Penn Square has been a focal point of Lancaster city for centuries - from the first downtown county courthouse (built in the middle of the square in 1738) through the rise of Watt & Shand and the Griest Building and, ultimately, the Lancaster County Convention Center.
It's been the home of food vendors, jazz concerts, political rallies and - of course - the annual tree lighting and arrival of Santa Claus.
Take a look through these 47 photos of the Square from the LNP | LancasterOnline archives and relive the history of this historic spot.
Penn Square, 2019
Penn Square in downtown Lancaster. (Friday Feb. 8, 2019.)
Early drawing of Penn Square courthouse
A drawing of the original Lancaster County Courthouse, located in what is now Penn Square, by William Tefft Schwartz. This courthouse, constructed in 1738, sat in the center of the square, where the Soldiers and Sailors Monument now stands. It was in use until about 1850.
Circus parade, 1899
A circus parade, complete with elephants, winds its way through Penn Square on May 16, 1899.
Penn Square postcard, c. 1900
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Penn Square is shown on this circa-1900 postcard. The monument was built in 1874 to honor Union troops killed in the Civil War.
Photo by Ferdinand Demuth
This photograph of Penn Square in the snow of Penn Square was taken sometime in the 1900s by Ferdinand Demuth, father of famed artist Charles Demuth.
Penn Square traffic, 1913
Lancastrians saw their first traffic jams in the 1910s as cars and trucks competed with trolleys, buses and horse-drawn vehicles on city streets. Congestion in downtown Lancaster became so frequent that the Chamber of Commerce proposed moving the monument from Center Square (now Penn Square). The idea quickly died. This photo shows the northeast corner of the square. Fulton Bank is at center rear, with an advertising sign hanging on its upper floor. The Woolworth department store, with twin towers, stands to the left of the bank.
1925 satirical drawing
This drawing published in a 1925 newspaper suggested what Penn Square might look like in the distant future of 1950.
Penn Square traffic, 1925
A photo of Penn Square taken in December, 1925.
Photographer Marjory Collins took this picture of a Lancaster Newspapers newsboy, Sam Lazarowitz, in Penn Square in November 1942. Lazarowitz sold newspapers seven days a week in Penn Square from 1910 to 1958.
Woman waiting for a bus, 1942
This photo of a Mennonite woman waiting for a bus on a rainy market day was photographed by Marjory Collins in November 1942, with Penn Square's Soldiers and Sailors monument and the Watt & Shand store in the background.
V-J Day, 1945
Photo of Penn Square form the top of Lancaster Newspapers building, 8 W. King St., on V-J Day in 1945.
Trolley track removal, 1947
Workers from Conestoga Traction Co. begin digging unused trolley tracks out of Penn Square in this photo from July, 1947.
Kennedy visit, 1960
Soon-to-be President John F. Kennedy spoke to a crowd estimated at between 5,000 and 15,000 people at Penn Square in September, 1960. In this photo, the Hager department store sign can be seen in the background.
JFK in Penn Square
John F. Kennedy waves to the Penn Square crowd in this photo from his September 1960 campaign visit. Pictured to the right, holding his camera, is Lancaster Newspapers photographer O. Henry Hertzler.
Santa Claus arrives
This undated photo from the Lancaster Newspapers archive shows Santa Claus being taken to the roof of Watt & Shand by a city ladder truck, a Penn Square tradition that ran for many years.
Van Cliburn, 1973
This is Penn Square on the evening of July 30, 1973, showing thousands of Lancastrians listening to Van Cliburn playing a Steinway grand piano beneath a striped tent. The photo was taken from the top of the Griest Building.
Nashville Brass, 1976
A crowd listens to The Nashville Brass in Penn Square on July 26, 1976.
Glenn Miller Orchestra, 1977
A crowd of thousands gathered to hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra perform in Penn Square on June 27, 1977.
Count Basie, 1979
Jazz legend Count Basie performed in Penn Square on July 2, 1979.
