We want to share some news about resources that Tabor and Lancaster
Housing Opportunity Partnership (LHOP) have put together to help everyone navigate their
housing and financial challenges during this time of COVID-19. We know that times are very
tough, and we feel for our neighbors. We are rooting for our health care
workers, grocery store workers, law enforcement, emergency responders, delivery
drivers—people who are on the front lines of this fight. And of course,
our team members and our partners at the HomelessnessCoalition, who are making sure that individuals who are especially
vulnerable—people living in the streets, people living in
shelters—are not forgotten and are well supported during this
Tabor’s website, LHOP’s website, and social media channels, you will find a
series of factsheets that will help you to talk to your landlord, talk to your
lender, and to make a plan. We are also putting together a series of videos
over the next few weeks that will help walk through those materials.
We will continue to update this document, so as new
information and materials are available from our legislators in Washington or
other reputable sources, we’ll make sure that information is current
and a great resource to you.
Remember that your friends at Tabor and LHOP are here for you.
We’re rooting for you, and we will get through this thing together.
There’s a good chance you have walked or driven by the three-unit
apartment house at 613 Fremont Street without thinking twice about it. It’s
really not much more remarkable than other nearby houses, except that the lot
is larger than most and there is a privacy fence around it. But the house has a
long remarkable history. In fact, it was the first house built in the central
part of Cabbage Hill.
The two-story, frame house with a gambrel roof, now clad with
modern siding, was built in 1838 as the summer cottage of Miss Catharine “Kitty”
Yeates. The house has had many owners and tenants over the last 180 years. I
will briefly trace its history here, with closer looks at two of its most
interesting owners—Miss Yeates, a wealthy philanthropist, and Alexander J.
Gerz, a Civil War veteran and entrepreneur.
The house’s first owner, Catharine Yeates (1783-1866), was
the daughter of Jasper Yeates, a famous Lancaster lawyer and State Supreme
Court Justice. Starting in 1820, after she had inherited part of her father’s
considerable estate, Catharine bought several tracts of land in what is today
the heart of Cabbage Hill. Her property totaled almost ten acres and, in terms
of today’s streets, was centered on the 500 blocks, and part of the 600 blocks,
of St. Joseph, Poplar, and Fremont.
In 1838, Catharine built her summer cottage (now 613 Fremont)
on the southernmost corner of her property. At that time, there were no other
houses in the area, and there were no streets, only tree-lined dirt paths separating
fenced pastures. A stream starting near Manor Street and ending at South Water
Street, ran in front of her house. The setting was perfect for what she
wanted—a cool place where she could escape from her family’s mansion on South
Queen Street near the square when the summer heat and city life got too oppressive.
Catharine, who never married, lived in her cottage during the
summers for the next fifteen years. She sometimes rented out rooms on the
second floor to various tenants. The property required maintenance, and she had
a caretaker to tend to the lawn and flower beds, the fruit trees and
grapevines, and the fenced pastures where her horses and cattle were kept. The
stream in front of her house, which flowed where New Dorwart is today, supplied
her house, livestock, and chickens with water.
In 1855, Catharine deeded the cottage and all of its
surrounding acreage to her nephew Jasper Yeates Conyngham. Catharine died in
1866, and in her obituary in a Lancaster newspaper, she was praised as “…one of
the most estimable ladies that ever resided in the city…” Perhaps her most
consequential act of philanthropy was the founding and endowment of the Yeates
Institute, a private school in Lancaster intended to prepare students for the
Catharine’s nephew Conyngham did not live in the cottage,
renting it out instead. In 1869, he sold the house and its property to David
Hartman, who was a city tax collector and wealthy real-estate investor. Hartman
later was elected county sheriff. He bought the Yeates property as an
investment for $5,500, and sold it the following year to Alexander J. Gerz for
Gerz (1826-1876) was an immigrant from Lorraine, near the
border of France and Germany, who was part of a successful family pottery
business in Lancaster. He enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War,
serving in the 79th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. Shortly
after returning from the war to Lancaster, he moved with his wife to Mexico,
where he enjoyed success in the pottery business there. He was forced to leave
Mexico during a revolution, and enroute back to Lancaster, his wife died of
yellow fever in New Orleans. Back in Lancaster, he resumed his pottery business,
ran the Eagle Hotel on North Queen, remarried, and had four children.
In 1870, Gerz bought the former Yeates property, where he opened
a hotel and saloon in the summer cottage, calling it the Green Cottage Hotel. He
held events on the property, including dance parties and reunions for his
fellow Civil War veterans. The one-acre lawn around the hotel and saloon
consisted of well-kept grass, flower gardens, and fruit and shade trees. Next
to the hotel on the northwest side was a large pond stocked with a wide variety
of fish. (The site of the pond was an abandoned, short-lived quarry that Gerz
had dug when he discovered marble under his property in 1870.) Also on the
grounds were a small deer park and a large wooden platform (thirty-two feet
square) for dancing. The grounds could be accessed by a bridge over the stream
that ran in front of the hotel.
Gerz died at the age of fifty in 1876. His widow, Margaret,
sold his remaining property, including the cottage, at auction in November
1878. Henry Haverstick bought the cottage property for $2,100. For the sale, the
lot on which the cottage was located was reduced in size to 200 feet square, bordering
on New Dorwart and Fremont.
In 1884, Haverstick sold the property to John Snyder, who was
a hotel proprietor and tobacco merchant. The Snyder family would own the property
and live there for the next forty-five years, with son Michael Snyder taking
over ownership when his father died in 1930. John Snyder built a tobacco
warehouse on the opposite corner of the lot from the cottage, at the
intersection of Poplar and New Dorwart.
A year after John Snyder’s death, his son Michael sold the
property to Harry M. Stumpf. Stumpf was a building contractor and Michael
Snyder’s cousin. He built garages on the property between the cottage and
Poplar, and ran his contracting business from there. He converted the cottage
into two apartments and rented them out. The Stumpf family was prominent on the
Hill and in Lancaster for many years. Harry’s father, John, owned a hotel in
the 400 block of Manor Street, and Harry’s brother, Edward, owned a service
station and garage in the 500 block of Fremont, and also was the owner of
Stumpf Field along the Fruitville Pike.
In 1952, Harry Stumpf sold the lot with the cottage to Samuel
Lombardo for $15,000. Lombardo and his wife Elsie got divorced in 1956. Elsie
got the cottage, remarried to Maurice Brady, and lived in the cottage until her
death in 1991. Elsie and Maurice added a third apartment to the house, living
in the main apartment themselves and renting out the other two. The house remains
divided into three apartments to this day.
