Then & Now: Wagner’s 1830 Borough of York

In 1830, prolific cartographer, engraver, and artist William Wagner created a series of 38 watercolors that accurately showed how the Borough of York looked. In the pre-photography era, this remarkable collection of architectural views makes York, PA, one of the most highly depicted communities of the early nineteenth-century United States. I have attempted to match Wagner’s 1830 paintings with its modern Google Street Views counterpart. Today, those images can be found in the book, Views in the Borough of York & Vicinity.

I have attempted to match several of Wagner’s 1830 paintings with their modern Google Street Views counterparts. Those Then & Now comparisons can be found below.

Next Page: Main Street

Northeast corner of Beaver and Main Streets

The National House is believed to be the site Charles Dickens describes in his American Notes in 1842. Known over the years as the White Hall Hotel, the National Hotel, and Jack’s Department Store – the National House is one of York’s most recognizable landmarks. The building was constructed in 1828 as the White Hall Hotel, and played host to guests such as former President Martin Van Buren (1839) and famed British author Charles Dickens (1842).

Sometime before the Civil War, the hotel was renamed The National House. In 1921, the lower level of the building became Jack’s – a women’s department store that is still sorely missed by many longtime Yorkers. Today, you can get a drink there when you visit the Holy Hound Taproom.

On the left is the Wayne Headquarters. Click here to see where this is in York. Click here to read about the ghost of General ‘Mad Anthony’ Wayne here.

Beaver Street, corner of Main

Looking south out Beaver Street toward King Street over the marshy or swampy grounds between Market Street and the Public Common. The two sycamore trees survived into the early 1900s. The buildings on the right are the Wayne Headquarters and the General Clark House; on the left is the White Hall Hotel. Click here to see where it is.

North Beaver Street, south of Philadelphia, west side

This view shows the half block from Clark Avenue to Philadelphia Street. The large house was the home of John Spangler, considered the wealthiest resident of York and a collector of works of art. This was a favored residential section of York throughout the 1800s. Click here to see where it is.

North Beaver Street, corner of Clark, east side

Beginning at Clark Avenue, on the east side of North Beaver Street. Note the door stoop with side benches and the cellar door entrances from the sidewalk, as well as the barrel to collect rainwater from the downspout. Click here to see where this is.

North Beaver Street, north of Main, east side

The first half square on the east side of North Beaver Street from Clark Avenue toward the White Hall Hotel also shows the hotel stables. The spire is on the German Reformed Church on Main (Market) Street, pastored by William Wagner’s father, the Reverend Daniel Wagner. Click here to learn where it is.

North Beaver Street to the Codorus, east side

The Codorus Creek is in the distance. The log house is on the corner of Philadelphia and North Beaver Streets. The large building in the distance is the York County Academy, founded in 1787 by St. John Episcopal Church. It was the first classical school west of the Susquehanna River. Click here to see where this is.

Next Page: Main Street

Here’s your chance to own some of Wagner’s work

I am currently selling 18″ x 24″ matte prints of his beautiful 1821 map of Lancaster County for the low price of $35 with free shipping and handling. It highlights the various townships, waterways, rivers, turnpikes, roads, mill sites with owner names, furnaces, and churches throughout Lancaster County.

Next Page: Main Street

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