York Town Square

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Going to market a longtime York County, Pa., pastime – and will remain so longtime into future

York, Pa.’s Central Market has been a source of culinary delight for marketgoers since 1888. That pastime will continue, if a recent visit there is any indication. Also of interest: From squealing pigs to wireless, York, Pa., markethouses have changed and Old York City Market: ‘It was a real treat for me to walk to market with Grandma’ and Going to market a longtime York County pastime, Part I.

A visitor to York’s Central Market last Saturday could squint and see its future.
The vantage point was the gallery or balcony along the West Philadelphia Street side.
Below, even as late as 2 p.m., the expanded food court was nearly full.
And that is even before The Left Bank opens a restaurant there.
The sunny weather no doubt played a role in bringing people in.
But this came in contrast to some Saturday morning visits late last year and earlier this year where the food court featured only a couple of lonely tables, often sans sufficient chairs, that were often empty. That led me to wonder about the market’s future… .

Outside the Central market, this mural greets market goers at the parking garage at North Beaver and West Philadelphia. (Photos by the York Daily Record/Sunday News.)

In the past 20 years, I’ve observed the market’s aisles change from crowded to sparse. One can only imagine navigating those aisles when weekly attendance at the market measured 20,000.
Saturday’s crowd represented a marked change. It was a diverse bunch, but it was noteworthy that many were 20- and 30-somethings.
That’s an audience market owners no doubt want and reinforced the strategy of city leaders that a key to the city’s future are the young professionals who will fill condominiums going up throughout the downtown.
These younger folks don’t have the baggage of some in the suburbs about the city’s safety.
They’re looking for fun places to gather, no different from marketgoers from decades – centuries – ago. Central Market was that type of place Saturday.
Of course, there are some things to work on. The community piano clashed with music blaring in the food court, but that type of fun noise is better than none.
Market managers must find a solution to dirty tables, in the food court and balcony. That’s easy. Take the Roburrito’s approach at its West York and Dallastown stores: Supply cleaning spray and paper towels, and customers will clean the tables themselves. This is not a market-only issue, by the way. Panera Bread needs to work on that, too.
The table heights don’t work real well for laptop users taking advantage of the free – and very fast – wireless. But don’t get rid of those old-time tables in the south end of the balcony. They go well with the market.
But all those are details.
The big picture from the balcony this particular Saturday was one that provided a glimpse of the future.
A sampling of other York market posts:
York County farm vs. factory tension relieved in overnight raid .
Going to market a longtime York County pastime.
York’s Central Market sells steak … and sizzle.
The forgotten fifth York market house.
York Market House No. 1 – Penn Street Farmers Market.
York Market House No. 2 – The architecturally striking City Market.
York Market House No. 3 – The first Eastern Market.
Market House No. 4 – Central Market, York’s most popular.
York Market House No. 5 – Carlisle Avenue Market, revisited.