York Town Square

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York, Pa.: No ‘rustbelt town on the banks of the Susquehanna’

In 2003, 10 years after the first Golden Venture passenger arrived in York County, Pa., and six years after their release, people assembled outside the York County Prison. The detainees were aboard the ship with hundreds of other smuggled Chinese when it was grounded off the Atlantic Coast near New York City in 1993. The overload of prisoners caused the INS to incarcerate them in York County. York, Pa.: ‘It’s a midsize city with an interesting history’ and 20 questions and answers to prove your York County smarts, Part III and Resources for York/Adams history junkies increasingly posted on Web.

A mixed bag of neat stuff … .
I’m listening to Patrick Radden Keefe’s “The Snakehead, An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream” book on tape.
It’s the story of the Golden Venture and its human cargo that has become familiar to many York countians. Many of the Golden Venture passengers ended up in York County Prison for four years in the 1990s. Concerned people held weekly vigils outside the prison for years lest those languishing inside would be forgotten.
Keefe effectively puts the York County chapter into the whole story of the Golden Venture passengers.
But he lapsed in one area – a pitfall for many out-of-town journalists. He mischaracterized York County… .

Keefe called York, “A rustbelt town on the banks of the Susquehanna River.”
Of course, the Susquehanna is about a dozen miles to the east, and the prison is in relatively affluent Springettsbury Township.
Southcentral Pennsylvania towns along interstates, like York, generally escape the rustbelt label because of the influx of Marylanders, the advent of warehousing and other service businesses and the historic and onging prominence of agriculture.
Few old brick factories are rusting, their spacious floors filled with condominiums. Heck, York County is part of a region that will run out of area codes in a couple of years.
I mean, would you call Lancaster a rustbelt town? Do the Amish give Lancaster a pass? (York County has a growing Amish population.) Is York County really any different from its neighbor across the river?
All this is great fun, of course.
But Keefe did get the next part right.
He said the Chinese prisoners were greeted with a prison diet of beef pot pie, apple sauce and cole slaw.
No debating that.
Those are staples of a Pennsylvania Dutch farming culture.
No rustbelt there.
Also of interest:

All York Town Square posts from the start.