York Town Square

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Part II: How one spot in York County, Pa., tells much about what is going on around there

A man drives a Harley-Davidson attached to a York Sanitary Milk Co. Purity Ice Cream cart in this York County (Pa.) Heritage Trust photograph. Home milk delivery started in 1942, tapered off in the 60s and ended in the 1990s, according to the York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News. In recent years, milkmen have served western York County. Background posts: Part I, How one spot … and Baltimore screamed for York County ice cream and Pinch Gut or Arbor or Adamsville is in Red Lion or Dallastown or, uh, actually York Township and Perrydale’s bovine: ‘She’s a wonderful, laid-back cow’.

The recent ‘Remember’ package in the York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News indeed reminds us of the days when the milkman made house calls.
This ties into the growing presence of Maryland-based Royal Farms stores in Pennsylvania, specifically York County.
The most recent one replaces a building at Roosevelt Avenue and Route 30 that had housed a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership for years.  (Demolition work on that building began on March 6, 2012.)
Let’s see if we can paint the trends, more or less in the order they happened.

– Growing mobility meant people did not have to depend on milk deliveries at home. That spelled the demise of the milkman, who made his last delivery in the York-area in the early 1990s.
– Convenience stores selling gas replaced full-service gas stations because people, well, wanted convenience – one-stop shopping. Rutter’s, York County’s most enduring dairy, was the local entry into what became a dogfight among stores.
– The building of Interstate 83 and the Route 30 bypass to accommodate growing traffic meant that people could live in low-cost York County and commute to Baltimore and Harrisburg and Lancaster.
– Chain convenience stories – Turkey Hill, Sheetz and now Royal Farms in force – entered York County to capture that increased traffic. (Interesting, Wawa and 7-Eleven never gained a toehold here – yet.)
– The prevalence of former Marylanders in York County captured Baltimore giant Royal Farms’ attention in recent years, and the company is now building sprawling convenience stores to tap former customers who have moved north.
– In 2009, automotive industry pressure to place independent dealers selling single brands under one roof caused York Chrysler at Route 30 and Roosevelt to sell to nearby Stetler Dodge, forming Stetler Dodge Chrysler Jeep. This was indicative of a contraction in the American automotive scene, an industry that has spawned so many vehicles on the roads in the first place.
– Land and buildings that housed the former York Chrysler thus became available, with the dealership now specializing in Mitsubishi and Kia at the south part of that site. Royal Farms wil occupy the north part of the site, to service its former customers in Maryland.
What does all this mean?
Well, York County is changing, and outside forces are often prompting that change.
York countians are as hungry for convenience as those living anywhere else. Business is attempting to service that quest for convenience.
Convenience store owners should be aware that they can contribute positively to the quality of life in York County if they recycle former sites. Royal Farms clearly is doing that at its new Route 30 site, and Sheetz is doing the same at locations at the site of a former housing development in the southeast point of Route 30 and Interstate 83.
And all these vehicles and commuters and sprawling convenience stores often are claiming land that for decades – centuries – provided grass for the cows to graze.
It all goes to show – again – how one spot in York County tells much about what’s going on around here.
A sampling of other topics in the “Remember” series:
The moon landing
Tropical Storm Agnes
York County’s cigarmaking days
The Great Depression
Blizzards of 1993 and 1996