York, Pennsylvania has much to offer the modern visitor. From shops to restaurants to art galleries with the most innovative pieces, today York is a thoroughly modern city. However, a walk through historical York, PA, will show you the area’s storied past.
The History of York, PA
Before the arrival of Captain John Smith and other Europeans, the Susquehannock people were in the area now known as York County for many generations.
Surveyors from the William Penn family founded what would become the city of York before 1741. The surveyors, Baltzer Spengler and Ulrich Whisler, are still honored today. In 1777, the Continental Congress established the central government of the colonies in York, leaving Philadelphia to get away from the threat of the British army.
The Articles of Confederation were adopted in York, and the French Treaty of Alliance was signed in the city. Until June 1778, York was the capital of the United States, and there’s evidence that the phrase “the United States of America” was first spoken in York.
In the early 1800s, York grew quickly. The first public entertainment was created in 1812, and in 1818, the first coal dealer started business. The first trains arrived in the city in 1838. By the 1850s, the first telegraphs were being delivered in the city. By 1881, York had electricity and the telephone.
York was also the site of many firsts. Dr. George Holtzapple created a system of equipment, black oxide of manganese and chlorate of potash to make the first type of oxygen mask. Phineas Davis built the first coal-burning locomotive in York in 1832. The first escalator was installed in a York building in 1956.
Tour Historical York, PA
There are walking tours of the downtown and historic York area. You can also take a walk through the downtown historic district yourself to see colonial inns and homes dating back to the Revolutionary War. You’ll also find Civil-War-era hotels where famous writers have stayed, old banks, water works and more.
Be sure to visit Bonham House and the Colonial Complex on Market Street, Howard Tunnel on Route 616, Penn Commons Park on W. College Ave. and S. Pershing Avenue, Prospect Hill Cemetery on N. George Street, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial on West Commons and South Pershing Avenues, the William Goodridge Freedom Center and Underground Railroad Museum on E. Philadelphia Street and the William Goodridge Mural on W. Market. On W. Philadelphia Street, look at York Friends Meeting House, the city’s oldest house of worship.
You can also learn about the history of industry in York by going on the Wolfgang Candy Company Factory Tour, the Harley Davidson Factory Tour, Martin’s Potato Chip Factory Tour, Snyder’s of Hanover Factory Tour, York Barbell Factory Tour or the Bluett Violin Shop Tours.
Moving to York
Not only was York, PA, the first capital of U.S., but today it’s a lovely and vibrant place to live and work. If you’re considering moving to the area, CENTURY 21 Core Partners can help you find the right home. Look at the houses available or contact our team for help.