To be sure, Miss Yeates’ 1838 summer cottage has changed a
lot over the years. It no longer sits all by itself in the middle of pasture
land. It doesn’t have a stream in its front yard. It has been added to and
modified numerous times. But the basic structure of the cottage is still
intact. The next time you pass the house at 613 Fremont, try to visualize it as
it was 150 years ago, when it was a hotel and saloon surrounded by well-kept
grounds that were home to a fish pond and a deer park. It’s just one more
example of all the history hiding just below the surface on Cabbage Hill.
SoWe is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and reviewing best practices. To ensure everyone’s health and safety and to do our part to encourage social distancing, all SoWe Committee and board meetings will be cancelled for the month of March. The SoWe Office at 417 Poplar St. and the LHOP main office at 123 E. King St. are closed to at this time.
New information about the outbreak is occurring in real
time and we are following updates as they become available. I encourage
everyone to follow PA
Department of Health and the CDC’s
recommendations. SoWe and LHOP staff continue to work remotely to make sure
clients have the resources they need to continue to thrive. Please remember
that this is a difficult time for our most vulnerable neighbors. Please take
this opportunity to check in with each other especially our elderly neighbors;
please make sure you follow proper health recommendations while doing so.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this
time. Please feel free to reach out SoWe staff at (717)455-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
moving pictures as they were first known, were invented in the 1890s. Within
ten years, theaters devoted to showing movies began to proliferate. The first four
large movie theaters in Lancaster were built between 1911 and 1914. They were
the Colonial, Hippodrome, and Grand on North Queen Street, and the Kuhn on
Manor Street. The three downtown theaters were more opulent and charged higher
prices than the Kuhn, which was established to serve the working-class southwest
Theatre, also sometimes known as Kuhn’s Theatre, opened in March 1911. Adam
Kuhn was a German immigrant who attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and who
for many years, ran a successful bakery on East Chestnut Street. After much of
his bakery was destroyed in a fire, he decided to retire from the baking
business and venture into the new movie-theater business. He sold the damaged bakery
in September 1910 and a month later he used the proceeds to buy a large lot in
the 600 block of Manor Street for $1,950 (the lot was actually purchased in the
name of Mary, his wife). On that lot, Kuhn built the Kuhn Theatre, which would
eventually become the Strand Theatre and continue showing movies until 1962.
The Kuhn was
located at 605-609 Manor on a large lot that extended to Reiker Avenue, and it stood
nearly alone on that part of the block when it was first built. The brick theater
had 40 feet of frontage on Manor, widening to 70 feet where the screen and
stage were at the rear of the building. The building was 205 feet long, with a
two-and-a-half-story brick house attached to the rear of the theater, in which
the Kuhn family lived. The original theater, which could seat 400 people, was heated
by steam and had both gas and electric lights. (The former site of the now
demolished theater is a parking lot next to B&M Sunshine Laundry.)
Adam Kuhn’s new
career in the movie-theater business did not last very long. He died in the
fall of 1912. Edward J. Kuhn, Adam’s son, took over ownership of the theater. Like
most movie theaters in the early days, it not only offered movies, but also
offered other types of entertainment such as vaudeville acts and band music. Kuhn
also rented out the theater for use by others; one example was the Salvation Army
for evangelistic services in 1914.
shown at the Kuhn were quite primitive, black-and-white, silent movies that
featured exaggerated acting and were usually about 15-45 minutes long. Each
movie consisted of one to three reels of film; if there was more than one reel,
the projectionist had to rewind and change the reels while the audience waited.
The movies were accompanied by live piano music. Kuhn charged a nickel for most
movies, and a dime for special events.
operated the theater through 1913, but in early 1914, he put the theater up for
sale at auction. The advertisement for the public sale, held in the theater in
February 1914, noted that the theater had been “a good money maker”. The
highest bid was $15,000, but that was less than Kuhn thought it was worth, so
the theater was withdrawn from sale. Kuhn tried again two weeks later, but
again the theater was withdrawn from sale. Six months later, in August 1914,
the theater was seized and sold to cover Kuhn’s debts. The Northern Trust
Company bought the theater for $7,300. A couple months later, in October 1914,
the Northern Trust Company sold it to two theater operators from Philadelphia
The two new owners, Peter Oletzky and Michael Lessy, changed the name of the theater to the Lancaster Theatre, and continued to offer movies and other forms of entertainment while remodeling the theater and increasing the seating capacity to about 900. By January 1916, a new theater manager had been brought on from Philadelphia. While movies were still the theater’s mainstay, other large events were held to augment the theater’s income. One such event was an April 1916 show put on by the Eighth Ward Minstrels accompanied by the St. Joseph’s Church orchestra and choir that attracted more than 1,000 people.
A big change
in the program of the Lancaster Theatre was the addition of boxing matches. A
boxing ring was set up on the stage for these events, and well-known local and
regional boxers would stage matches that attracted packed houses. One example
was a bout between Cabbage Hill’s own Leo Houck and Dummy Ketchell of Baltimore.
Lancaster Theatre got another new manager in October 1916, and he announced a
new policy of “musical comedy playlets of the higher class and unexcelled
photoplays”. The opening act under this new policy was Rowe and Kusel’s Big
Girlie Musical Review, an act that may have indeed been a change for the
family-oriented audiences of the Hill. Prices were 5, 10, or 15 cents,
depending on the seats. On the downside, because of competition from other
attractions in the summer months, the Lancaster Theatre closed down for the
entire summer in 1917.
spring of 1919, the theater had changed hands again, and was doing business
under the name of the Manor Theatre. Movies and boxing matches continued to be
the two main draws. Movies had become much more sophisticated in the eight
years since the theater had opened. They were still silent, but they had become
longer, with more natural performances, and instead of anonymous actors, they
now had recognizable stars who drew people to their movies. They also were now
being made in Hollywood, California, instead of New York and New Jersey.
attractions drew crowds as well, such as a 7-foot eel caught by George Schaller,
a neighborhood cigarmaker, in January 1920. Schaller put the eel in his
backyard to freeze it solid, and then put it on display in the Manor Theatre. However,
a monster eel was apparently not enough to meet the Manor’s profit
expectations, and the theater was sold again in the spring of 1920, this time
to George Bennethum of Philadelphia for $15,000. He remodeled the theater, updated
its projection equipment, and changed the name of the theater to the Strand, a
name it would keep until it closed 40 years later. Movies were still the staple,
but boxing and other events also were staged. For instance, in the winter of
1921-22, the Duquesne Boxing Club leased the theater for its winter season of
In 1928, the
Strand Theatre was sold to Harry Chertkoff, a Latvian immigrant who would own
it until he died in 1960. Chertkoff went on to own numerous other theaters in
Lancaster County, including the King Theater and the Sky-Vue and Comet drive-ins.
