Can you imagine more than 4,000 people pouring out of a huge factory at the end of a work day? The throng of workers filled both sidewalks and all of the street in between as they headed home or downtown to shop. Street cars and automobiles were engulfed by the mass exodus and the air was filled with sounds of excitement. Well, that's how it was right here on National Street in the 1920s. The factory was the Elgin National Watch Company and it was located where the Clock Tower Shopping Center is today. The factory was part of the world's largest watchmaking complex which also included a boarding house for employees, a school to train repairmen, and an observatory to time the watches by the movement of the stars.
The factory stood on this site from 1865 to 1966. There are few pieces of it still here. Those large granite gate posts that flank the shopping center entrance were once part of the factory's front gate. The small train depot about a block east of here on National Street is another reminder of the time. And, the Observatory is not far from here, it's still at the intersection of Raymond and Watch Streets.
If you have a minute, checkout the historical marker by the shopping center entrance driveway. And take a look at the window displays in the train depot.