Time Zones

Who decides where the time zones go? I noticed how the time zones snake every which way through the USA and other countries. Is there ryhme or reason to it?

They try to avoid major population centres, where possible.


good idea. back in my youth the line for central and mountain time ran between bismarck and mandan north dakota. i noticed that got pushed west. but i noticed that williston ND is in the central zone while Dickinson, to the south, is mountain. i don’t see any major population centers so do the locals get to pick where the line goes?

At least at the state level, they do. The only point in Michigan that could be considered legitimately Eastern Time is Port Huron, but Michigan declared (asked the coordinating committe?) that the Lower Peninsula be included completely in the Eastern, not Central, Zone to allow easier communication with the financial centers in New York City, years ago.

I don’t know the procedure, however.


well i guess i could send my lazy butt over to Britannica.com and see if they have any mention of time zone history.

Hey, stewart, we’re working on it…

From the World Book Encyclopedia…

Worldwide time zones were established in 1884. The meridian of longitude passing through the Greenwich Observatory in England was chosen as the starting point for the world’s time zones.

An international conference in 1884 set up 12 time zones west of Greenwich and 12 to the east. These zones divide the world into 23 full zones and two half zones. The 12th zone east and the 12th zone west are each half a zone wide.

The boundaries between the zones are irregular so that neighboring communities can have the same time.

It certainly is up to the states where time zone lines go. Years ago, Arizona voted not to observe daylight-saving time. During DST, Arizona is on Pacific Time; the rest of the year, they are on Mountain Time. West Texas, including El Paso, is now on Mountain Time all year, whereas they used to be on Central Time like the rest of the state. If memory serves, some state legislator from El Paso asked for the change because in the summer, the sun wouldn’t set 'till nearly nine o’clock, and rise some time around seven. Going to Mountain Time fixed that. And I think there’s a similar situation in Indiana.

Question: Don’t the time zones we have actually date back more than one hundred years to the establishment of the Greenwich Observatory as being the reference point for longitude? The time zones do generally follow lines of longitude, but they change for national borders: China has one time zone, and so does Alaska. (If you know what time it is in Greenwich and you know what time it is where you are, you can figure out your longitude, though don’t ask ME how it’s done. :o )(Hmmmmm… If your clock and Greenwich are six hours apart, are you ninety degrees away from Greenwich…? 360 degrees divided by 24 hours equals 15… Six times fifteen equals ninety. Hey, it works!)

I think each government is free to set its clocks however they like, but it’s in their own best interests to let everyone else know what they’re doing.

Probably more than you wanted to know, but it shows how nothing stands alone.

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

And, of course, my reply was beaten by a faster typist who had less to write! :o

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

Yeah (about Indiana.) Additionally there was an attempt a few years ago to move one of the weird counties back across the line but it failed. Then an attempt to move back just half of the county failed when the state wouldn’t let a county be cut up. That sort of thing happens every decade or so (around here.)

The original scheme for time zones has been fine-tuned plenty since first being introduced. I personally think those half-hour off nations and provinces are goofy but their rulers apparently do not agree with me.

But the Internet is gonna change all that. I have it on good authority that the whole world will soon be going onto one universal Cecil Time so that we can all post to this board and e-mail each other without confusion.

Alaska has more than one time zonen though not the 4 zones they used to have

Nobody brought up the railroads.
The big push for standardized time in North America (it was a hard sell, gang) came from the railroads.

I read there was a movement in the U.S. to change so there were only 2 time zones… “Computers are a passing fad.”-Red Green

If you were willing to abandon the convention that “12 'o clock Noon” must approximately coincide with the local midday, then the entire world could just go on Zulu (Greenwich) time.

Who would want to live in a lower 48 with just 2 time zones? You would force a signifcant part of the population to go to work or school in the dark (or the reverse depending upon the season), which is not desirable from a public safety standpoint.

What advantages would there be with just two time zones? I would assume that you would have to use the “middle” zones: Central and Mountain.
If the Pacific Coast starts operating on Mountain time, there will be a lot of very late sunsets, but the sun isn’t going to rise a large part of the year until after 7 or 8 am.

Isn’t all of China on Beijing time? Must be a bugger getting out of bed in the Uigur region in January.

I read recently that a place called Pitts Island a little island off the coast of New Zealand (population about 500) will become the first place in the world to see the new mellenium.

And already someone has planned to change their clocks back 1 hour so they can become the first to actually have their clocks change to 2000 on Jan 1st.

But as they said in the story the Pitts Island will be the first to see the sun on Jan 1/st 2000.

Please feel free to email me.
I’m not conceited, I’m convinced!
and visit my homepage. http://members.aol.com/dandmb50/1.html/

To some degree, we already do. Central Time is regarded as equal to Eastern Time for purposes of TV, etc., and Mountain Time is regarded as a poor cousin. If the USA went entirely on Eastern and Pacific Time, there would be surprisingly few changes.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Just don’t make me go back to the land where Monday Night Football starts at 9pm. (I detest eastern time)

But the time zones used would have to be Central and Mountain. You couldn’t just use Pacific and Eastern. The changeover would be a bit too abrupt for the middle of the country.

“Thank you for visiting Kansas. It is now 8:30 am”
“Welcome to Missouri. It is now 11:30 am”.