If you’re anything like me, a little child still resides in your heart, excited to pop out when the world manages to amaze an experienced and jaded mind. This child oohs and aahs at simple mechanics and perfect patterns, tiny memories of less complicated times.
My younger self found a rare treat in Gastown, Vancouver, and for a few minutes, I could enjoy the classic engineering of steam.
The steam clock that can be found in this rustic shopping neighborhood is akin to a Rube Goldberg project, a chain lifting weighted balls that zoom along tracks, all triggering blasts of steam every quarter hour. The entire mechanism is enclosed with glass, allowing a view of the inner workings obstructed only by other curious onlookers.
It was fascinating to watch it work. Fun fact: it was built to convert an unsightly steam vent in a popular sidewalk into a more attractive fixture. We happened upon this treasure, though it would be worth making a dedicated detour. Try to catch the hour if you can. The child in you will thank you for it.. and probably excitedly describe it to all who will listen thereafter.