This story contains links that will take you to our archives site on This content is free for LancasterOnline subscribers who are logged in. Click here for more information about how to subscribe.

In 1929, the concept of a skyscraper in Lancaster was an idea people were still just getting used to. The city's first skyscraper, the Griest Building, was completed just four years earlier.

One concern at the time in Lancaster County: How likely were buildings to be struck by lightning? Were rural areas, such as where the Hans Herr House stood, more at risk than urban areas, such as where the Griest Building stood?

This article from the Aug. 18, 1929, Sunday News endeavors to make the science of thunderstorms clear to the layman, while tying it to a local issue in the news at the time -- the proposal to relocate the Hans Herr House to the city of Lancaster after a lightning strike started a fire that destroyed multiple outbuildings at the Herr site in Willow Street.

Here are 12 of the tallest buildings in Lancaster County
12-story refrigeration tower in West Hempfield would be third-tallest building in Lancaster County

The article describes tests conducted that summer in the "New England laboratory of a great electric company," in which the behavior of lightning in rural versus urban areas was studied closely.

Evidence showed that tall buildings with steel construction elements -- like the Griest Building -- provided a "cone of protection" for smaller buildings nearby, with the apex of the cone at the building's topmost point, and the radius two to four times the height of the building.

This means that the Griest Building provides a protective cone over an area of at least a block in all directions.

In 1969, Lancaster County had 476 unsafe bridges (Plus: A look back at Long's Park) [Lancaster That Was]
Historic front page news: Lancaster County reacted to shooting of President Reagan in 1981

The unidentified author of this 1929 article seems to favor the relocation of the Hans Herr House to a museum site in the city, even though the proposed site was nowhere near the Griest Building.

Perhaps, while watching the wheels of progress turn ever more rapidly, he thought the Griest Building would be the first of many skyscrapers in Lancaster.