Imagining a Revitalized City
In 1959 the City Planning Commission employed Clifton E. Rodgers and Associates as consultants to project a vibrant future for downtown. Rodgers focused on the central business district, which was bounded by Walnut, Lime, Vine, and Prince streets. Redevelopment of this area was essential: although the downtown commercial core occupied only 3% of the land in Lancaster, it generated 21% of the city's property tax revenues. "The future of Lancaster," Redevelopment Authority Director Burrell B. Cohen stated in 1960, "is entirely dependent upon its ability to remove that which is old and obsolete, that which is undesirable and substandard, whether they be homes, business establishments or industrial facilities, and, by so doing, make land available within the city for new well-built and attractive facilities that will enable the city to effectively compete with its suburban neighbors."
The Rodgers plan called for turning Queen Street into a pedestrian shopping mall. It would have required demolition of such notable buildings as Samuel Sloan's County Court House, the new City Hall, and C. Emlen Urban's Southern Market.
Part II of the exhibit presents the vision of Downtown Lancaster 1980 as well as the 1965 Lancaster Redevelopment Authority annual report, a primer which explained to the general public how urban renewal worked.