Bennett Memorial

Bennett Memorial

Bennett Memorial

Bennett's owls

In 1895, when pocket- and wristwatches were still luxury items, the clock atop the new two-story Renaissance-style Herald Building at Thirty-Fifth and Broadway rang the hours for workers in the neighborhood. Under the Greek goddess Athena's imperious gaze, Stuff and Guff (also known as Gog and Magog) swing a mallet at a bell, atop which sits an owl.

Athena was chosen for the Herald's clock not because she signifies wisdom or war, but because she's often accompanied by an owl. The younger James Gordon Bennett adored owls, as Harper's Weekly noted in 1893:

The owl is a jolly fetich of Mr. Bennett's, and is to be seen in every part of his private establishment - stuffed owls, bronze owls, painted owls, iron owls - on his yachts, his carriages, his note-paper, his coaches in various parts of France, and in his many residences. The bird that is awake and alert when all else is asleep is not a bad emblem for the Herald.

Even the Herald's masthead sported an owl. The cornice of the Herald Building was ringed with owls whose eyes blinked an eerie green through the New York nights. After the Herald Building was demolished in 1921 and a new architectural setting created for Athena and her henchmen, two of the owls were positioned on either side of it. Look for their blinking eyes after night falls.

Bennett owls green eyes

Owls on Bennett Memorial at dusk

Behind the Memorial is a small door with yet another owl, and the phrase "La nuit porte conseil" - "The night offers counsel," or "Sleep on it."

Bennett owl door

Door on back of the Bennett Memorial