Karl Ort’s aerial photo of East York
York native Karl Ort’s flight training during WWI led to several years of aerial barnstorming and a string of flying related concerns. Karl Ort’s interest in aerial photography began in Harrisburg during 1922 however his involvement peaked between 1926 and 1930 while flying out of York. His aerial photography primarily covered Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland, although he did occasionally venture beyond that area.
An extensive collection of Karl Ort’s aerial photographs is housed in the Archives of the York County History Center; it is not known how many, if any, go back to 1922. In fact most are simply dated as circa 1930 because the exact year is not known.
This post examines Karl Ort’s aerial photo of John H. Longstreet’s East York development; straddling East Market Street in Springettsbury Township. I’ve attached street names to my Xerox copy of York County History Center’s original photo print 32600.277P; dated circa 1930. The Hagley Museum & Library in Wilmington, Delaware has a print of exactly the same view in their J. Victor Dallin Aerial Survey Collection; item 70.200.00050 and dated circa 1924.
Zooming-in on Sections of Karl Ort’s Aerial Photo of East York
John H. Longstreet initiated the development of East York in 1903 upon releasing his vision of a plan of streets on a farm he had purchased from Vincent K. Keesy. Today, this unincorporated development, within Springettsbury Township, generally straddles East Market Street two blocks to the north and one block to the south; with I-83 to the west and Royal Street to the east. Much of this development was designated the Old East York Historic District in the 1990s and on March 12, 1999, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
John H. Longstreet began East York by installed all streets and sidewalks for all east-west blocks in the first block to the north of East Market Street. The overall aerial photo was taken as the streets and sidewalks were just starting to be constructed in the second block north of East Market Street and in the first block south of East Market Street.
The lots were developed randomly. Buyers purchased the lot of their choice, then hired a contractor to custom build their home. Mr. Longstreet set standards regarding the size and cost of houses to be built on the lots in his development. Some people think these restrictions caused the slow growth of East York; for even though laid out in 1903, only eight houses were built before 1920. Fifty houses were built between 1920 and 1930, and one hundred sixty-seven houses were built during the 1930s. A nice variety of building styles are represented throughout the development, including: Colonial, Revival, Prairie, Craftsman and Tudor.
The following zoomed-in section of Karl Ort’s aerial photo of East York on Market Street is between Findlay and Harlan Streets. I’ve pointed out the Longstreet Sales Office, which stood on the corner of East Market and Findlay Streets. That sales office no longer stands.
The distinctive colonial revival building on the corner of East Market and Vernon Streets was built by a coal baron in 1906 and became the clubhouse of the York Motor Club in 1912. During 1923, the race-car driving Dr. G. Emanuel Spotz purchased the mansion; which still stands today at 2025 East Market Street.
Churches usually yield an excellent historical timeline narrative. The Advent Lutheran Church occupies the northeast corner of East Market and Oxford Streets in the following zoomed-in section of Karl Ort’s aerial photo.
The “Springettsbury Township Centennial 1891-1991” publication notes the following about Advent Lutheran Church on page 91.
The Elmwood and East York areas were a growing community and the Lutheran Synod surveyed the area to see if there was a need for a Lutheran Church. As a result of the survey, Sunday school classes were started at the Elmwood and Heistand School in 1924.
A small frame chapel was built on East Market and Oxford Street. Church services were held and the two Sunday schools were merged.
The church was chartered 5/23/26 with 14 members. Their first minister was Dr. Edward Rubel.
A colonial style brick building replaced the frame chapel and over the years two more additions have been added.
Dr. Frank Seilhamer now (i.e. in 1991) ministers to a congregation of over 1,600 members at 1775 E. Market Street.
When was the small frame chapel built? I did a property deed search on the lot at the northeast corner of East Market and Oxford Streets. The initial purchase of land on that corner by the Advent Lutheran Church was a corner lot with 120-feet frontage along East Market Street and 150-feet depth along Oxford Street. That deed was made December 23, 1926; reference York County Deed Book 23Q, Page 643.
With these facts, I think it is a good probability the small frame chapel shown in the aerial photo was built early in 1927. Therefore the aerial photo had to be taken sometime after the spring of 1927, since the leaves are on the trees.
Longstreet records were used for the National Register application, i.e. “only eight houses were built before 1920. Fifty houses were built between 1920 and 1930.” I count 57-houses on the aerial photo, therefore I’m leaning towards 1930 as the year this aerial photo was taken.
Links to related posts include:
- Karl Ort is York’s Aviation Pioneer
- Karl Ort sells real airplane propellers for $1.98
- Rockburn Park and the East York Playground Association
- York County abodes of Judge Nevin Wanner
- Coal Baron built Mansion in Springettsbury
- Dempwolf drawings of Laing Mansion
- 1906 York Automobile Owners form York Motor Club; their Club House still stands
- Dr. Spotz used Race Car to make York County house calls