York Town Square

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Display marks how York County courthouses evolved

The renovated old county courthouse has a new informative display tracing the history of the buildings serving York-area residents for the past 250 years.
The display, titled “The Evolution of the York County Courthouse,” can be viewed on the third floor of the 1898 building, located on East Market Street.
York County has played host to four courthouses: the Colonial Court House, in Centre Square; an 1841 building situated on the site of the 1898 courthouse; and the new North George Street judicial center.
The location of the courthouses say a lot about the evolution of the county… .

When the first courthouse was completed 250 years ago in 1756, it was in the center of Centre Square in a town that is near the middle of triangular-shaped York County. A farmers market joined it in the square. Government and trade, both important, were accorded prime spots.
But its 1840s replacement stood on East Market Street, leaving the market sheds in the square.
The town and county apparently had decided that government did not deserve the prime location, but the market sheds, representing trade and commerce, stayed.
By then, a growing number of local government units populated the county, and the Jacksonian and Jeffersonian Democrats, representing a majority in the county, distrusted big government. The new courthouse site, off the center square, was just fine, thank you.
As we’ve written before (see York Town Square archive post “Late June marks pivotal moments in York history,” the market sheds had their day, unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the night in deference to the needs of the Industrial Revolution in 1887.
That’s all history. Looking ahead, you could say that sparse pedestrian traffic around Continental Square, if not revived, will cause mounting difficulties for York and York County.
That is why baseball, the entertainment scene and other attractions to draw people to the square are so important.
Otherwise, York will have a giant hole in its heart which will radiate outward to the rest of York County if left unchecked.