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LancLife

These pre-1930s aerial photos of Lancaster County are from LNP's forgotten vault

Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2020.

Toward the end of last year, a long-forgotten vault was rediscovered in the basement of the LNP building at 8 W. King St. as LNP employees were working to clear out the basement in preparation for the upcoming move to 101 N. Queen St.

We dug through the contents of that long, narrow, musty room and shared our findings with readers in January.

The vault contained an array of newspaper-related items: Trays of movable type; relief street maps of European cities; glass slides of fashionably dressed businessmen; property maps of Lancaster city – even a document bearing the signature of President James Buchanan.

One thing we found was a large box of old aerial photos, tightly rolled up and heavily damaged. After some significant effort from LNP photographer Vinny Tennis, the photos were unrolled, flattened and photographed for publication. They revealed images of downtown Lancaster and the surrounding county featuring numerous local landmarks – and empty spaces where newer landmarks have been built. Shot by the aerial photography company Underwood & Underwood, the photos are estimated to date from the 1920s and 1930s.

Use the slider to identify landmarks on this circa-1930s aerial photo of Maple Grove Park.
Maple Grove Park aerial photo with overlay
Maple Grove Park aerial photo

Maple Grove Park is seen in the foreground of this circa-1930s aerial photo. The park sits at the intersection of Stone Mill Road (at the bottom of the photo) and Columbia Avenue. The large open space to the upper right of the image is the present-day site of Stone Mill Plaza.

Use the slider to identify landmarks on this circa-1930s aerial photo of downtown Lancaster.
Downtown Lancaster aerial photo with overlay
Downtown Lancaster aerial photo

This circa-1930s aerial photo shows downtown Lancaster - but the large building in the center isn't the Griest Building, as one might expect. Rather, it's the old Hotel Brunswick, at the corner of Queen and Chestnut streets. Also visible in this image are City Hall, the County Courthouse and the old Woolworth's building.

Use the slider to identify landmarks on this circa-1930s aerial photo of Lancaster.
Cemeteries aerial photo with overlay
Cemeteries aerial photo

Lancaster Cemetery and St. Mary's Cemetery can be seen in this circa-1930s photo of Lancaster city. Lancaster Cemetery is to the left of the image, where the arched entry gateway can be seen, much as it looks today. St. Mary's Cemetery is to the left. In the foreground, the intersection of New Holland Avenue and Plum Street can be seen.

Use the slider to identify landmarks on this circa-1930s aerial photo of Franklin & Marshall.
Franklin and Marshall aerial photo with overlay
Franklin and Marshall aerial photo

Franklin & Marshall College is featured in this circa-1930s aerial photo. Old Main can be seen, partially obscured by trees, in the middle left of the image, with the former Stahr Hall in the center. Across College Avenue from Stahr Hall are the buildings of Lancaster Theological Seminary. Just below the center of the photo, note the small dome of the Daniel Scholl Observatory, the predecessor of Grundy Observatory on Baker Campus.

Use the slider to identify landmarks on this circa-1930s aerial photo of Reservoir Park.
Reservoir Park aerial photo with overlay
Reservoir Park aerial photo

This circa-1930s aerial photo shows the eastern side of Lancaster city. Visible landmarks include Reservoir Park at the center of the frame, with the walls of Lancaster County Prison clearly visible immediately to the right of the park. Toward the top of the frame, the buildings of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology can be seen.

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