Friday, August 17, 2012

York, Pennsylvania

York is one of the most well-preserved historic cities in the nation. A completely intact city, York should be ranked with the likes of other historic places like Savannah. Here you will not find multi-deck parking garages, blocks of urban prairie and parking lots, or rows of abandoned houses with "missing teeth" in the city center, as can be found in Pennsylvania's other urban places. York is a treasure trove and a museum of historic architecture, and most of it is beautifully maintained and preserved.  There are coffee houses, upscale eateries, a symphony, museums, charming Victorian townhouses, and nightlife, all in the heart of town. With all it has to offer, it is a surprise that York is so under-appreciated!

The Strand Theater (left, built in 1925), and the Capitol Theater (right, built in 1917)

The York Dispatch Building (1887) features a cast iron front.

York Dispatch Building (1887)

William C. Goodridge House and Museum (right), a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Billmeyer House, built 1860.

There are a few pockets of blight in York, but nothing compared to the level of abandonment and decay found in the central urban areas of most Pennsylvania cities. Most of the houses appear to be inhabited and in an excellent state of preservation (it is rare to find aluminum awnings or urban prairie in York!).  Few of the rows of housing have "missing teeth," as commonly found in Pittsburgh's row-house neighborhoods. 

Check out the old log house on the left!

Rex and Laurel Fire House (1878)

Central Market House (1888)

Gethsemane Hall (right, built in 1918 as a Masonic Temple)

Old York Post Office (1895)

Central Market House

National House (built in 1828). President Van Buren (1839) and Charles Dickens (1842) once stayed here.

Golden Plough Tavern (left), built 1741 and open to the public.  On the right is the General Horatio Gates House (built in 1751). The Marquis de Lafayette once attended a dinner in this house.

Barnett Bobb Log House, built 1812. Open to the public and showcases family life in the 1830s. 

Colonial Courthouse

Farmers' Market, built in 1876.

Codorus Creek

Friends Meeting House, built in 1766.


  1. Beautiful! This is an eye opener for me. But where is everybody? What time of day were these photos taken?

    1. These pictures were taken late on a Sunday afternoon.

  2. Nice work as always. Thank you Jonathon!


  3. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    Beautiful tour of our city. It is worth fighting for! More need to open their eyes and see it's beauty and potential. Some need to really see what other's have done and then take more pride in their own neighborhoods. It can be done if all work together toward the goal of pushing the thugs and drug dealers out of their neighborhoods and take them back for their children to grow up safe.

  4. AnonymousJune 26, 2013

    I appreciate your comments, Jonathan. I live here and feel most keenly as your remarks indicate. York is on the upswing.

  5. AnonymousJune 27, 2013

    love the pictures - just wish there were more street signs so we could locate our ancestors properties.

  6. Lovely photo tour! As a York ex-pat living in Pittsburgh for nearly 20 years, it's a nice reminder of where I grew up. I never considered the level of preservation extant in York because, living there, you tend to take it for granted that this is naturally the way things are.

    If you visit again, explore Roosevelt Avenue and some of the old downtown factories nearby. Linden Avenue crosses Roosevelt and leads to a nice area of homes built to house the management and executives of the nearby plants.

  7. AnonymousJune 30, 2013

    Pat June 29, 2013
    Thanks for reminding us what a great place York is. Super pictures

    1. May I ask where all of you linked to this page from? I've never had so many hits on my York photo tour before. :) Thank you for your kind words.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Jonathon: I found your page while googling Gethsemane Hall - and posted it to Preserving York on FB - it quickly became locally viral:

      Great photos! Thanks for reminding us what a great town we have!

  8. Great shots of a lovely town , my hometown ! So much amazing architectural diversity ... keep on catching it all ! I am so homesick now .....

  9. AnonymousJune 30, 2013

    Great photos and observations, Jonathon. I think we Yorkers sometimes are harder on ourselves than we should be. We certainly have a lot to be proud of, yet miles to go...Thanks!

    --Matt Jackson

  10. What a great documentation of York City. I was born and raised in York and now that I have been away for 13 years, I can really appreciate and see the beauty and charm of the brick row houses and the historic landmarks. I wish their were a similar nostalgic documentation of the 70's and 80's when i was growing up. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  11. AnonymousJuly 11, 2013

    Love, Love, LOVE the photo tour of my old home town. Currently living in western Kansas, I am homesick for the beautiful buildings and TREES! Thanks for the photos!

  12. Nice photo of our house. Thanks for documenting #iloveyorkcity!