Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how on November 18th 1883, the U.S., and Canada adopted a system of standard time zones.
If you’re like me I don’t really think about time zones unless it Daylight Saving time and I have put my clock back an hour, but how did this time zone idea really start?
Before clocks were invented, people kept time using different instruments to observe the Sun’s zenith at noon. The earliest time measuring devices we know of are sun dials and water clocks.
Dawn and dusk occur at different times but time differences between distant locations were barely noticeable prior to the 19th century because of long travel times and the (lack of) long-distance communications.
American railroads maintained many different time zones during the late 1800s. Each train station set its own clock making it difficult to coordinate train schedules and confusing passengers. Time calculation became a serious problem for people travelling by train.
Operators of the new railroad lines needed a new time plan that would offer a uniform train schedule for departures and arrivals. Four standard time zones for the continental United States were introduced on November 18, 1883. Britain, which already adopted its own standard time system for England, Scotland, and Wales, helped gather international consensus for global time zones in 1884.
Standard time, in terms of time zones, was not established in United States law until the Act of March 19, 1918, sometimes called the Standard Time Act. The act also established daylight saving time in the nation. Daylight saving time was repealed in 1919, but standard time in time zones remained in law, with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) having the authority over time zone boundaries.
Who invented Daylight Savings Time?
New Zealander George Hudson proposed the modern idea of daylight saving in 1895.
Broadly speaking, Daylight Saving Time was abandoned in the years after the war (with some notable exceptions including Canada, the UK, France, and Ireland for example). However, it was brought back for periods of time in many different places during the following decades, and commonly during the Second World War. It became widely adopted, particularly in North America and Europe starting in the 1970s as a result of the 1970s energy crisis, which is why it’s still used today.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell