This Lancaster bookworm has been reading the newspaper daily for 40 years

In 1981 one of Lancaster’s most icon citizens took up residence at 20 West King Street, and for nearly 40 years, he’s been happy to sit and read the paper.

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This is, of course, the famous one-of-kind Newspaper Reader statue who greets visitors from his bench at the entrance to Steinman Park. The public art installation was created by sculpturer J. Seward Johnson Jr. This New Jersey-born artist is best known for his painted life-sized bronze statues, depicting people engaged in every day day-to-day activities. Johnson works with a large staff of technicians to create these fabrications.

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Artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. sitting in front of his famous Unconditional Surrender sculpture in Times Square August 2015.

As one of Lancaster’s most famous pieces of art, most people know the Reader is enjoying an edition from one of the Steinman family’s many publications. But do you know which one? You may have even noticed two more newspapers are scattered beside him. One is a copy of the New Era and the other from the Intelligencer Journal. But which issues are waiting for his inspection? Test your knowledge in this Newspaper Reader Statue Pop Quiz.

If you don’t want to know the answers yet, don’t scroll any further.

Pop Quiz Answers

The two editions sitting on the bench are July 21, 1969, and March 29, 1979. Both were major events, not just locally but nationally. Interestingly, the two editions bookmark America’s greatest and worse technological moments—the Apollo moon land (July 21, 1969) and the Three Mile Island nuclear accident (March 29, 1979).

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The September 16, 1923 edition being enjoyed by the Reader is more obscure but an important moment in Lancaster newspaper history. If you were to google what day of the week that was, it becomes easier to guess.

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It was a Sunday, and it was on that day in 1923 that the Steinman brothers challenged the no-work-on-Sunday blue laws by publishing the Sunday News for the first time.

What Lancaster newspaper editions would you add to the Reader’s bench?

Brief History of Newspaper in Lancaster

Lancaster’s first newspaper was published in 1752 by Henry Miller and S. Holland. They named the small, four-page paper the Lancaster Gazette. Reflecting the community demographics of the time, the Gazette published articles in both English and German.

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Notice how the publication had the same article in German and English in side-by-side columns.

Later in 1794, William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks started producing the Federalist leaning Lancaster Journal. It was a once-a-week four-page paper. It is the oldest ancestor of today’s LNP and a forerunner of the daily Intelligencer Journal.

The Journal was followed up five years later in 1799 by William and Robert Dickson’s Lancaster Intelligencer & Weekly Advertiser. The paper supported Jeffersonian Republicanism and was more political than the Journal. It printed political essays and news on the front page rather than advertising.

By the early 1800s, editors from the two papers made violent and wild accusations. So much so that Intelligencer editor William Dickson had to write his editorials in jail for three months as the result of allegedly libeling political opponents in 1806.  In 1821, he changed the paper’s name to the Lancaster Intelligencer.

In 1820 John Reynolds (father of the Civil War general) bought the Lancaster Journal from Hamilton and turned it into a Jacksonian editorial style paper. Reynolds then passed the paper to Hugh Maxwell in 1834.

In 1839 John W. Forney took over the Lancaster Intelligencer. That same year on September 24, Forney merged the Lancaster Intelligencer with the Lancaster Journal after purchasing it from Hugh Maxwell. The new publication was called the Lancaster Intelligencer & Journal.

By the end of the Civil War, circulation had dropped significantly, mostly because of the anti-Republican editorial tone. In 1866 Andrew Jackson Steinman reluctantly took control of the newspaper with co-owner Henry Smith. At this time, the paper was being published daily with a circulation of just 500. Joined by his nephew, Charles Steinman Foltz, the two men were successful in improving the business.

In 1906 newspaper operations were moved to 8-10 West King Street, where it is still located today. The current building was constructed in 1927.

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On July 1, 1910, Steinman and Foltz started the Lancaster Morning Journal to complement the afternoon Intelligencer & Journal. In 1915 they purchased the competing Morning News and merged it with the Morning Journal to create the News Journal. They then restructured their business by making the Intelligencer & Journal the morning publication and the News Journal the afternoon paper.

As mentioned earlier, the Steinman brothers challenged the no-work-on-Sunday blue laws by publishing the Sunday News on September 16, 1923. The Newspaper Reader statue in Steinman park is shown holding and reading the first issue of this paper.

The Lancaster New Era, another newspaper in Lancaster, was founded in 1877. Its goal was to usher in a “new era” of Republican politics. In 1923 Paul Block, Sr. bought the New Era with the plan to compete against the Steinmans’ morning Intelligencer & Journal and afternoon NewsJournal newspapers.

The strategy failed, and Block was forced to sell to the Steinmans in 1928, On April 16 of that year, the Steinman brothers merged their two existing newspapers into a morning publication under the name Intelligencer Journal with the New Era becoming the afternoon paper. From 1928 until 2009, Lancaster had three printed newspapers—Intelligencer Journal, New Era, and Sunday News

On June 26, 2009, the New Era was published for the last time as an afternoon paper. Citing increasing costs and decreasing readership, the Intelligencer Journal and New Era were merged into a combined morning publication. The Sunday News continues unchanged.

Lancaster Newspapers, Inc. owns and publishes the Intelligencer Journal/ Lancaster New Era and the Sunday News. They also publish three weekly minor newspapers, the Lititz Record, Ephrata Review, and Lancaster Farming. LNP is owned by Steinman Enterprises, a corporation closely held by descendants of Andrew Jackson Steinman.

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