His first infrastructure improvement at the Strand was to outfit it for sound
to accommodate the industry’s switch to movies with soundtracks. Chertkoff also
made major renovations to the Strand in 1933 with the addition of improved acoustics
and speakers, and again in 1939 with air conditioning and new seats. He also
continued the practice of keeping prices as low as possible. In 1948, when
Lancaster City instituted a 10% amusement tax, Chertkoff upped his prices to a
still modest 37 cents for adults and 15 cents for children.
Chertkoff’s death in 1960, his son-in-law Morton Brodsky took over his business
interests. The Strand had been losing money for several years, probably related
at least partly to the rising popularity of television. In 1962, the theater stopped
showing movies, and Brodsky decided to sell the property. While searching for
someone to buy the lot and building, Brodsky proceeded to sell the seats,
projection equipment, and screen. When the theater building didn’t sell, he
decided to just tear it down, and in November 1964, the Strand was demolished.
Brodsky stated that he was exploring several options for the site, but in the
short term it would be graded and used for parking, which turned out to be the
long-term plan as well, as the site is still a parking lot today.
Kuhn/Lancaster/Manor/Strand Theatre was Lancaster’s only neighborhood theater;
all the others were downtown. It was the entertainment center of the Hill,
providing movies and other amusements at reasonable prices to Hill residents
for more than 50 years. Many a child had his or her early movie experience in
the theater, including yours truly in the early 1960s. The 1964 demolition of
the last incarnation of the theater, the Strand, not only left a physical gap
in the 600 block of Manor, but also a gap in the social and cultural
environment on the Hill.
Applications are now open for Lancaster City’s Love Your Block, Park Adoption Mini-Grants, and the Neighborhood Leaders Academy!
Want to clean up your stretch of road? Have a project idea
on how to fix a local issue? Love Your Block provides funds of $500-$2000 for
community-led projects addressing issues surround litter, urban blight, and
façade improvements. The projects must affect the whole block and require a
coalition of at least 5 neighbors from 3 different households. Americorps
VISTAS, Renee and Christian, will assist with project management, scheduling,
budgeting and implementation, so don’t worry about needing experience. Find
more information about Love Your Block, along with an online application here.
Additionally, Lancaster has a Park Adoption grant that also
provides $500-$2000 for projects improving and expanding the usability of local
parks or green spaces. Find more information about Park Adoption, along with an
online application here.
Applications for both grants are due by March 20, 2020. They
can be submitted online or, physical versions can be mailed to City Hall at 120
N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA.
The Neighborhood Leaders Academy is open for applications as well! The program is a six-month training and grant program for community leaders to imagine, develop, test and realize projects that build community and provide positive outcomes. The program will empower leaders in all Lancaster neighborhoods to encourage one another, identify problems, plan projects to beautify the neighborhood and remedy issues, and celebrate the community and each other. Applications are due March 27th, 2020. For more information click here.
Farnum (now Culliton), Rodney, Brandon, and Crystal Parks in southwest
Lancaster City, and before larger regional parks such as Rocky Springs, People’s,
and Maple Grove, there was a large park known as Schoenberger’s Park on the
eastern edge of Cabbage Hill. It was a popular place for various family and social
gatherings in the 1870s and 1880s. Unfortunately, it also was home to a gang that
plagued the park and all of southern Lancaster for many years.
August Schoenberger was three years old in 1851 when he immigrated to Lancaster
from Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, with his parents, August and Catharine
Schoenberger. His father was a wealthy brewer, and William learned the brewing
trade working in his father’s saloon on the east side of North Queen Street above
In 1869, when
William was 21, he purchased a little more than nine acres of rugged land on
the eastern slope of Cabbage Hill just west of Hoffman’s Run. Hoffman’s Run was
a stream that ran north-south along Water Street until its last surviving reach
was buried in a sewer in the late 1800s. The nine acres that Schoenberger
bought was a mixture of meadows and woods, and was bounded on the west by what
is now the southern leg of New Dorwart Street, on the north by the old gas works,
on the east by Hoffman’s Run, and on the south by Hazel Street.
By the early
1870s, Schoenberger had built a two-story brick hotel with six rooms and a saloon,
which became known as Schoenberger’s Hotel. The hotel was on a level spot on a slight
rise on the west bank of Hoffman’s Run, behind what is now the Spring House
Brewing Company. A boarded-up, cinder-block warehouse stands near the site now.
Schoenberger built a large beer vault that was used to store his beer, as well
as the beer of other Lancaster breweries, most notably Wacker Brewery. The beer
vault was 68 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 14 feet high, with an arched ceiling.
Schoenberger left the rest of the land in meadows and woods, creating a
park-like setting that would attract the residents of Lancaster.
to Schoenberger’s Park was a bridge over Hoffman’s Run about 200 feet south of
Conestoga Street, due south of what is now Conlin Field in Culliton Park. An
avenue shaded by planted trees wound its way through a meadow along the west
bank of Hoffman’s Run and then up a slight rise to the hotel. The hotel, which
had gardens of flowers planted around it, was on the edge of the more rugged,
steep, forested part of the park to the west. A wooden dance floor encircled a
large tree near the hotel. An old-timer, Charles A. Kirchner, recalled in 1938
that “people went for walks and picnics in the park”, and that it was “a
beautiful place with grass and trees—some fruit trees…”
to a place for people to take walks and enjoy picnics, the park quickly became
a popular spot for larger gatherings. In the 1870s, various clubs and other
organizations held events there. Many of the events were “sociables” that
involved music and dancing, organized by groups such as the Eighth Ward Club,
the Sun Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 (William Schoenberger was a member),
and the Keystone Drum Corps. Daniel Clemmens’ City Band, the Fiddlers Three,
and Godfried Ripple’s String Band were some of the providers of dance music.
