The Day of Two Noons (Classic) Image

The Day of Two Noons (Classic)

10 May 2023 - 18 mins
Podcast Series Planet Money

(Note: this episode originally ran in 2019.)

In the 1800s, catching your train on time was no easy feat. Every town had its own "local time," based on the position of the sun in the sky. There were 23 local times in Indiana. 38 in Michigan. Sometimes the time changed every few minutes.

This created tons of confusion, and a few train crashes. But eventually, a high school principal, a scientist, and a railroad bureaucrat did something about it. They introduced time zones in the United States. It took some doing--they had to convince all the major cities to go along with it, get over some objections that the railroads were stepping on "God's time," and figure out how to tell everyone what t...

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