Here is a tour of York’s Center/Continental Square, featuring the big star that was the centerpiece of the decorations from the late 1940s through the 1950s.
I’m not sure when the star was first fabricated and when it was replaced with other decorations. These photos, showing the square from various angles are dated approximately. They are from the York County Heritage Trust Library and Archives, and are often donated without dates. The photo catalogers then have to make an educated guess based on the stores and automobiles.
As I remember, a similar star was used again not too many years ago, but it too ran its course. Decorations that are subjected to winter rain, snow, ice and wind don’t last forever, so we owe the mid-twentieth century photographers thanks for preserving these scenes so many of us remember from our youth.
Back when there were no malls and just a relative few stores in the downtowns of most of the county’s larger boroughs (except sizable Hanover), many county residents “went to York,” to do serious shopping. Even if your grew up in Chanceford and Windsor townships, like I did, you were quite familiar with the Bon Ton, Bear’s and Wiest’s as well as all the five-and-tens and clothing stores concentrated in York’s center.