York Streets Better Now than 200 Years Ago
Ploughing George Street
Along with spring comes potholes, and we grumble about the condition of streets and roads. The Lewis Miller drawing above might make you feel better. South George Street might develop the inevitable pothole now and then, but at least it’s level…and paved.
The caption reads:
“Michael Kleinfelter, Ploughing up the Hill in George Street, to make it level, this was done in 1807 & 8.
Thomas Baumgardner was Supervisor at the time. Dr. John Rouse & James Smith where [were] not Agreed to. this was from Kraffts Alley to the Jail Corner.
John Barnitz, Chief Burgess.” [similar to Mayor]
If Miller’s date it correct, the James Smith mentioned would have been James Smith, Jr., son of “our” signer of the Declaration of Independence. James Smith, Sr. died in 1806. Kraffts Alley is now known as Mason Avenue and the jail was on the northwest corner of George and King Streets. The Smiths lived on the west side of that half block and the Rouses on the east side.
It sounds like Kleinfelter was employed by the Borough of York to level the street. I don’t know why Rouse and Smith were opposed. Perhaps it had something to do with drainage and their property. In the days of horses and carriages, it seems like a level street would make a ride more comfortable.