York Town Square

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Picturing History in York: When faces of 1941 cross paths with shoppers in 2014

Picturing History, a series of photographs combining the old and the new with a special technological flare, chose York, Pa.’s, Central Market as its first topic. It’s a good choice. The market is an icon of York and a central player in the burgeoning arts district. Check out Picturing Hanover for a similar look: Broadway in Hanover, then & now: With snow and without.

When Central Market opened in York in the late 1880s, the retail climate was changing in York.

Since just about the beginning of York County in 1749, Centre Square and its outdoor market shed served as the center of commerce. But by 1887, those rickety market houses clogging up the square were out of favor. They were pulled down in the middle of the night.

Big, covered market houses were the order of the day – Farmers Market, for example. City Market was the grandest. Eastern Market and Carlisle Street Market would be in there, too, serving the east and west parts of town and the countryside, respectively.

But Central Market had the longest legs – the most enduring legs – operating in a newly renovated fashion today.

Meanwhile, a few miles to the northwest, the West Manchester Mall faces a similar change in retail climate.

The covered mall, fashioned after the market houses, is out of favor. The power center is now in fashion. Big boxes that you can park near, reminding you, really, of the old-fashioned shopping centers.

The thing that is noticeable is that the covered West Manchester Mall lasted only 30 years.

People are fickle, ready to desert the old mall concept in just three decades. So the demalling process is taking place.

Interestingly, the power center’s lifespan might be short, too, as people turn increasingly to e-commerce.

Shop online and have the packages delivered to your door.

Meanwhile, we like photographer Paul Kuehnel’s description about his Picturing History photo:

“Methodically matching up old photos with new ones for a new ydr.com series Picturing History, taking particular care to blend reality and combine human interaction over time, I just suddenly turned up one eyebrow and flinched.

“I was reminded of stories like “Look At the Creepy Lifelike Robots That Google Just Bought”, or this “The uncanny valley concept states that we are unsettled by robots and models that look almost..”

“How unsettling, when fantasy crosses over into what we perceive as reality. When robots appear real. And the faces of 1941 appear to be following an unsuspecting market shopper last week and cross paths 73 years later.”

Also of interest:

See this Picturing History with the slider technology in place.

Journalist Christine Loman, who worked on this project with Paul, explains the story behind Picturing History.

A sampling of other York market posts:

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.