Other events included political rallies (the Meadow Reform Club of the Fourth
Ward), pigeon shoots with turkeys as prizes, and Temperance Mass Meetings. One
well-attended event was an ox roast in honor of the visiting Allentown Cornet
Schoenberger was deep in debt by 1876, and his park, along with his hotel, had
to be sold at auction to repay his debts. Benjamin Greider bought the property
at a sheriff’s sale. Schoenberger moved back in with his widowed mother at his
late father’s saloon on North Queen and helped run the saloon there for a few
years. Eventually, he had a long career as a bank messenger for the Lancaster
Trust Company, dying at the age of 73 in 1922. The park continued to be known
as Schoenberger’s Park for another 15 years after Schoenberger last owned it,
but the hotel became known as Snyder’s Saloon when Greider brought on Michael
Snyder, and then Michael’s son Adam, to run it, which they did into the late
The park and
its hotel had a good run in the 1870s and 1880s, but the combination of wayward
young men, a secluded wooded setting, and beer, often led to violence and criminal
activities. As early as 1875, drunken fights broke out and people were injured,
thieves broke into the beer vault and stole kegs, and passersby were harassed
and assaulted. The saloonkeepers didn’t always help their cause, as both
Schoenberger and the Snyders were charged with selling beer on Sundays, which
was against the law.
even worse with the rise of the Meadow Gang in the late 1870s. A group of
several dozen young troublemakers took advantage of the relative remoteness of
the park to make it their hangout. By the mid-1880s, incidents were happening
with increasing frequency. The city police could spare little manpower to the
“suburbs” of southern Lancaster, but they tried to respond when they could. Often
when the police were summoned, by the time they got to Schoenberger’s Park, the
Meadow Gang was long gone.
Some of the
nefarious activities of the Meadow Gang included: Saloonkeeper Michael Snyder was injured when
hit by a chair in a fight with the Meadow Gang. A large amount of lead was
stolen by the Meadow Gang from a plumbing shop on South Queen. A young man was
seriously injured in a fight between the Meadow Gang and some young men from
the Schiffler Fire Company. The Meadow Gang threatened to kill a man who had
leased part of the park for grazing his cattle. Five members of the Meadow Gang
were arrested for breaking into a railroad car near Hazel. The Meadow Gang ran
a plow through a nearby field of tobacco and potatoes, damaging the crops.
nasty incident caused an uproar among the people of the city, and probably had
something to do with the decline of the park. In the summer of 1885, a young
girl 16 or 17 years of age claimed to have escaped from the Meadow Gang after
having been held by them for two months in the area of the park. She claimed
that she had been poorly fed and assaulted numerous times. Subsequent
investigation into her claims revealed some inconsistencies in her story, to
the point that it was not clear exactly what had actually happened. However,
the damage had been done, the public was outraged, and the reputation of
Schoenberger’s Park suffered.
The Meadow Gang
was active in the park and the rest of southern Lancaster well into the early
1900s, with some of the same men staying active in the gang for more than 20
years. Even as late as the early 1920s, the Meadow Gang was still causing sporadic
trouble. By the late 1920s, however, the gang disappeared from the scene. Strangely,
as time passed, memories of the Meadow Gang seemed to soften, with their less
severe antics remembered somewhat fondly and their more serious crimes downplayed.
In 1931, one
Lancaster newspaper even did a feature story on the old Meadow Gang, with a
headline, “Meadow Gang 1880s Flaming Youth”, comparing them to the harmlessly rowdy
youth of the Roaring Twenties. In the article, an original member of the Meadow
Gang was interviewed and claimed that the more serious crimes attributed to the
gang had not actually been committed by its members. According to him, they
were just young men acting out, with no serious offenses to their name. True or
not, the Meadow Gang was instrumental in changing the park from a nice place to
visit to a dangerous adventure.
The park was purchased by Stephen Owens in 1889, and a small limestone quarry was opened on its western edge, on the lower slope near the hotel/saloon. Owens then sold part of the park to the Lancaster Gas Light and Fuel Company in 1895 to expand the gas plant. By the mid-1890s, the hotel was gone, and much of the land was subdivided for building lots. Streets were laid out and houses began to be built on the slope above where the hotel had been. The 25-year run of Schoenberger’s Park was over. By then, new city parks had been established, and memories of Schoenberger’s Park began to fade.
site where bands once played and people once danced, and where the Meadow Gang
once roamed, has become the home of Spring House Brewing Company and the first
blocks of New Dorwart and Hillside off Hazel. It’s hard to visualize now, but
there used to be a “beautiful place with grass and trees” called Schoenberger’s
Park in southwest Lancaster more than 125 years ago.
“The narrow, icy path in the middle of the long and very steep
grade was as smooth as glass and the sleds dashed down the icy incline at a
speed which nearly took one’s breath.” (January 1892)
Coasting, or sledding as many of us know it today, was once a major
form of entertainment during winters in Lancaster, drawing both hundreds of
participants as well as thousands of spectators. It was mostly done in the
evening, using a variety of sled types, on all the hilliest streets in the
city. The steepest and most dangerous coasting spot, and therefore the most
popular among Lancaster’s more adventurous young people, was Dinah’s Hill on
West Vine Street, on the northeast edge of Cabbage Hill.
Dinah’s Hill, named for Dinah McIntire, an old African-American
fortune teller who lived there, is the northernmost of Cabbage Hill’s two
hills, with its highest point along West Strawberry Street between Lafayette
and West Vine Streets. West Vine drops steeply from West Strawberry to South
Water, at a grade of about 12%, which makes it an ideal street for fast
coasting, especially when the snow gets packed down and becomes like ice. It’s
no wonder that Dinah’s Hill was the hill of choice for Lancaster’s young
coasters, and for the many spectators who came to watch them risk their lives
Coasting down West Vine was a dangerous sport. Lancaster’s
newspapers carried numerous stories of injured coasters every winter from the
early 1870s to the late 1920s. The injuries ranged from bruises to deep cuts to
concussions to broken bones. More than once, particularly violent accidents
left young coasters unconscious and word would spread that they had been
killed. One young coaster actually did die from his injuries in 1875. Doctors
in the vicinity of Dinah’s Hill were kept busy on the evenings following
snowfalls and ice storms.
The dangers of coasting on Dinah’s Hill were several. The most
serious risk came at the intersections of streets that crossed West Vine, such
as Arch, Water, and Prince. Wagons and carriages, and later cars and trucks,
crossing West Vine often were the cause of coasting accidents. Pedestrians
crossing West Vine also were hit by coasters. But the most serious crossing
risk was at Water Street, where trains of the Quarryville Railroad would rumble
across West Vine. Other obstacles were lampposts, telegraph poles, trees, and
other coasters. Following a spill, the riders strewn across the street were at
risk of being run over by the next sled coming down.
