York Town Square

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How 2016 can serve as coming-together moment for York, Pa. If it would just come together.


The Elk rockery stood tall in York, Pa.’s, Penn Park until about 25 years ago when vandalism spelled the end of this monument. The park, York’s oldest, will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2016. For additional postcards of York County scenes, see ydr.com’s MediaCenter gallery. Also of interest: Remember the Elks Monument in York County, Pa.

The York area has a moment in 2016 in which leaders can pool resources to have a major anniversary celebration.

That year, the city will reach its 275th anniversary and York Water Company and Penn Park, their 200th. The York County Heritage Trust’s Golden Plough Tavern, usually accorded the same founding date as the city, will also reach 275 years in age. York Rotary will celebrate its 100th anniversary that year.


The York Water Company, founded in 1816, initially supplied water to York via log pipes. Also of interest: Check out these facts, photographs about York Water Company’s ornate building. Courtesy, York County Heritage Trust.

The last big city-centric anniversary celebration came in 1991 – York’s 250th.

It spawned Jim Rudisill’s “York Since 1741” which opened with:

“In October of 1741 by special order of Thomas and Richard Penn, Proprietaries of the colony, that tract East of the Codorus, where crossed by the Monocacy Trail, was laid out in squares by Thomas Cookson, deputy surveyor of Lancaster County. Twenty-three lots were taken up in November 1741. Baltzer Spengler, who with Ulrich Whissler, had gone two years previous in 1739 to Philadelphia seeking permission from William Penn’s sons to establish a town on the banks of the Codorus.”

Why are these anniversary observances important?

They provide opportunities to educate the public about the past. That’s a common theme.

But often overlooked is how anniversary also provide a goal to bring people and organizations together. Imagine the cohesion gained if all those organizations moved together toward 2o16.

An anniversary celebration something to head toward, particularly for the city, which has just been plodding, maybe limping, along. It’s the old if-you-don’t -have-a-goal, you-won’t-hit it argument. The city badly needs a waypoint.

Further, such celebrations provide moments or checkpoints that students of history study to understand how a city or county was faring at a particular moment. And the lack of such an observance says something, too.

Simply put, an anniversary would provide an opportunity for the city to gather itself, take stock and then accelerate with verve.

It’s possible that the city’s 275th anniversary could come and go without notice. The date has been out there for months, and there’s no sign that the city is stirring. York Rotary, meanwhile, is preparing, collecting key dates and accomplishments from its history.

You don’t put together an anniversary celebration in months. It takes years.

The point here is that these groups should coordinate resources to have one big moment in 2016. Once can imagine a meaningful weekend event in this town on the banks of the Codorus in which all the people and venues represented by these organizations would participate.

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

275th anniversary, Part II.

goldenThe Golden Plough Tavern, which formed the backdrop for the York County Heritage Trust’s Oyster Festival, went up in at the same time as York was settled – in 1741. The tavern and city will observe their 275th anniversary in 2016. In 2014, it will be 50 years since the tavern was restored. Also of interest: York’s Golden Plough soul window said to have allowed spirit of dying to escape.