York Town Square

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Prohibition forced drinking of alcohol – and York, Pa.’s restrooms – underground

Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic blog captured this image from the men’s restroom under York, Pa.’s Continental Square on the recent Harley-Davidson Bike Night. Also of interest: Researcher leaves detailed files on more than 300 York and Adams mills and York County photo collection adds to historical record and Noted photo archive captures York County treasures.

“For the non-biker, perhaps one of the most exciting parts about Bike Night was the bathrooms. That’s right. The bathrooms.”
So says a caption on Philip Given’s compelling blog, The Susquehanna Photographic.
His blog provides several scenes of the old restrooms, under Continental Square’s southeast corner, as part of his photographic coverage of Harley-Davidson’s annual Bike Night … .

“One of the best parts are the two red barber chairs that sit in a small dark room off to the side,” another caption states. “We couldn’t help imagining what it was like back in the day, when you could get a hair cut, a shoe shine, and a bath all in one trip.”
The underground men’s and women’s restrooms actually were a sign of the times.
As local researcher Liz Williams wrote in her master’s thesis, their 1920s construction links to Prohibition.
The closure of bars meant a dearth of public restrooms.
I wrote in the post For decades, York’s underground comfort stations spelled relief: “After controversy over whether the public sector should build them, the square was excavated. In short, as drinking went underground, so did the comfort stations.”
The station had showers, a barber’s chair, lockers and a shoe-shine spot. The women’s side had a bath tub.
Today, the comfort stations are open for special occasions, such as Bike Night.
Thanks to Philip Given for providing the rare view.
Also of interest:
Brewery profits produced landmark West York mansion.
When did York’s square’s name change from Centre to Continental?