York of Holidays Past

Continental Square

The holiday season is in full swing and decorations are everywhere. More than half a century ago, downtown York was the place to go for holiday shopping, with popular stores like The Bon-Ton, Bear’s, Wiest’s, and Jack’s drawing thousands of holiday shoppers to their locations on the first and second blocks of West Market Street. In fact, before the York County Shopping Center was constructed, both JC Penney and Sears, Roebuck were located on the second block of West Market Street.

In the spirit of the season, here’s a quick stroll through the York of holidays past. The image above shows Continental Square decked out for the holidays. Bear’s Department Store is to the left of the image.

Continental Square

Here’s another view of “The Square” from the late 1940s.  This view is looking at the southwest quadrant, with Roger’s and Eugene Jacobs Men’s Wear. The signs to the right of the image are for Wiest’s and McCrory’s.

West Market Street

Along West Market Street, this photo was taken in front of Wiest’s Department Store, looking toward Continental Square. Visible are signs for McCrory’s and Bear’s.

York Square 1990 low
Continental Square © Scott D. Butcher

Fast forward to the early 1990s, when this funky star hung over Continental Square.

York Christmas 6a
York County Court House © Scott D. Butcher

There was a time when decorated Christmas Trees stood in front of the York County Court House (today the York County Administrative Center) and in Continental Square. The tree in front of the former courthouse no longer appears each year, but here’s how it looked in the late 1990s.

York Christmas 5
Continental Square © Scott D. Butcher

Another image from the late 1990s shows the Trolley Master’s Station decked out in holiday cheer. Trolleys stopped running in York in 1939, but the station still stands today, a reminder of York’s vibrant past.

Victorian Carolers at Hantz House © Scott D. Butcher

This image is from Main Street York’s 2004 Holiday Open House, which featured strolling Victorian carolers. The Hantz House Tea Room, a popular destination that was located on the 400 block of West Market Street, is pictured in the background.

View from York County Court House Dome © Scott D. Butcher

This photograph was taken from the dome of the former York County Court House in 2004, when it was covered in scaffolding for restoration. The stores and occupants have changed, but many of the buildings pictured in the mid-twentieth century photos still stand, thanks to a robust historic preservation program and a community culture to preserve the architecture that has been a part of our fabric for decades or even centuries.

The Board of Directors for Historic York, Inc. wishes you, your family, and your friends a joyous holiday season and prosperous new year!


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