A wide variety of sleds were used. Many coasters used small one-
or two-person bent-wood sleds with iron rails, but they were sometimes
outnumbered by larger sleds such as toboggans and bobsleds. These longer sleds
often carried six, and as many as 12-15, riders. One particularly large
toboggan-like sled reportedly used in the southeast part of the city was
22 feet long and carried 30 riders. A popular form of the longer sleds
used in Lancaster was the “modoc”, which could carry as many as a dozen
On evenings with favorable coasting weather, more than 500
spectators would line West Vine between Strawberry and Prince. On at least one
occasion, a crowd of 2,000 onlookers was reported. On evenings like these,
coasting was especially dangerous due to the number of people who might be
standing and walking along and on the street. Pedestrian involvement in
accidents was not uncommon.
Young people being young people, there was usually some
competition to see who could go the fastest, and races would be staged, adding
to the risk on a narrow street. The slight rise in Water Street where the
railroad tracks were located provided a chance for a sudden bump and jump for
the most daring coasters. At times, coasters would turn around after reaching
Queen and start coasting back down to Water, against the flow of sled traffic,
but the danger of head-on collisions was too high and the police would usually
prohibit this practice.
There was a constant struggle between coasters and city
authorities to maintain some sort of balance between entertainment and safety.
Several times, after particularly close calls or serious injuries, the mayor
would impose a curfew, have ashes spread on the icy roads, or temporarily close
down coasting altogether. But each year the coasters would be back and the
struggle would be renewed. It was difficult to police hundreds of young people
on numerous hills throughout the city over several hours each evening.
Residents who were affected by the coasting, as well as businesses and the
railroad, complained each year until the mayor had to get involved once
The newspapers seem to have covered the coasting scene with a bit
of a sensationalistic approach. The accidents were usually the reason for the
articles, and the headlines were almost always about the injuries. One can
picture eager reporters near the bottom of the hill rushing out into the street
to accident scenes to record the names of the injured and their injuries. And
the language used in the newspaper articles was typically breathless, if not
sometimes downright lurid.
Here are a few snippets from newspapers that provide a flavor of
the coasting phenomenon on Dinah’s Hill in its heyday from the 1870s to the
1920s, starting with the earliest newspaper story I could find:
“From time immemorial, ‘Dinah’s Hill’, located in the Southern
part of this city, has been quite a resort, in sledding seasons, for juveniles.
Its length and gradual declivity gives it preponderance, and hence the rush.
Last evening the hill was crowded with smiling urchins, male and female.” (January 1871)
“…on some nights the number of persons who came to ‘Dinah’s Hill’
merely to look on, ran into the thousands! It was one of the “sights of the
town” and afforded more thrills per minute to onlookers or participants in the
fun than any boxing match…” (April 1929)
“A collision was then inevitable, and the sled struck the team (of
horses) with terrific force. Both boys were hurled to the ground, and by many
believed to be killed. Both were unconscious and lay bleeding in the street.” (December 1902)
”A very painful accident occurred last night to a young man of
about twenty years of age, named Martin Metzroth, while coasting down Dinah’s
Hill. By some means the sled ran against a tree, striking the young man’s knee
with great force against the latter, and knocking the knee-cap off.” (January 1873)
“…four boys on a sled shooting down ‘Dinah’s Hill’ almost ran into a
Quarryville engine. They escaped by throwing themselves off. The driving wheel
hit their sled and broke it.” (January 1903)
“John Kane, aged 12 years, and son of Patrick Kane, residing on
West Vine Street, met with a serious accident on Tuesday evening. While coasting
on Dinah’s Hill, he was run into by a sleigh and his heel was struck and badly
bruised. Dr. A.J. Herr dressed the wound, but the boy may be permanently
“We have heard of many strange accidents. We know of cases of
boys, who, in coasting on Dinah’s Hill, have gone under railroad trains without
injury. Others have hit automobiles, or, in avoiding them, they have struck
trees and pedestrians.” (January 1925)
“…Mrs. R. Frank….stepped directly into the path of a bob-sled speeding down
Dinah’s Hill with over a dozen boys and girls aboard. The woman was knocked
down and sustained lacerations of the forehead and chin.” (January 1925)
“…one of the coasters, Francis Suter, who, in coming down Dinah’s
Hill at a fearful rate of speed, ran his sled and his head against a lamp-post
with so much force, that it is feared he will lose one of his eyes.” (February 1872)
“…a badly-frightened motorist reported to police that he had narrowly
escaped colliding with a big bob-sled that had streaked across South Prince
Street right in front of his car. After the close shave, he said, he stopped
the car and was immediately surrounded by a group of angry sledders, who
claimed he hadn’t sounded his horn.” (February 1924)
“…several yards before the crossing, the locomotive hove into view.
The youths desperately rolled off the sled, tumbling over and over and picking
up a variety of ice burns as their vehicle slammed into the wheels of the train
and was ground to bits.” (January 1903)
“While Oscar Erb, aged ten years, was coasting on Dinah’s Hill on
Thursday evening, he fell off his sled and the sleigh following him, struck the
lad. His head was cut open, and he was otherwise bruised about the body.” (February 1914)
“Yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock as three boys were descending
Dinah’s Hill on a sled, they came in collision with a six-horse team that was
coming up Prince Street. The sled struck the lead horse and frightened him,
rendering him for a moment unmanageable. The boys fell headlong under the
horse’s feet, and were in imminent danger of being trampled to death by their
hoofs, or crushed beneath the wheels of the heavy wagon. Luckily they escaped
unhurt, but the sled was smashed all to pieces.” (February 1873)
“John Kress, the young man who had his leg shattered several weeks ago while coasting on Dinah’s Hill, and who has suffered terribly ever since the accident, died of lock-jaw about 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon.” (February 1875)
After the 1920s, the increasing number of cars driving on the streets and parked along the curbs, as well as more and more safety precautions on the part of city officials, put a gradual end to the glory days of street coasting in Lancaster. Today, coasting doesn’t seem to be as popular, and most of those who do go coasting do so at parks and other open areas, rather than on city streets. For many years, though, the youth of Lancaster had their fun, and risked their lives, coasting down the best hill in the city—West Vine Street on Dinah’s Hill.
St. Joseph Catholic Church was founded in 1849, when a group of German parishioners from St. Mary’s Catholic Church convinced the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that a second Catholic church was needed in Lancaster to serve the growing German population on Cabbage Hill. The new church quickly became the spiritual, cultural, and social hub of the Hill, roles that it continues to fill today. Here, in honor of the church’s 170th anniversary, are nine factoids about the church’s early years, some of which may be familiar and others which may not.
Lot purchase: The lot on which St. Joseph Church was built was purchased for $260 from Casper Hauck on January 8, 1850, by Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick of the Diocese of Philadelphia, on behalf of “the German Catholics of the City of Lancaster”. The lot, which was on the southeast slope of Dinah’s Hill, was 137 feet wide and 191 feet long, and had no buildings on it. In fact, at the time the lot was purchased, there were no buildings at all on the first two blocks of the streets that would soon become West Vine, St. Joseph, Poplar, and Fremont. The lot and the land surrounding it were pastures.
