Today, London's Victorian chimes of Big Ben carried the customary four notes from Handel's Messiah every fifteen minutes across the city in celebration of the clock's 150th birthday.
On May 31, 1859, the clock officially started keeping time. Big Ben started tolling a few days later, and within months it cracked and didn't resume service until 1862.
At first legislators complained that it was too loud, while The Times of London lamented that the blunders surrounding the project were a "disgrace to all concerned".
But, as the bad memories faded and London's collective ear became used to the bong of the great bell, the tower became a cherished part of the city's landscape, and the country's self-image.