Now you can tell just how much time you’re spending watching the sun set over Lake Erie, if you’re sitting by the new clock tower in Hamburg, that is.
The 35-foot tower, with a clock on each of its four sides, was completed this summer and sits as the gateway to Hamburg’s lakefront residential community. It was built at the intersection of Lake Shore (Route 5), Big Tree and Hoover roads, next to Hoak’s Restaurant.
“People do stop and visit, some come in,” said Ed Hoak, who owns the restaurant.
Speaking of time, funding for the tower dates back about a decade. Former Rep. Jack Quinn secured the $400,000 federal highway grant back when he represented the area in Congress. It was to be used for traffic calming purposes along that section of the road. Quinn retired from office in 2004, and Rep. Brian Higgins was representing the area when the money was appropriated, town officials said.
“One of the recommendations of the traffic calming study was to do a gateway entrance feature,” said Hamburg Town Engineer Gerard M. Kapsiak.
He said it took some time to come up with a concept and final plans.
“It probably took a few more years than we wanted to,” he said. “I think it came out good.”
The construction also improved the parking area. Hoak’s had leased a section of the lot near Hoover Road, and that’s the end where the tower was built, benches were erected and landscaping planted. While it is picturesque, the general public cannot go up in the tower.
Historical markers are placed on three sides of the tower. One outlines Alhambra on the Lake, a restaurant built on the site in 1925 that was popular for dining, dancing, and entertainment in the 1940s. The Alhambra was destroyed by fire on April 14, 1954. Another plaque honors Aaron Salisbury, a pioneer who opened fire on the British Navy in Lake Erie from the Hamburg shore during the War of 1812. He kept the British from coming to shore to loot local farms. Salisbury went on to become supervisor of the Town of Evans and a state assemblyman.
The third plaque tells the fate of Lightship LV82, which was built in July 1912 and stationed in the eastern basin of Lake Erie in August 1913. A winter storm with winds reaching 80 mph hit Lake Erie Nov. 10, 1913, and the six sailors aboard perished. Pieces of the ship started washing up on shore the day after the storm.
“People get out of their cars,” Hoak said. “You can see them reading the historical plaques. I think it’s great.”
Kapsiak said the tower was built to withstand 90 mph winds.
“It should be there for a long time,” Kapsiak said.
Hoak’s restaurant, which sits at the edge of the lake, has survived a number of storms through the years. Hoak said there have been some heavy storms in the last month, too, and the new construction has held up.
And while he expects the restaurant and the clock tower to be around for a long time, “Unlike Russ Salvatore,” Hoak said, “I’m not going to be buried in it.”