Church and street names: The original St. Joseph Church, the first ethnic Catholic church in the U.S., was built in 1850. Although it was St. Joseph Church from day one, it was commonly known around Lancaster as the “German Catholic Church” for its first few years. Also, when the church was built in 1850, the street on which it fronted was known as Union Street (not to be confused with today’s Union Street, which didn’t yet exist in 1850). Then, for a brief time, the street appears to have been known as West Washington Street. Finally, by the mid-1850s, at about the time the church became commonly known as St. Joseph Church, the street became St. Joseph Street.
First building: The original church was 50 feet wide
and 105 feet deep, and it seated about 350 people. Its cornerstone was laid in
May 1850, it went under roof in the fall of 1850, and it was consecrated in
December 1850. It was made of brick, had a slate roof, and had five tall
windows on each long side. There was a basement for the school and society
meetings, and a small tower at the front entrance. By 1852, the tower had been
built taller and a wooden spire had been added. By 1854, the finishing touches
were completed—adding pews, finishing the basement, installing an organ, adding
the altar, installing bells in the tower, and adding a clock with four faces in
Pastor conflict: St. Joseph’s had five pastors in its
first five years. The third pastor was John Dudas, a young Hungarian priest who
turned out to be a controversial choice. He had only served about five months
when his pastoral assignment was revoked by the Diocese of Philadelphia because
he had taken sides in political matters and had consorted a little too freely
with Lutherans. In March 1852, he was asked to vacate the rectory next to the
church, but refused to do so until the church paid him some money he was owed.
Dudas then refused to open the church for a funeral, and when he left the
locked church and went downtown for breakfast, a group of church founders broke
into the building and threw his belongings out on the street. Dudas pressed
charges against the offending parishioners but a verdict of not guilty was
delivered. He quickly left his post at St. Joseph’s, and within a few years he
had become a pastor of a Christian congregation in Constantinople, Turkey.
Cemetery: The lot purchased in 1850 did not
include the cemetery that is now southwest of the church. Early burials took
place in a narrow strip along the northeast side of the church where the
driveway to the left of the church is today. The current cemetery lot next to
the rectory seems to have been acquired by the late 1850s. The early graves on
the northeast side of the church were moved to the larger cemetery on the
southwest side in 1881 to make room for a new school building.
Political dispute: The German immigrants on the Hill had always been staunch Democrats, and were not shy about voicing their views on political matters. In early July 1863, just days after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln, a Republican, declared a new military draft to replenish the Union troops. Many members of St. Joseph Church, including a small group of about a dozen vociferous German women, disagreed with the draft and a large demonstration took place at the Courthouse on July 16, as draftees were about to start signing up. The demonstration was led by the German women, and a major riot was just barely averted. In his sermon the following Sunday, Pastor Schwartz of St. Joseph’s admonished his parishioners, especially the women who were “a disgrace to their womanhood”, making it known that good citizens of this country must obey its laws whether they agree with them or not.
Unique construction approach: By the early to mid-1880s, the
growing number of St. Joseph’s parishioners necessitated a larger church. To
avoid missing any Masses, a clever approach was taken to replace the old
smaller church with a new larger one. The new church was to be 15 wider, 54
feet longer, and significantly taller than the old one. The church leaders
decided to build the new church around the old one, enabling the congregation
to continue to have Mass in the old church while the new one was being built.
When the external structure of the new church was completed, the basement of
the old church was set up for Mass, and the congregation then worshipped in the
basement while the old church was dismantled and taken out from inside the new
one. When the old church had been removed, Mass was held in the new church
while the finishing touches were completed on the interior. Even the extensive
painting and frescoing in the upper reaches inside the new church did not
prevent the use of the church for Mass. Scaffolding that would have interfered
with Mass was not required, as the artisans doing the high decorative work did
so from scaffolds hung from ropes through holes in the roof. When the new
church was completed in 1885, the only vestige of the old church that remained
was the tower and spire, and even that had been modified a bit to harmonize
better with the taller roof.
The builders: The new 1885 St. Joseph Church building, which seated more than 1,100 people, was designed by William Shickel, New York City. The principal contractor for the construction of the building and the finishing of the interior was Dionysius Rapp. John Mentzer and William Westman supplied the stone. The stone-cutting was done by Zeltman & Cron. Krieg & Streiner did the stone steps. Henry Drachbar laid the bricks and the lumber was provided by Sener & Sons and Baumgardner, Eberman, and Co. William Wohlsen provided the millwork. The plumbing was done by L.H. Bachler, and George M. Steinman & Co. provided the hardware. Jerome Dosch & Son did the plastering and Leonard Yeager did the painting.
German craftsmen: Tradition has it that the craftsmen and artisans who built the larger St. Joseph Church in the mid-1880s were German immigrants who lived on the Hill. This is mostly true. Indeed, nearly all of the principal contractors and companies were of German heritage, and about half of them had been born in Germany. Dionysius Rapp, Krieg & Streiner, Jerome Dosch & Son, and Leonard Yeager had their businesses on the Hill, while the remaining contractors were from other parts of Lancaster City. Most of the laborers on the contractors’ crews were no doubt Germans from the Hill. The gravestone of superintendent Dionysius Rapp and his wife Rosina still stands near Poplar Street in Old St. Joseph’s Cemetery.
much more to the story of this venerable old church on the Hill. Another 135
years of history has happened since the mid-1880s when the present-day church
was built. The gravestones of the Old St. Joseph Cemetery adjacent to the
church represent many interesting stories of the church’s founders, some of
which may be explored in future posts on this site.
As many of you know, St. Joseph Church has willingly allowed SoWe to occupy office space in one of its buildings, and to hold monthly Board meetings in another of its buildings. Happy 170th anniversary from SoWe to the centerpiece of Cabbage Hill!
We are all familiar with stories of immigrants who arrived
in America with nothing and ended up being very successful. In fact, Cabbage
Hill has had its share of German immigrants who were very successful through
some combination of talent, ambition, hard work, perseverance, and luck. But no
less important to the progress of the Hill were the many hundreds of German
immigrants who struggled for years just to get by.
The great majority of German immigrants to the Hill in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries were only able to
achieve modest success, and for many, the fruits of their struggles only
accrued to their children or grandchildren, who often succeeded because of the
foundation laid by their parents’ and grandparents’ struggles. The small
successes of these struggling immigrants, in aggregate, helped build a strong,
resilient neighborhood. Their stories, as painful as some of them are, are an
important part of the history of Cabbage Hill.
