York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Once pulled down, York’s market sheds won’t go back up

The market sheds in York’s Centre Square were intact in this photo, as the Hartman Building, tallest in York, looms in the background. The dating of this photo is a bit elusive because no flag pole is apparent between the sheds. That would place the photo before the early 1860s. But was photography advanced enough in the 1850s to get this shot? At any rate, after the sheds and flag pole came down post late-June 1887, the square was clear and has been so ever since. Background posts: York’s western gate: One image says so much, Farm vs. factory tension relieved by overnight raid and Late June has seen pivotal moments in York County history.

By now the story is familiar.
In the middle of the night in late June 1887, someone hooked ropes up to the supporting pools of York’s Centre Square market sheds.
The sheds came tumbling down, and so did the symbolic and real impediments to the movement of people and goods through the heart of York. And thus did industrialization and development symbolically gain the upper hand in agrarian and bucolic York County.
The episode has a postlude, as outlined in a 1927 special section in The Gazette and Daily… .

That section celebrated the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the Articles of Confederation in the county courthouse, also then located in the center of Centre Square.
Charles M. McElhinny must have disapproved of this nocturnal act of “rough” justice. Or else he was seeking to poke fun at the demolition.
Anyway, a parade celebrated the 100th anniversary of York borough’s founding in September 1887.
According to McElhinny, the impetus for the parade – and also the demolition of the sheds – came from Daniel K. Noell, the first mayor in that year, 1887, York’s first year as a city.
McElhinny helped make a float representing one of the old market sheds.
It was constructed so it would fall when the parade passed over the site of the old sheds and then raise again for the remainder of the parade.
“The scheme was all right,” McElhinny wrote, “except that the ‘market house’ was so heavy that when the builders and several assistants tried to raise it up again they could not do so.”
The ghosts of market sheds past certainly ensured there was a bit of “rough” justice there: Once development takes over a county, it’s virtually impossible to turn brown back into green.
And thus we have what we have today.
A sampling of other York market posts:
York County farm vs. factory tension relieved in overnight raid .
Going to market a longtime York County pastime.
York’s Central Market sells steak … and sizzle.
The forgotten fifth York market house.
York Market House No. 1 – Penn Street Farmers Market.
York Market House No. 2 – The architecturally striking City Market.
York Market House No. 3 – The first Eastern Market.
Market House No. 4 – Central Market, York’s most popular.
York Market House No. 5 – Carlisle Avenue Market, revisited.