An amazing treasure trove: A walking tour of historic downtown York

Faithful reader Jo is always a great source of insight and just plain “stuff” from York County’s past.

Today’s post is no exception. It’s something she sent me back in January that I’ve been working to get in blog-style form.

Jo had given me a scan of a five-page e-mail that had circulated around about five years ago. She writes, “I make no claims to accuracy. I’m sure people will have their memories jogged and may recall differently.”

Agreed. This might or might not be correct, but at worst, it’ll be fun to see if we can poke any holes in it or add to it! Any information on the original source would be welcomed, too.

I warn you… it’s long. We’ll get started, then please make sure you keep reading! I’ve also tried to link to some of our previous posts when they match up with store titles from this e-mail. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts after you read it!

Do you remember… York

We’re going to start out this little trip down memory lane standing in front of Lehmeyer’s Store, looking at those beautiful clothes. Behind us on the opposite side of the street is The Hotel Penn, Griffith Smith’s Men’s Store, and The Monkey Bar. As we stroll toward Continental Square, we pass the Golden Glow Restaurant and Gregory’s Men’s Store.

Crossing the alley there is The Terminal Luggage Shop. (Is this where you get your luggage when you’re going to die?) Next is Bear’s Shoe Department, remember the big box you stood on and looked down through to see your feet in your new shoes?

Now we’re in the Square and on the corner is Whelan’s Pharmacy and the White Rose Restaurant. Heading around the Square there was Reed’s Millinery, Lovett’s, and Bear’s Men’s Store. There’s the big Bear’s Department Store on the corner. (Remember the elevators with the glass doors?)

Now we’re heading west on Market Street. We pass Sullivan’s Jewelers, Worth’s, Thom McCann Shoes, and Kinney’s Shoes. A little farther down the street was Walker’s Men’s Store, Kay Jewelers, and I’m sure all of the women remember The Deb Shop. Down at the corner of Market and Beaver Sts. were A.S. Beck Shoes and Jack’s.

On the other side of Beaver Street was a People’s Drug Store. Heading west we see stores like White’s Record Shop, The American Legion, Julius Music House, Sears and Roebuck (yes, there was a Sears in downtown York) and Mike’s Nut Shop, with the peanuts roasting right out front of the store on the sidewalk, yum, yum.

Crossing the railroad tracks (Pershing Ave.) there was York Paint and Hardware, Leinhart Bros. Furniture Store, and out on the corner of Market St. and Newberry St. was the original Maple Donuts. Speaking of donuts, if you make a U-turn and head back toward the Square over the tracks, there was The Dixie Creme Donut Shop.

Some stores along that stretch of Market St. were Shaffer’s Flowers, York Fabrics, J.C. Penney (they would take your money and put them in a tube that shot up to somewhere, and then your change would magically reappear down a different tube), and on the corner was The Bon-Ton.

When you are on the corner, look to the right, can you see the WORK radio station sign on the second floor?

Cross the street and there is Joe Weinbrom Jewelers, Woolworth’s, W.T. Grant’s, Adlers, and Wiest’s Department Store. Next is McCrory’s (where I bought my first 45 RPM record, Since I Don’t Have You – Skyliners). Entering the Square once again we pass Ormond’s, Eugene Jacobs, Western Union, and another People’s Drug Store (editor’s note – not Joan, but the original sender – my grandfather decorated the windows for People’s).

Now we are heading south on George Street. We go by Colonial Hotel, The Brooks Hotel, and Crane’s Men’s Store. Crossing King Street was The Hub, Famous Restaurant, Sol Kessler’s where we could by great records (when we didn’t go out to the Disc-A-Rama). Coming back toward town there was Terry’s Menswear on the corner, and you can look up King Street and see Joe Bury’s Restaurant. On to Sunny’s Surplus, Murray’s Menswear, Reineberg Shoes, Hanover Shoes (best Desert Boots in town), and Futer Bros. Jewelry Store on the corner of the Square.

We swing around toward Newswanger Shoe Store, but first we’ll take a pit stop down in the Comfort Stations that were underground. Check the time on the big clock on Murphy’s Store and head east on Market Street, passing these stores: Morris Drug Store, Webb & Wolfe Sporting Goods, Fanny Farmer Candy, Thompson’s Ladies Wear, Crider’s Card Shop, and Stillman’s Department Store.

If you are downtown and you are hungry, some places to eat that haven’t been mentioned are: Bear’s Cafeteria, the tea room on the mezzanine at The Bon-Ton, and The Ramona (where I first came into contact with french fries with gravy on them.)

Places to go swimming in the York area were: Boy’s Club, Pleasureville, Zimmy’s (Spry), Valley Green (Weigelstown), Lincolnway (West York), Springwoods Park, Glady’s (Stewartstown), Playland (remember the penny dive at 4 p.m.?), and Chick-Kwa-Tan (spelling?) at the river.

Next is a listing of movie theaters in the area: Strand, Capitol, Hiway, York-Holiday, Southern, Elmwood, Rialto (West Market), and The Ritz (South George). Drive-ins were: Stony Brook, Lincoln, Trail, and Strinestown.

Choices for bowling are as follows: East York, Scotties, Lincolnway, Twentieth Century, Central, the YMCA and the YWCA (two lanes across the hall from the Rompus Room.)

Dances to go to? Oh yeah, we had some great dances to go to, here they are: Coed (YMCA), Reliance, York Catholic, Teen Canteen, Springetts Fire Hall, Seven Valleys, Fire Hall, Alcazar Ball Room, and White Oak Park.

We all have to stop for a snack now and then, so here are some places to get some vittles: Twin Kiss (root beer floats), Tropical Treat, McCalls (Sherman and the Naval Ordnance Road, now Route 30), Joe Bury’s (15-cent hamburgers), Rutter’s Dairy, Green’s Dairy, Pennsupreme Dairy, Eisenhart’s Dairy, Mack’s Ice Cream, Gino’s, Huntley’s (second fast food place in York, Memory Lane), Avalong Drive-In, Bob & Mim’s, and Melvin’s on East Market St., now Route 83 overpass.

And now the last item on this list is the places we “hung out.” I hope I hit most of them: The Delphia (Phila. St.), Lillian’s Grill (across Penn Park from York High), Sunshine Corner (don’t know where, someone mentioned it to me), The Sweet Shop in the western part of the city, Baylor’s on North George Street in North York, The Cherry Top and Tommy’s Snack Bar, both on South Queen Street, Jimmy’s Subs in the East End, more notably known as “The Hole” because it was downstairs. And I saved the best for last because it was the one place in York that all parents feared:

Yes, I’m talking about The Shady Dell. A place you can go to all night long to eat, dance, and even pick a fight if you want. If you hadn’t gone to “The Dell,” find someone that had, and I’m sure you will hear one story after another about the place.

I hope you enjoyed this trip back into time with me. If you did, would you please pass it along to other “Yorkers” that grew up back in the late 50s and early 60s so they can reflect back on the greatest time to grow up in York, Pa.

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So, did you read all that? Does it match what you recall? I’ve added a LOT of these places to our stores and restaurants of the past directory, but I’m desperate for details, including any clues as to the identity of the originator!

About Joan Concilio

My name is Joan and I'm a lifelong Yorker. Throughout high school and college, I swore I was getting out of here as soon as possible. Now, a few years later, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be. I love my town, and I hear every day from readers who love their towns, too. So please, connect with me and let's share what makes life in York County great. I'm here to help you enjoy this place as much as I do!
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