New Christy Minstrels, 1980
The New Christy Minstrels performed in Penn Square on July 14, 1980.
Penn Square clock, 1982
The Penn Square clock was unveiled at 4:02 p.m. on a Thursday in November, 1982. At left is then-Mayor Arthur E. Morris and at right, looking up at the clock, is Hamilton Watch Co. President J. Paul Zanowski. The four-faced sidewalk fixture was a gift from the company, which was celebrating its 90th anniversary. The clock was tied to the streetlight system to be illuminated at night.
Tree lighting, 1996
A crowd of about 500 people gathered in Penn Square for the lighting of the city's Christmas tree in December 1996.
Fire engine parade, 1996
Emergency vehicles move through Penn Square during a fire engine parade in December, 1996.
Sleigh ride, 1997
Nurse Ruth McCullough got a sleigh ride through Penn Square on Jan. 3, 1997. Her neighbor Nathaniel Miller and his brother Daniel took her to her snowbound East Lampeter home after she worked marathon shifts caring for their brother and other patients at Lancaster General Hospital.
SEPTA car, 1998
That really is a SEPTA subway car moving through Penn Square - but it wasn't on trolley tracks, it was being carried through town on the back of a flatbed tractor-trailer in the summer of 1998.
One of the figures on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is seen in closeup, with the vacant Watt & Shand department store in the background in this 1999 photo.
Uncle Sam, 1999
Uncle Sam, as played by Jerry Brown, put in an appearance in Penn Square at a 1999 rally for the Lancaster school board Republican candidates. Brown was the husband of candidate Gina Brown.
Independence Day fireworks explode over Penn Square in this July 1, 2000, photo.
Watt & Shand building, 2002
The vacant Watt & Shand building on Penn Square, seen from the 11th floor of the Greist Building in June, 2002.
Bike race, 2004
Racers pass through Penn Square during the second lap of the Wachovia Lancaster Invitational bike race in June, 2004.
City map, 2005
This map of downtown Lancaster was installed in Penn Square in the autumn of 2005.
Sidewalk access was restricted outside the Watt & Shand building during the building's demolition to make way for the Marriott hotel and Lancaster County Convention Center.
In April, 2007, all that remained of the former Watt & Shand building was the M-shaped facade, braced with massive girders and preserved for inclusion in the hotel and convention center building.
Christmas tree, 2007
In this photo from Dec. 4, 2007, the city's Christmas tree stands unlit in Penn Square on a gray day.
In this March, 2008, photo, construction of the Lancaster Marriott hotel and Lancaster County Convention Center was progressing behind the facade of the old Watt & Shand building.
Snow from above, 2009
From the 19th floor of the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, snow coats the square in this 2009 photo.
Night scene, 2012
The Lancaster County Convention Center and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument are shown from Penn Square, May 19, 2012.
Penn Square, 2013
Penn Square seen from the Marriott hotel, July 2013.
Christmas tree, 2013
Christmas lights glow in Penn Square in this December, 2013, photo.
The face of the Navy sailor statue, part of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Penn Square, is seen in this 2014 photo, with the Lancaster Visitors Center in the background.
Tuba Christmas, 2014
Tuba Christmas, as seen in this 2014 photo, is a longstanding holiday tradition in Penn Square.
Salty streets, 2015
The streets in Lancaster are covered with salt in this photo taken in February 2015.
New clock, 2016
A brand-new clock was donated to the newly renovated Penn Square in 2016 by the Charles Snyder Funeral Home. It replaced the clock that had been installed at the opposite side of the square in 1982.
Penn Square, 2017
Penn Square is seen from a snowy West King Street in this 2017 photo.
This aerial photo shows the beginning of construction of the addition to the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square hotel on July 27, 2017.
Griest Building, 2018
The Griest Building was lit with special colors for the Extraordinary Give charity event on Nov. 16, 2018.
Nighttime snow, 2019
A two-second exposure captures Penn Square as traffic moves past on March 3, 2019.