York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

When did the square in York change its name from Centre to Continental?

These two views show York’s Continental Square looking south. That’s the Hartman Building, later Futer Bros., at left and the Colonial Hotel, right. Actually, the bottom view is dated. Futer Bros. has closed, and the new owner has removed the siding in renovating the building. Background posts: Contractor: Keeping old Futer Bros. building’s integrity not hard, but costly, ‘Skyscrapers’ have shaped York’s skyline since 1850 and Cobblers: ‘There’s still a need for us’.

Read 19th-century documents and York’s Centre Square often pops up.
But it’s known as Continental Square today.
When and why the change?

A marker commemorating the Articles of Confederation was unveiled on Continental Square in York in 2002, part of festivities recognizing the 225th anniversary of the Articles of Confederation.
Scott Butcher looks into the question and came up with the following in his photo book “York”:
“In the 1920s, Centre Square came to be known as Continental Square in honor of the Second Continental Congress, which actually adopted the Articles of Confederation in the middle of Centre Square.”
The massive 150th celebration of the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in 1927 was a major event, and no doubt contributed to the name change.
The name change was a forerunner of a rash of links to the American Revolution that grew from tourism efforts after 1960 to build on First Capital, Colonial, Yorktown and related names. One count placed the number of businesses drawing on these themes about five years ago at more than 60. (For a full discussion on this topic, see Is York the First Capital of the United States?
The most recent major player to link to the Colonial theme is the York Revolution baseball team. And the city’s current promotional efforts play on the theme “Revolutionary York.”
So the boast to the Colonial theme assigned to York’s square in the 1920s ripples years later.
Ah, the staying power of one idea.