York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Since its earliest years, Farquhar Park has represented a hilltop prize in York, Pa.

Mary Anne Bacas, of the Avenues Neighborhood Association, is seen at the Farquhar Park gazebo in 2006. The gazebo, or bandstand, has been the scene of vandalism since its restoration in the past decade. (See another view from the gazebo below.) But park vandalism has been a problem for more than 100 years. Also of interest: About York’s Farquhar pool’s water: ‘He would demonstrate the safeness by drinking a cup’ and U.S. Army Field Band: Live at Farquhar Park and The ‘Little Courthouse,’ longtime Farquhar Park resident, still stands tall.

In 1899, York city officials were concerned about vandalism at Farquhar Park.
Not much has changed.
But that wasn’t their biggest issue with the beautiful hilltop park named after industrialist A.B. Farquhar… .

Farquhar Park’s gazebo today. In 1899, the York Gazette reported on the view from this hill: ‘Over the city and country, over valley and mountain, the eye can roam at will, and it is not too much to say that it is this view which constitutes the chief attraction of the park.’
They were concerned that development on private land would encroach on the view from the park. And those houses crowding around the green space would cut off the breezes then enjoyed by parkgoers in those days before air conditioning.
“This beautiful park will then become no whit better than a stuffy city square, and no one will care to make the climb to the summit when there is nothing to reward the effort,” The York Gazette reported in July 1899 during a period, no doubt, of hot weather.
“It will be deserted, and useless and valueless. The donor will have made his gift to the city in vain and the money spent on it will have been wasted.”
Park users today can decide whether this call for the city to acquire the land as a buffer was aggressive enough.
But it was interesting that such an issue would occupy the attention of townspeople in those days. Today, private-sector encroachment on a city park would be 99th on a list of 100 issues facing the city.
As for the vandalism plaguing the park in 1899, the newspaper advocated the appointment of park police to patrol the then-isolated park, one of two in the city. (The city now has more than 20.)
“These possible troubles were such as are connected with any park which is not sufficiently protected,” the newspaper opined. “But the case of Farquhar Park is peculiar.”
For another post about turn-of-the-century York, click here.