I was passing through 30th Street Station in Philadelphia last Thursday, on my way back from Washington, and took a photo of one of my favorite details about the place: the early 20th century Art Deco-style clocks bearing “Eastern Standard Time” lettering. (You can just see Spirit of Transportation in the far lower background.)

What a beautiful little reminder of what a bigger continent North America used to be, and what a larger nation America felt like, before the time of consumer air travel, when we relied on the railroads to link together the far flung states of our ambitious republic.

I wonder, genuinely wonder, how many passersby see that “Eastern Standard Time” lettering and wonder about it from a standpoint of real curiosity or confusion about why such a thing would even need to be stated at a train station.