United States with his wife, Anna Epp, in 1906. The couple spent two years in Denver before relocating to San Rafael, where Harry opened his first jewelry store. The Ginsburgs moved to Reno in 1914, purchasing the Golden Jewelry Store at Second and Virginia streets. They moved the store to its longtime location on 133 N. Virginia St. by 1921, where it became known as “one of the largest and best-known jewelry firms in this part of the country,” according to Ginsburg’s obituary published on June 8, 1954 in the Reno Evening Gazette.
The paper described Ginsburg as a “prominent business man in Reno for 40 years.” He was described as taking a “quiet active interest in civic affairs” and “one of the organizers and for years one of the strongest supporters of Temple Emmanu-El and of the Bnai Brith organization.” The family lived at 543 Ridge Street in Reno (see separate entry for the Ginsburg House), where Anna regularly hosted meetings of Reno’s Hadassah chapter, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. The Ginsburg Jewelry Co. operated under continuous family management until 1971.
In 1935, Ginsburg installed the 5,180-pound clock in front of his jewelry store. For decades, the clock remained a recognizable and celebrated landmark in downtown Reno before it was moved to the Park Lane Mall. The clock was described as a centerpiece of the mall. On March 6, 1967, the Reno Evening Gazette reported: “Kathy Blaikie, Miss Nevada of 1966, will ‘christen’ the clock with a bottle of champagne for the official opening” of the mall.
After the Park Lane Mall closed, Reno mayor Bob Cashell led an effort in 2007 to save the clock and, according to the Reno Gazette Journal, talked the M&H Realty Partners of San Francisco into donating it to the city. It was packed into seven boxes and kept in storage until a plan could be formulated to reinstall it somewhere.
In 2012, Bill Thornton, co-owner of the Club Cal-Neva, and Tim Healion, local restaurant owner of Laughing Planet, worked to have the clock restored by Electric Time Co. in Massachusetts. The restoration was part of a gift to the city for Club Cal Neva’s 50th anniversary. The Ginsburg Clock was added to the City of Reno's Register of Historic Places in 2019.