NYC: National Debt Clock
Invented and bankrolled by New York real estate developer Seymour Durst, the 11-by-26 foot National Debt Clock was erected in 1989. When it first was plugged in, the odometer-style clock whirred furiously as the national debt rose by $13,000 a second. Often the last few digits increased so fast they were just a blur. And at one point in the mid-1990s, the debt was rising so fast the clock's computer crashed.
Under the presidency of Bill Clinton and a push for a balanced budget, though, the clock started ticking in the opposite direction, shaving off roughly $30 a second towards the turn of the century. Durst's son felt that was "sending the wrong message at [that] point" and the clock was shut down until 2002 when the "fiscally conservative" administration of George W. Bush reversed course and brought meaning back to the ticker.