York’s Doctors Row continues to intrigue folks
An e-mailer queried us for information on Doctors Row, a couple of blocks on York’s West Market Street that for decades served as offices for medical practitioners.
I sent her several articles from our library system http://www.ydr.com/search?vertical=archive, but one stood out.
Actually, it wasn’t a news article, but an editorial from August 1997 titled “Doctors Row needs preventative medicine:” …
Like the baby boomers who were treated there 30-plus years ago, Doctors Row is feeling some aches and pains. But as city neighborhoods go, the 400 and 500 blocks of West Market Street still look better than many others.
Granted, the area is not as vibrant as it was before the “mallification” of health care in the York community. The 40 independent health-care providers that once drew patients to the elegant area have dwindled to 10.
Although the area is still known as Doctors Row, buildings are more apt to display a “for sale or lease” sign than a golden plaque engraved with a physician’s name. However, their spirit surely lives along with the name Doctors Row.
Let’s pretend to knock on one of the handsome oak and leaded-glass doors for some advice on behalf of the block: “She’s not as healthy as she once was,” we would tell the doctor about the neighborhood. “Perhaps her depression is linked to empty nest syndrome. What can be done?”
The doctor might reply with advice such as this: “Tell the block to get on with her life. Help her to find new interests. Watch carefully for signs that she might be letting her appearance slip. That could indicate a rapid decline.
“Concentrate on wellness care. Preventative medicine is the best and most cost-effective.
“My associate, Dr. Eric Menzer, is excising neighboring tumors before the cancer of decline can spread to Doctors Row.”
Mr. Menzer, doctor (er, director) of economic development for York, is hard at work administering emergency care to oozing wounds in the 200-block of West Market Street. The city has had some success, including the expected departure of Swinger’s Bookstore.
Also on on that block, Sam and Tony’s Pasta House might prove “if you build it, they will come.” The restaurant’s new banquet hall was solidly booked well into the future before last week’s grand opening. The YMCA is about to give birth to a community development corporation that is expected to concentrate on the 300-block of West Market St.
Meanwhile, Mr. Menzer has already diagnosed Doctors Row. “We’ve observed the movement of the health care trade from that block,” he told Daily Record reporter Mike Mender in a recent interview.
“I think a lot has to do with the needs of a modern-day medical practice -lots of heavy-duty electrical capacity, ample parking and handicap accessibility that are hard to find in a 150-year-old building.”
Likewise, the charm and craftsmanship than can be found in a well-maintained century-old building cannot be duplicated in a newer edifice. Such structures may no longer be suited for doctor’s offices, but it is not difficult to imagine Doctors Row becoming a trendy place to live or perhaps turning into Bed and Breakfast Row if the buildings are not allowed to decline.
The block is critical to the long-term health of central York. Unfortunately, rapid decline is predictable unless something happens sooner rather than later. The city has plenty of neighborhoods that bear witness to the high cost of “later.” Doctors Row deserves a higher priority.