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Can A City Set Its Time Zone?


The original number of time zones is 24, which gives each time zone an hour difference. However, some countries that observe more than a single time zone believe that one hour is not ideal for those places near each other. That's why additional time zones were created. And for those countries that observe Daylight Saving Time, their time zone will be changed from standard to daylight time. But how are time zones created? Can a city set its time zone?

How Railroads Affect the Creation of Time Zones

Before, there was no standard time like the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) because the time was usually determined locally. For instance, many people use solar position references with the Apparent Solar Time techniques. Every town had its de-facto reference, which can be seen in churches and city halls.

When you search about the history of time zones, you'll find an exciting concept of time meridians (time zones). The idea was first credited to Dr. William Hyde Wollaston in the late 1700s, which Abraham Follett Osler then popularized in the late 1800s. With these discoveries, the Greenwich Observatory Mean Time (GMT) standard was formed.

It was William Lambert who presented a report to Congress for the establishment of time zones. Although his proposal was not accepted, the expansion of the railroads helped create a universal time standard and time zones. This was done to keep a reasonably accurate railroad schedule. 

There would be problems if time zones were not created. For instance, safety issues will occur because many trains would share a single track with no time zones, and the exact time was critical. A significant number of train crashes could have been averted if a better time system had been adopted nationwide.

Is It Possible for A City to Set Its Time Zone?

Cities can create their time zone, but this is not applicable for all countries. One city that has set its time zone is the city of Detroit, MI. From 1900 to 1915, Detroit observed Central Time, but it switched to Eastern. 

Though developing a new time zone is possible, it can create confusion, especially to nearby cities and states. In the present day, time zones are controlled by the US Department of Transportation. In 1926, Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which defined the time zones in the USA. Although the original Act put half of Idaho in Mountain and half in Central, the Central half still kept Mountain.

Time zones can be confusing, but you'll understand why they were created as you learn their history. Every country, province, or city can set its time zone, but not all might acknowledge it since time zones are controlled, especially in the United States. This is why those who want to keep Daylight Saving Time permanent still need the Congress’ approval.

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