York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

World War II-era Yorkers welcomed nondescript housing

Just off York’s Roosevelt Avenue at Fahs Street, people today reside in two-story government-type housing.
The houses clash with the style of their single-unit neighbors in the Fireside area, but motorists passing by have probably grown accustomed to them.
But these houses were anything but nondescript when introduced to York in 1943… .

First, they represented country living in those days before York crowded its own boundaries.
Secondly, they helped alleviate an acute wartime housing shortage caused, in part, by a flood of defense workers laboring in York’s factories. Landlords did not like to rent to defense workers and servicemen because they were so mobile. Men in uniform were usually awaiting callup, leaving behind spouses who could not pay the rent, or so it was believed.
The first 50 of the houses opened with a grand tour by representatives of the York Chamber of Commerce and defense plants in mid-1943.
Architect Harry R. Lenker was on hand to point to the coveniences in the attractive homes: hardwood floors, hot water heating, painted plaster walls, gas stoves and refrigerators.
The four-room houses rented for $33 monthly, and those with five rooms cost $35.
The housing need caused other wartime housing to sprout up, but many did not remain standing long enough to become World War II relics. Sometimes, the housing was very temporary in nature.
About 150 trailer homes for defense workers popped up at the former York County Home tract near the county prison at the north end of Broad Street.
The National Park Service supervised the park, made up of trailers accommodating families of four and six.
Some of the trailers were equipped with shower, toilet and laundry facilities. Designers shaped the park so that none of the homes were farther than 150 feet from a trailer toilet.
So there it is, overlooked York County landmark No. 20, World War II-era defense worker housing. Other overlooked York County sites and landmarks (See posts under York Town Square):
— The Little Courthouse
— Prospect Hill Cemetery
— War Mothers Memorial
— Work War II USO at former York County Academy gymnasium
— York’s Salem Square soldiers monument
— York’s Cookes House
— York’s rowhouses
— Wrightsville’s monuments
— The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge
— Memorial trees along highways Route 30 & Susquehanna Trail.
— The Inches
— Camp Stewartstown
— The Wrightsville Bridge supports
— New York Wire Co.’s factory whistle
— Mary Ann Furnace
— York’s Hartman Building
— Hanover’s Iron Mike and The Picket
— York’s Eberts Lane
— Helen Reeves Thackston Memorial Park