York Town Square

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Hanover ranks as York County’s oldest borough: The boroughs of York County series, No. 4

Hanover, Pa.’s, Forest Park operated as an electric park, a recreational center created by trolley line owners to enhance ridership. The park joined Highland, Cold Springs and Brookside Parks in the York area as York County, Pa.’s, trolley parks. The park was demolished to make way for the South Hanover Shopping Center in the early 1970s. Also of interest: Why is the Hanover Country Club in Abbottstown? and Is Civil War-era cash buried around Hanover? and Hanover’s Iron Mike guards the Picket.
Fourth in a series of occasional posts about York County’s 36 boroughs (see Felton, Yorkana and Lewisberry.)… .
Hanover was formed on the land crossed by the Monocacy Road, the 18th-century thoroughfare over which western European immigrants crossed from Atlantic ports to the Shenandoah Valley and points south. And crossing that road was the main road from Maryland to Carlisle and points west.
The roads brought many folks from Maryland in the 1700s, including many Roman Catholics who lived within this strongly Protestant region.
Those roads were important because the town is not served by a large creek or stream as are many other York County towns… .

The Hanover Branch Railroad connected Hanover to Baltimore and Harrisburg via Hanover Junction in the mid-1800s. And a trolley line linked the town to York and other York County points in the first third of the 20th century.
Despite these transportation connections, Hanover has developed an identity of its own, a self-contained community that seemingly has enjoyed separating itself throughout history from its older, larger brother, the county seat town of York.
Part of that separation comes from the fact that railroad and trolley and road links aside, it’s hard to get from east to west – and vice versa – in York County.
The link between Hanover and York will be reinforced when the rail trail following the old trolley bed opens between the two towns at a yet-to-be determined date.
What others say about Hanover: George Prowell wrote about the town in 1907: “Upon a level plain almost unrivaled for its beauty and loveliness, stands the prosperous borough of Hanover.” Founder Richard McAllister purchased the future site of Hanover in 1745. At that time, according to Prowell: “These fertile lands were then covered with a dense forest of hickory, walnut and oak trees.”
Population in 2000 – 14,545 (second largest to York). (York County census numbers.)
Incorporated: March 4, 1815. York became a borough in 1787 and a city in 1887, leaving Hanover as the oldest borough. (York County founding dates.)
Business: A striking quality about Hanover is that its downtown remains a hub with retailers, despite the presence of Walmarts in seemingly every compass point.
Assessment of Hanover in the 1996 “Hanover Area Pictorial History:” “When The Hanover Evening Sun decided to published a second volume … we were concerned whether or not the community would support a second publication. But I have since determined that Hanover is very unique in that its residents are deeply rooted in the history and heritage of this area.”
To learn more: Bruce Rebert’s “Commemorative History of Borough Affairs,” 1976.
Also of interest:
For a timeline of Hanover’s past, visit the Hanover Area Historical Society’s site.
To see other posts in this boroughs of York County series, visit this blog’s York County towns category.
Other Hanover-related posts of interest:
Academy Award-winning costume designer Ann Roth’s sketches exhibited in Hanover.
Abe Lincoln stopped at Hanover station:”We want to preserve history … so it doesn’t disappear’.
Hanover Civil War story stop: ‘Mother Loses Two Sons to War’.
All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)
– Of course, you can always search for York Town Square posts on Google. For example, search for yorktownsquare and Hanover.
Sources: George Prowell’s “History of York County,” “Gazeteer of York and Adams Counties.” Photos: “Hanover Area Pictorial Directory,” 1995.

The old carousel at Forest Park. For more photos and information on the park, visit: Forest Park.
*Edited, 1/20/11