How long has Daylight Saving Time been in use?
Daylight Savings Time
Can you please direct me to a record of the years in which daylight
savings time was observed in the
area over the past century?† I Chicago
understand that there was no uniform law until 1966, but I would like
to find out which years it was observed and which it was not.† Can you
Thank you for your inquiry.
As you may know, Daylight Saving Time [Note: officially, there is no letter "s" at the end of the word "Saving"] was first
proposed by Benjamin Franklin of
. However, it was a long time in coming. First, you needed standard time Philadelphia
zones before you could, practically, propose to add an hour to a particular time.
You may be interested to know that the dissemination of precise time signals, which was the precursor to standard time
zones, started in
[actually, the North Side, which was then the independent City of Pittsburgh ] around 1867! Of Allegheny
course, in this case, the precise time signals were transmitted by telegraph.
In 1867 Samuel Pierpont Langley was hired as the new Professor of Astronomy at the Western University of Pennsylvania [now
] and Director of the Allegheny Observatory. The original Allegheny Observatory, which was Universityof Pittsburgh
founded in 1859, was located on "Old Observatory Hill" [now called Perry Hilltop], approximately between the current
and Triangle Tech [Triangle Tech is located on the former campus of the Western Clayton Elementary School ]. Universityof Pennsylvania
Professor Langley had a very small budget to use for his astronomical research at the Allegheny Observatory. So, he
devised a very unique way to supplement his budget--he sold time!!!
At that time, the only real way of setting a clock or a watch was by a sundial--which was not terribly accurate. And,
there were no time zones; each city had their own time! This wreaked havoc, particularly on railroad schedules.
So, Professor Langley, who later went on to become Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution [the highest scientific
appointment in the nation, at that time] and conducted early research into heavier-than-air powered flight, used a special
"transit" telescope to attain the exact time from the stars. He then set-up a special telegraph instrument to send that
time to whomever would subscribe to his service.
Many railroads quickly subscribed to this service, to better regulate the scheduling of their trains. "Allegheny Time"
became known throughout much of the country as the primary time standard!
And, in addition to the railroads, both the City of
and the City of Pittsburgh subscribed to Professor Langley's Allegheny
time service, for the setting of the official city clocks.
Allegheny Time led to the establishment of the standard time zones, first set-up by the railroads [at on 1883
November 18], and later enacted into Federal law [Standard Time Act of 1918, enacted on March 19].
, William Willett began urging the adoption of Daylight Saving Time in 1907. During World War I Daylight Saving England
Time was adopted by several European countries, including
, England , and even France . Germany
, Robert Garland of United States promoted the introduction and passage of Daylight Saving Time Pittsburgh
legislation, which was enacted into law on 1918 March 19 [the same Federal Act which established Standard Time Zones],
just as the
was entering World War I. United States
However, in 1919, after the War ended, the Daylight Saving Time portion of this legislation was repealed, as it had been
extremely unpopular. Apparently, most people [particularly farmers] rose earlier and went to bed earlier than they do
today. Not only did Congress vote to repeal Daylight Saving Time in 1919, they also overrode a veto, by President Woodrow
, of the repeal legislation! Wilson
From then on, Daylight Saving Time became a local option. A few states, such as
and Massachusetts , continued Rhode Island
Daylight Saving Time, as did some cities such as
, New York , and Philadelphia . Chicago
President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round Daylight Saving Time, known as "War Time." World War II, U.S.
War Time was in effect from 1942 February 2 until 1945 September 30. After the War, again, localities were free to
determine whether to continue using Daylight Saving Time.
Many municipalities did continue to use Daylight Saving Time, and many did not. And, the beginning and ending dates, each
year, of Daylight Saving Time often varied from one community to another. This became very confusing, and very costly for
some industries--particularly transportation industries such as the railroads, bus companies, and airlines, and also for
radio and television broadcasters.
Often, transportation companies and broadcasters had to publish different schedules for different cities and towns. The
transportation industry formed an organization, the Committee for Time Uniformity, which lobbied to set uniform schedules
for Daylight Saving Time.
This committee noted that for a bus route traveling a 35-mile section of West Virginia Route 2, between
, the driver and passengers had to endure seven time changes! And, at one time, for exactly Moundsville, West Virginia
five weeks each year, certain northeastern cities such as
, Boston , and Philadelphia had the same exact time as New York --but, a different time was observed in the eastern cities of Chicago , and Baltimore! Cleveland, Washington
To end this confusion, Congress finally enacted the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which was signed into law by President
Lyndon B. Johnson on 1966 April 12. This law set standard beginning and ending dates for Daylight Saving Time.
These beginning and ending dates for Daylight Saving Time have changed several times over the years. And, they will change
again next year! 2006 will be the last year when Daylight Saving Time begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the
last Sunday in October. Beginning in 2007, Daylight Saving Time will begin on the second Sunday in March and end on the
first Sunday in November. Officially, the time change occurs at Prevailing Time, on that early Sunday morning.
The U.S. Secretary of Energy has been directed to report the impact of this change to Congress. And, Congress has reserved
the right to revert back to the Daylight Saving Time schedule in effect in 2006.
So, various parts of the United States of America have used Daylight Saving Time since 1918 March 31. And, the City of
, specifically, has used Daylight Saving Time ever since that date. Chicago
Here is a link to the 1918 and 1942 pieces of Federal legislation, establishing Daylight Saving Time in the
Here is a link to the Uniform Time Act of 1966:
For more information, or a clarification, send your request to the following electronic mail address:
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† < FAQ@planetarium.cc >.
Editorís Note: This astronomically-related question was answered by Glenn A. Walsh, who served as Astronomical
Observatory Coordinator and a Planetarium Lecturer at
ís original Buhl Planetarium and Pittsburgh Instituteof Popular
Science in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mr. Walsh also served as a Life Trustee, on the Board of Trustees, of the
Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in
in the late 1990s, including one year as the Carnegie, Pennsylvania
Today, Mr. Walsh is Project Director of a not-for-profit organization, Friends of the Zeiss, which works for the
preservation and continued functionality of the historic equipment and artifacts of a
pioneer in the history of the development of planetaria and museums of the physical sciences,
Glenn A. Walsh
Electronic Mail - < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium,
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
* Astronomer & Optician John A. Brashear:
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway,
††< http://www.incline.cc >