One such story is that of Georg Friedrich Mosser (George
Moser), who arrived in New York City from Bavaria, Germany, on May 8, 1906. He
was a single, 23-year-old laborer with $25 in his pocket. He was quickly processed
through Ellis Island and got on a train to Lancaster, where he came to meet up with
his friend Frank Bernauer on St. Joseph Street. George got a job as a laborer
at a brewery, and started what he hoped would be a successful life in America.
Back in Bavaria, George had fathered two children (Theresa
and Alphonse) with Rosa Reitberger, a woman five years his senior, who also had
relatives and friends who had immigrated to Lancaster. A year later, in 1907,
Rosa followed George to Lancaster, leaving her two young children with her
widowed mother in Bavaria. On November 19, 1907, George Moser and Rosa
Reitberger were married at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
In 1909, as they were getting settled in their new life on
the Hill, George and Rosa brought daughter Theresa and son Alphonse to
Lancaster from Germany, along with Rosa’s mother, Anna. One month after Anna,
Theresa, and Alphonse arrived in 1909, George and Rosa bought a two-story frame
house at 662 Poplar Street for $1,050. George and Rosa had two more children
(Mary and George Henry) in 1908 and 1910. The Moser family unit had been
established. Things were going according to plan.
George became an American citizen in 1912, and for the next
eight years, he worked in various capacities at breweries in Lancaster,
including laborer, brewer, and delivery wagon driver. He was arrested but found
not guilty of assaulting a strikebreaker at Sprenger Brewery. He was elected
vice-president of the Brewery Workers labor organization. By 1920, he was
working at Empire Brewery on Locust Street.
Although George was having some success in the brewery
business, he and Rosa had to borrow money several times in the 1910s, and each
time they were unable to keep up with payments on the resulting debts. They
were sued by their creditors and were just barely keeping up with the required
payback plans handed down by judges in civil court.
Then, Prohibition took effect in January 1920, and it became
illegal to make, sell, or transport alcoholic beverages. The Empire Brewery
closed and George’s income from the brewery industry was suddenly gone. Out of
necessity, George started his own business—peddling ice. He had a wagon and two
horses (Jim and Dick) to pull it, and he and his 16-year-old son Alphonse began
selling blocks of ice around Lancaster. His was one of eighteen ice-peddling operations
delivering ice from the Lancaster Ice Manufacturing Company at Engleside. He ran
his ice business out of the rear of the Moser house at 662 Poplar. To augment
the family income, daughter Theresa worked as a weaver at the Conestoga Steam
Cotton Mills on South Prince Street.
The ice business must have seemed promising. In 1921, George
and Rosa purchased another two-story frame house and three lots at 615 Fremont
Street for $1,500. They likely had to borrow money to make the purchase, but
they must have thought the investment would pay off in the long run. When their
daughter Theresa married Charles Kirchner in 1922, the new couple moved into
the house on Fremont. George and Rosa continued to live with the rest of their
family at 662 Poplar, and George and his son Alphonse continued to peddle ice.
Soon, the youngest son, George Henry, was old enough to help in the ice
business as well. Alphonse also worked for a while at the Conestoga Steam
Cotton Mills, and daughter Mary took a job at the Follmer-Clogg silk mill on
Manor Street to help out.
Despite all the hard work, the Mosers still struggled
financially. Several times between 1920 and 1925, they were again unable to pay
back various loans, and they were taken to civil court and ordered to pay off
the loans, which they seem to have somehow done. Then, in 1924, their son
Alphonse left Lancaster, and George lost a key pair of hands to help in the ice
business. Again, out of financial necessity, George and Rosa decided to start a
second new business—a café.
By 1927, they had established a café in the first floor of
their house at 615 Fremont, and sold “light lunch and tobaccos”, as their sign
on the front door stated. Daughter Theresa and her husband Charles continued
living upstairs, and an extra room was rented to boarders. George brought on
Philip Kirchner, a cousin of son-in-law Charles, to run the day-to-day café
business. When Theresa and Charles moved out of the upstairs living quarters,
George and Rosa rented out their rooms as well and the café became known as a
hotel. George continued to peddle ice, with his son George Henry’s help, and daughter
Mary continued to work at the silk mill. It seemed that George and Rosa and
their family were finally going to be able to make ends meet, but things were
about to take a turn for the worse.
George had purchased a touring car and in April 1927, he had
a serious accident on Lincoln Highway East near Bridgeport. His car was
demolished and he was taken to the hospital with what was feared to be a
fractured skull, a broken jaw, and broken ribs. Fortunately, his injuries
turned out to be only severe cuts and bruises. In October 1927, he had another
accident in which his car was broadsided and overturned at the intersection of
Manor and Filbert Streets. Again, he was not badly injured. Adding to the
family’s problems, George, who had been a drinker for a long time, began to
drink too much. Prohibition was in full effect, but George seemed to be able to
acquire illegal beverages. In the same year, 1927, that he had his two car
accidents, he was cited for being “drunk and running a car”.
Then, in December 1928, the police raided the café/hotel on
Fremont and confiscated three cases of “high-powered beer”. It seems the Moser establishment
had become one of the numerous speak-easies in Lancaster, and that George was manufacturing
illegal beer for sale to his café customers. As a result of the raid, George
was charged with violating the Prohibition liquor law, a crime that often carried
a large fine and substantial jail time. A mid-January trial date was set, and George
was released on $500 bail put up by his close friend and neighbor on Poplar,
Albert Scheuchenzuber. But just two weeks before the case made it to trial,
George suddenly died on January 3, 1929, at the young age of 45. The doctor
attending him attributed his death to chronic alcoholism complicated by
Following George’s death, Rosa tried to make a go of the
café and hotel business, but within a few years, the business had closed. Their
son Alphonse, who had come back to Lancaster after his father’s death, teamed
up with his younger brother George Henry to keep the ice business going, moving
it from 662 Poplar to where Alphonse was living at 615 Fremont. This last of
the Moser family’s two business enterprises lasted until the early 1940s.
