Hamburg Clock Tower
Location: On the east end of Lake Erie; off of Rt 5; west of the hamlet of Athol Springs; Town of Hamburg; Erie County; New York.
GPS Coordinates: Parking area off of Rt 5: N 42.77388 / W 78.86378
Directions: From Buffalo (north): Take the Buffalo Skyway (NY-5) south through Lackawana and along Lake Erie for 8 miles. Look for the Hamburg clock on the right along the lake. Turn right onto S Lake Shore Rd. The clock is right there.
From Erie/Dunkirk (south): You can follow NY-5 (Lakeshore Rd.) north past Hamburg. Look for the town clock on the left. Turn left onto S Lake Shore Rd. The clock is right there.
Use Google Maps.
Parking: Park in the lot next to the clock or in the dirt area north of it.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Seasons/Hours: Open year-round. Day and night.
Best time to visit: Spring through fall.
Time: A few minutes to check out the lake.
Handicap accessibility: Yes.
Swimming: Not allowed, and certainly not advised.
Boat launch: None. Use the boat launch at the Erie Basin Marina.
Accommodations: Scenic views; restaurants.
This small sliver of lakefront land along State Route 5, in the town of Hamburg, is nothing spectacular. Besides offering a clean parking area, a few benches, and nice views out into Lake Erie, it is an area that has some nice family restaurants along the shore. One of these is Hoak’s Lakeshore Restaurant, just east of the clock and a Hamburg institution, known for its amazing Beef on Weck and fish Fry, as well as relaxing views of the lake. The 35 ft tall clock tower has taken some damage in recent storms racking up a hefty repair bill that has some residents rallying some locals to call for it to be taken down. Still, on summer days, folks can be seen enjoying this small strip of lakefront, climbing down the rocks to the beach, or parked in the lot enjoying some takeout along with the view. So, for those trips along NY-5, it’s a pretty good stop to catch some grub and look out over the lake.
Athol Springs, a hamlet located just southwest of here, was renowned for its mineral springs believed to possess healing qualities. In 1894, the Fresh Air Mission established a site on the lake at Athol Springs, dedicating it to caring for infants afflicted with cholera, an illness stemming from unsanitary conditions. This health crisis posed a grave threat in many American cities during the late 19th century, triggering several severe epidemics. The mission complex encompassed an administration building that doubled as a baby lifesaving station, a hospital, a hotel, and a spring house. This building underwent several transformations, becoming a YWCA in 1910, the Lake Shore Manor Hotel in 1931, and Folt’s Lakeside Restaurant in 1935, before its eventual demolition in 2007.
Lake erosion at Athol Springs has jeopardized buildings along the shoreline. In the 1950s several 50 ft jetties were constructed to help shield the rock shores. One of these is here. Since then, more dramatic measures have been taken to protect the land, including seawalls.
Hiking / Walking Trails
Distance: Just a few feet from the parking area to see the lake.
Description: This is just a parking area with a few benches. There’s nothing else to it. Walk next door to get something to eat.
Map: Check out our interactive map.
Hamburg Town Clock Interactive Map
Fishing is allowed here if you can scramble down to the shoreline.
New York State Route 5
Beginning at the Pennsylvania state line in the Town of Ripley, State Route 5 spans 370 miles west to east across New York, passing through Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, and Schenectady, ending up in Albany. Along the way it overlaps with State Route 20, leading to the common name of both routes as simply “5 & 20.” Several small towns and cities, as well as countless curiosities, eateries, and historic sites can be experienced along its path.
Hoak’s, which is just to the south, is one of the best spots to get Buffalo cuisine. What to get? The Fish Fry.