Helb’s Keystone Brewery and Katz’s The York Brewing Company
Today York is home to a variety downtown microbreweries, restaurants, and shops. York has a long tradition of locally owned and operated businesses, especially breweries. Although no longer standing, the buildings of Helb’s Keystone Brewery, founded by Frederick Helb in 1873 and The York Brewing Company founded by Karl Katz in 1894 were once dominant fixtures in York’s skyline. The York Brewing Company did not survive past 1921, following the death of Katz. Longer lasting, The Keystone brewery survived prohibition, but was forced to close by 1950. The brewery was demolished in 1952.
Throughout York’s history agriculture has endured as one of the leading industries. In the city as manufacturing and industry grew during the late 1800s, local entrepreneur A.B. Farquhar built a large factory complex that produced a variety of farm implements and tools, from steam engines and threshers, to hit and miss engines and plows. Since York’s establishment in 1741 agricultural has endured has one of the leading industries for York County. In the City as manufacturing and industry grew during the late 1800s, local entrepreneur A.B. Farquhar built a large factory complex that produced a variety of farm implements and tools, from steam engines and threshers, to hit and miss engines and plows. The name “Farquhar” is still seen all over York, and at its height, Farquhar’s business achieved international fame. The complex, seen here around 1885 was located near Duke, George, Court and Gay streets, taking up nearly a full city block. The complex was demolished in the early 1960s after the York factory ceased operation in the 1950s.
Center Square circa 1925
One of the reasons for the growth of local industry and manufacturing in York was simply due to its geographical location, serving as a hub close to major road and railroad networks, and in close proximity to major cities like Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Baltimore. In the city traffic flowed through Continental Square. Seen here is a busy day from around 1925. Pedestrians navigated vehicles and trolleys, a prominent mode of transportation in York until the 1940s. Note the trolley ticket booth located to the right middle of the photograph. The booth is still located in the similar location on the square today.
York Plan – York Safe and Lock
Perhaps one of the best examples of the success, ingenuity, and perseverance of York’s local manufacturing industry was the York Plan. Prior to and during World War II, the York Plan was a local effort spearheaded by S. Forry Laucks of the York Safe and Lock Co., to convert local industry production to military items. The success was unprecedented and as a result the United States Government studied the York approach and tried to implement in other locations across the country, hence the ‘York Plan.’ Seen here is a 1940s photograph from the York Fair featuring S. Forry Laucks along with a display of York Safe and Lock produced military products.
Flywheel and Crane Hinge
By the mid-1800s, York County and the City contributed substantially to the nation’s industrial revolution. Diverse companies produced a multitude of products and equipment ranging from farm equipment and implements, organs and pianos, pottery, wagons, cast iron ornaments and fixtures, automobiles, ice making machines, water wheels, wall paper, silk, furniture, cigars, snack foods, and much more. The “scale” as shown here with a fly wheel and crane hinge along with a worker for perspective, really was impressive. Although many businesses have since closed or relocated, many more still remain, and new retailers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs continue the legacy of York’s hard work and creativity.