In the less than 25 years since George Moser had immigrated
to Lancaster, he had accomplished a lot. He had gotten married, bought two
houses, raised four children, worked in the brewing industry, and started two
businesses of his own. On the other hand, he had failed to repay loans, violated
the liquor laws, and become addicted to alcohol. Although George’s immigrant
experience was certainly not an unqualified success, he had accomplished enough
to allow his four children to succeed. All four of the children of George and
Rosa Moser got married and all four owned their own houses on the Hill by the
George Moser’s story, with different details, has been
repeated many hundreds of times over the years on Cabbage Hill, and the true history
of the Hill cannot be told without those stories. Today, new immigrant families
are creating their own stories of struggling to succeed on the Hill. A much
more diverse group of immigrants are now calling the Hill their first American
home, but their language, housing, and employment struggles are not all that
different from those of German immigrants more than 100 years ago. SoWe is helping
today’s new immigrants overcome their struggles, by trying to create a neighborhood
that is safe, clean, and welcoming, and by providing services that facilitate
their transition into their new community on the Hill.
story of George Moser and his family was prompted by correspondence with Robert
Moser, Ph.D., former Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of San
Diego. Bob, who was raised on Manor Street , contacted me after reading a
history piece on the SoWe website, and expressed an interest in learning more
about his grandfather George Moser’s business enterprises on the Hill. I thank
him for allowing me to present this story of his grandfather’s immigrant
experience. Appropriately enough, Bob’s position with the Diocese of San Diego
involved helping immigrants—in this case refugees—start new lives in
The title of the 1992 film, “A River Runs Through It”, once
applied to Cabbage Hill. Up until the early 1880s, a stream flowed where New
Dorwart Street is today. It was a tributary to a larger stream that drained a
watershed that covered about two-thirds of Lancaster City. The entire stream
system has long since been buried in sewers that run under some of the major
streets of the city.
When Lancaster was founded in 1729, James Hamilton named one
of its north-south streets Water Street, and with good reason. A stream ran
from near the intersection of West Walnut and North Arch in northwest
Lancaster, southward down most of Water to Engleside, where it emptied into the
Conestoga River. The stream was called Roaring Brook in the mid-1700s; Bethel’s
Run from the late 1700s to early 1800s; Hoffman’s Run from the early 1800s to
late 1800s; and finally Gas House Run around the turn of the 20th
century, before it completely vanished.
There were several tributaries to the larger stream that
flowed down Water, including one along West King between Christ Lutheran Church
and Water; one along West Vine between what is now the Convention Center and South
Water; and one from Union through Brandon Park to South Water. But the largest
tributary was the one in Cabbage Hill that used to flow where New Dorwart is
now, which was sometimes referred to as simply “the Run”.
The Run began at several springs and seeps northwest of
Manor between Dorwart and Caroline. From there, it flowed southeast a little
more than a half mile before it reached the larger stream on South Water. The
area of the Run’s watershed was about 250 acres, covering most of Cabbage Hill.
The bedrock beneath the Run was limestone, like under the rest of the city, and
the stream banks were lined with trees and wetland vegetation.
Comparing the Run to same-sized streams in similar settings in
Lancaster County today, it is possible to estimate its flow characteristics. The
Run was likely only a few feet wide and less than a foot deep most of the time,
but probably reached more than twenty feet wide and several feet deep during
heavy rains. Between storms, the flow rate was probably only a couple hundred gallons
per minute, but during storms, the rate would have reached several thousand gallons
per minute, enough to flood adjoining streets and basements. High flows would
have made it difficult to cross the Run by foot, horse, or wagon, without a
In the early days of development on the Hill, the building
lots containing or adjacent to the Run were among the most desirable lots to
own. The Run provided not only water for drinking, cooking, washing, and
conducting business, but also a conduit for carrying away the wastes generated
by residents and businesses. The first house built in the central part of the
Hill—Catharine Yeates’ summer home, known as Green Cottage, now 613 Fremont—was
built fronting the floodplain of the Run, taking advantage of the benefits of
being located near flowing water (see 1850 map). However, when Lancaster’s
public water supply became available in the mid-1800s, the problems of
flooding, insects, rodents, odors, and pollution associated with the Run soon outweighed
In 1878, the city developed a plan for the addition and extension of numerous streets. On the Hill, the plan included many street improvements, including the opening of Fremont and Union and the extension or widening of Filbert, Laurel, Hazel, and Wabank. The plan also included the opening of a new street, soon to be called New Dorwart, which was to be built from Manor to Union, where the Run and its floodplain were located. In 1880, a trench was started down the middle of the street to contain the stream. In 1883, the construction of a six-foot-high brick sewer was started in the trench. By the late 1880s, the sewer had been completed from Manor to Poplar, the new street had been built over it, and new houses had begun to spring up on both sides. By the early 1890s, the sewer had been completed all the way to Union. The Run had disappeared from view, a casualty of development.
But, before it was diverted underground, the Run had a major
impact on the establishment of the streets on the Hill. Manor Street, which had
existed in the early 1700s as the road to Blue Rock on the Susquehanna River,
had long required a bridge over the Run (see 1850 map). High Street, on the
other hand, did not extend beyond the Run in 1850, being truncated by the
difficulty of crossing the Run during high flows. The newly constructed Poplar
Street also was truncated by the Run in 1850.
As the Hill developed rapidly from the late 1860s to the mid
1870s, additional streets were extended to the Run and required bridges. By
1874, in addition to a bridge having been built to carry High over the Run, Lafayette
and St. Joseph had bridges over the Run as well (see 1874 map). But the recently
proposed West Vine and the fledgling Poplar and Fremont did not have bridges.
Instead, they had to be forded when the flow was low enough to safely do so.
Prior to being buried in a sewer, the Run also affected the
geometry of the design for New Dorwart.
Due to the slightly northeast-bending shape of the Run east of Manor, and
the resulting widening of the floodplain northeastward, New Dorwart was offset
from the first to the second block, and again from the second to third block.
The resulting stair-step pattern along the northeast edge of the first two blocks
of the street remains today. Also, the wider floodplain where the Run curved to
the northeast is probably the reason that New Dorwart between Lafayette and
High is about twenty feet wider than elsewhere.
Another way that the Run affected early development was that
the northwest side of Manor between Caroline and Dorwart was the last stretch
of Manor to be developed (see 1874 map). The wetlands associated with the springs
and seeps at the head of the Run made that area perpetually wet and difficult
to build on. Even as late as 1897, almost two decades after the Run had been
diverted underground, this stretch of Manor was still not heavily developed due
to wet ground.
The Run that once ran through Cabbage Hill last saw the
light of day almost 140 years ago. But it clearly had a significant impact on
the development of the Hill, an impact that can still be seen if one takes the
time to look for it on historical maps and in today’s arrangements of streets
and houses. And, although its time on the land surface has long since passed,
the Run still trickles along in the large brick sewer beneath New Dorwart, albeit
a mere subterranean shadow of its former self. Now…”a river runs under it”.