The Demolition of
North Queen Street 

In July 1965 the Lancaster Redevelopment Authority authorized the demolition of the 100 block of North Queen Street. Following the withdrawal of the first developer, Second North Queen, Inc., the city did not have a developer under contract. According to Richard Barr, then chair of the Chamber of Commerce committee on city planning, the decision to demolish was made at the behest of Mayor George Coe, who believed that a blank slate would prove more attractive to developers than the existing streetscape.

The chaste classical facade of the Northern Savings & Trust Company (later the Lancaster National Bank) surely was one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Erected c. 1920, it was demolished in September 1965. Photographs (top) by Ed Sachs, July 1965 and (bottom) Sept. 6, 1965. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.

Demolition of the West Block--II

The Redevelopment Authority began demolishing the west side of North Queen Street in the summer of 1965. The Earle Hotel (originally the Wheatland) had been erected c. 1890. It was razed in September 1965. Photograph by Ed Sachs, Sept. 29, 1965. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.


North Queen Clearance--Phase I


Aerial showing north half of west block cleared. The partially-demolished building at the southwest corner of North Queen and Chestnut streets housed Boyd's Theater and the Imperial Bar. Photograph Nov. 6, 1965. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.

The Fate of the Y.M.C.A.

C. Emlen Urban's Y.M.C.A. had stood at the northwest corner of North Queen and West Orange streets since the turn of the twentieth century. The top photograph depicts the building during the late 1920s, the middle image demolition in 1965 (note the structural steel construction), and the bottom the parking garage that occupies much of the site, which was erected 1970-1971. Note the roof and steeple of St. John's Lutheran Church, in the 200 block of West Orange Street, to the left in each of the photographs. Courtesy, Darmstaetter Collection, Lancaster County Historical Society (top), Bureau of Planning, City of Lancaster (middle), Buchart-Horn, Inc./BASCO Associates, Ltd., Lancaster and York, Pa. (bottom).

The Brunswick and the Price of Progress

A handful of spectators gathered the night of May 2, 1967 as workers prepared to commence razing the old Brunswick Hotel, which had been designed by C. Emlen Urban. Demolition began before dawn. A sign, "TEARING DOWN--TO MAKE WAY FOR PROGRESS," attempted to reassure passersby that demolition was a necessary step toward revitalizing the city. Photographs (top) from the Intelligencer Journal, May 2, 1967 and (bottom) by Ed Sachs, May 3, 1967. Courtesy, Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.


North Queen Street, 1965
Buchart Plans for North Queen Street, 1962
Victor Gruen's Plans for a New Commercial Center
Rebuilding North Queen Street 
Failure of Commercial Renewal

Part IV: New Neighborhoods for Old