York Town Square

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275th anniversary celebration of York, Pa.’s founding isn’t a sexy number but may be effective

In 2006, artist Ophelia Chambliss paints a parking meter on York, Pa.’s, Beaver Street. The project, which has been ongoing, is designed to define York’s budding arts district. Other pieces of public artwork have since been added playing on the “Creativity Unleashed.” Also of interest: Also of interest: More than 5,000 crowded York’s Central Market for revival services in 19th century and Start Your Engines: World-renowned artist Jeff Koons drives into center of York’s art community and Temporary river art collection may find permanent home along Susquehanna.
Carl Kurlander of St. Elmo’s Fire film fame provided inspiration and information via a film and remarks at an recent Building York conference.
He told about Pittsburgh building a piece of its renaissance around a 250th celebration.
That prompted the idea, expressed in a York Sunday News editorial (2/20/11) that York could use the 275th anniversary of its founding in 2016 as a waypoint to guide its renaissance.
York was laid out in 1741.
A 275th anniversary is not as sexy as a 250th or 300th, but a 225th celebration of the adoption of Articles of Confederation in 2002 was successful.
Polk-Lepson research shows that the Nine Months in York Town observation moved the needle upward in public understanding of the Articles of Confederation.
Schools got involved. It became a major community celebration.
Here is the full editorial… .

Screenwriter Carl Kurlander inspired a large Capitol Theatre audience in kicking off the recent “Building York” summit.
His autobiographical “My Tale of Two Cities” film told a captivating story about how he gave up a screenwriting career in Los Angeles to return to his hometown of Pittsburgh.
There, he has turned into a civic booster.
And his post-film comments gave further insight about how York countians can invest in their community with human capital as well as with federal currency.
The now-University of Pittsburgh instructor left behind many lessons, including the point that his western Pennsylvania community used the 250th anniversary of the naming of Pittsburgh as a peg to improve perception of that city.
He suggested York find a similar moment to target and then work toward.
More about that at the end.
Here are some memorable lessons Mr. Kurlander — we suspect he’d insist on Carl — imparted (with our comments):
– Pittsburgh doesn’t always appreciate itself.
That’s a mantra among York’s leaders, as well, and true of any town.
Well, the time spent fretting about this should be turned into making a better product to attract people. The city produced such an asset in the York Revolution baseball team.
Build it and they will come.
– Use celebrities to tout your town.
Retired Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris was there on “My Tale,” speaking to the city’s attributes, as was his businessman-son.
York can boast of celebrities who could be asked to do the same — artist Jeff Koons, Green Bay Packer John Kuhn, NFL Hall of Fame candidate Chris Doleman, actor Craig Sheffer, composer Dominick Argento, playwright Ken Ludwig, bluegrass musician Del McCoury, among many others.
– Seek out opportunities from the Pennsylvania Film Office.
Pittsburgh has been intentional and aggressive in selling itself as a film location. Mr. Kurlander pointed out the lower cost of Pennsylvania sites and the proximity to media giant Comcast, based in Philadelphia.
– Do not get rid of your heritage and bulldoze historically significant buildings.
York has grown up in this respect, and now must market its varied, historic architecture as a sight to see.
People would come to the city to enjoy its streetscapes filled with what one historian has called a smorgasbord of architectural styles.
“You have so much history to build upon,” Mr. Kurlander said.
– Do not shrink from comparisons with other cities.
“My Tale of Two Cities” implies comparison, and much can be learned from the experiences of other towns — yes, even from Lancaster, as found elsewhere in today’s newspaper.
Back to Pittsburgh’s ability to seize the day by building on its 250th anniversary.
Well, the City of York, founded in 1741, will celebrate the 275th anniversary of its founding in 2016.
That’s five years from now.
And in the mold of Pittsburgh, it represents an anniversary that York can plan for, a milepost to measure itself by.
For example, York had 134 retailers in 2007.
How about 275 by its 275th?
Too modest?

Also of interest:
Map explains York, Pa.’s $50 million Northwest Triangle redevelopment area
All York Town Square posts from the start. Then use “find” function on browser to search for keywords.
– Of course, you can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, when you search for yorktownsquare and downtown York, you get this.