Part IV
New Neighborhoods for Old 

A major renewal program for residential areas in Lancaster was essential, particularly in the southeast quadrant of the city. The age of buildings, the lack of maintenance during seventeen years of depression and war, a remarkably high density of buildings and residents, and the absence of open spaces led the Lancaster Redevelopment Authority to designate a large portion of the southeast as "blighted." The Adam-Musser Towns Urban Renewal Area, established in 1958, consisted of 84 blocks, with approximately 2,341 residential structures and 3,042 dwelling units. 38 percent of the residences lacked running water or private bathrooms and were in dilapidated condition. In addition, there were numerous manufacturing establishments located in predominantly residential areas. Population in 1958 was approximately 10,647 persons, 20 percent of whom were African Americans.

The Adams-Musser Towns Urban Renewal Area was divided into four distinct projects: Higbee, Duke, Church-Musser, and Adams.

Part IV of the exhibit examines the transformation of the southeast according to then-accepted principles of urban redevelopment. Photographs cannot, however, depict the human cost of renewal--the families displaced, the sense of community lost.



Adams-Musser Towns Model

The Redevelopment Authority prepared this model of the Adams-Musser Towns renewal area to illustrate its vision for a revitalized southeastern Lancaster. Created by Hain Wolf Associates of Harrisburg at a cost of $2900, the five by eight foot model projected the improvements that would result from the Duke, Higbee, Adams, Church, and Musser renewal projects. Among the most notable changes evident in the model are the new Higbee School (now the Martin Luther King, Jr. School), Faith United Church of Christ (now San Juan Bautista Spanish Catholic Church), and the Duke Street Mall. Other important elements include garden apartments opposite Rockland Street, an apartment complex for the elderly, and Susquehanna Court, the city's first public housing project. Photographs by Ed Sachs, Feb. 9, 1965. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.

Key to the Adams-Musser Towns Model


The Lancaster Redevelopment Authority published a pamphlet identifying places on the Adams-Musser Towns scale model. A New Era photograph of the model keyed it to descriptions of the proposed new elements of the city plan: 1. Duke Street Mall; 2. Apartments for the elderly at the corner of Church and South Duke streets; 3. New building for Faith United Church of Christ; 4. New Higbee School; 5. Garden apartments; 6. Susquehanna Court (Lancaster's first public housing complex); 7. Duke Plaza; 8. New Apartments. Photograph published in the Lancaster New Era, Feb. 9, 1965. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.


The Higbee Project
The Duke Street Project
The Church-Musser Project
The Adams Project
The Crosstown Project


Part I: The Discovery of Urban Blight
Part II: Imagining a Revitalized City
Part III: A New Commercial Center

Urban Renewal in Retrospect