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38 West King Street
Before leaving Max’s Eatery at 38 West King Street, look up. The second oldest clock in Lancaster is hidden in plain sight between the second and third stories of the building. It was installed in 1869 by Henry Zahm Rhoads and was a showpiece for his H.Z. Rhoads & Brothers store, which dealt in diamonds, watches, jewelry, bronze, musical boxes, and silverware.
In case you were wondering, the oldest public clock in the city belongs to the courthouse with a date of 1852. You will pass by it later.
The building has hosted various businesses over the years. The most famous resident might have been the John H. Troup Music House. It was run by the family of “Route 66” songwriter and “Emergency” actor Bobby Troup. Read more about 38 West King Street here.
From Max’s Eatery, head east on West King Street towards Penn Square.
As you walk up West King Street, remember that this is not just another street in another town. Prominent men in American history have walked where you are now such as George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence; General Edward Hand, Washington’s adjutant general, who lived in the first block of West King Street before building Rock Ford; Robert Fulton, who made the steamboat practical; James Buchanan, 15th president of the United States; and Thaddeus Stevens, who helped bring free schools to Pennsylvania and drove for the abolition of slavery. George Washington, John Hancock, and the Marquis de Lafayette all visited and walked West King Street.
As you approach Penn Square, try to imagine what Lancaster was like 300 years ago. It’s easy to forget that the Red Rose city and its 60,000 people weren’t always the eighth largest in Pennsylvania. When the community was established as the county seat in 1729—making it the oldest inland city in the country—the population was only 15.
Today, King Street is one way going east, but, in honor of its history, traffic should really be headed in the other direction.
By the mid-1700s, King Street was the gateway to the West serving as the roadway to Wright’s Ferry, later renamed Columbia in a bid to become the nation’s capital, and to the lands across the Susquehanna.
Instead of automobiles, Conestoga wagons once rumbled down this street carrying settlers and trade goods to the opening frontiers. More was sent to help General Edward Braddock in his ill-fated 1755 expedition in the French and Indian War after Benjamin Franklin asked the Pennsylvania Germans here for aid.
If it’s a quiet day and you listen hard, you may be able to hear the echoes of the Conestoga waggoners’ bells.
To unlock the next page, turn around and find the public artwork in the fountain behind you. How many legs hold it up out of the water? Enter the number as a word