front page 1959

On June 18, 2019, LNP celebrated its 225th anniversary. The earliest newspaper to which today’s LNP traces its roots was the Lancaster Journal, first published on June 18, 1794, by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks from a news office located in a tavern building at the King Street site of the current LNP building.

To celebrate 225 years of Lancaster newspapers, we present this series of 52 front pages from the history of the newspapers which would eventually become LNP. 

48 becomes 50

Though it’s not represented on this particular front page from May 21, 1959, a significant change was happening in the United States at this time.

Prior to 1959, it had been nearly a half-century since the most recent state, Arizona, formally joined the United States of America. Within the span of a year, the “Really great 48” officially became the “Nifty 50” states with the admission of Alaska and Hawaii on Jan. 3 and Aug. 21, respectively.

In Alaska’s case, statehood was a long time coming. The territory was sold from Russia to the United States on Oct. 18, 1867, for $7.2 million – or roughly two cents an acre. Over the next century, Alaska would make the transition from a department to a district and finally to a territory owned by the U.S.

During World War II, Alaska gained new prominence as a key military base, leading to an influx of Americans. In the decade after the war ended, bills finally began to circulate through Congress to make Alaska the 49th state of the Union. Detractors on both sides of the aisle had their doubts about Alaska’s chances at statehood because of the distant and sparse population, but nevertheless, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act on July 7, 1958.

Hawaii’s path to statehood ended up being a little more complicated. As with Alaska, Hawaii existed as a territory of the United States for many years, in this case, since 1898.

As Hawaii entered the 20th century, the approval rate for statehood grew to 93% of island residents.

However, as Hawaii was still only a territory, it was allowed only one nonvoting member in the House of Representatives. Because of this, American landowners worked to keep labor cheap and tariffs low.

Numerous bills would reach Congressional desks in the 50 years following Hawaii attaining territory status, but it would take allowing the Democrat-majority Alaska into the Union to convince the rest of Congress to bring the Republican-leaning Aloha State into the fold.

By the end of 1959, the continental United States would have two new, officially recognized additions.

The 717

On the bottom right-hand side of this front page, a short article describes the growing pains of Lancaster’s Direct Distance Dialing system, or DDD. When the concept of telephone area codes was established in 1947, “717” was one of the original area codes given to South Central Pennsylvania.

However, more than a decade later, phone systems still relied on being connected with an operator who would then connect you to the person you were trying to reach.

As of May 1959, phone users in 1,400 cities could make direct calls to other phones, but it would be nearly a full decade before all Lancaster County residents could make outgoing calls without an operator’s assistance.


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