By Robert Field
David Schuyler’s book published in 2002 * on the process of redevelopment of downtown Lancaster some fifty years ago describes the largely unsuccessful effort at the time to protect downtown Lancaster as the core retail center from attempts to develop suburban shopping centers. The result of the regional ‘understanding’ was the ultimate opening of the huge Park City Mall, which devastated the downtown retail area despite the redevelopment efforts at high costs going on simultaneously.
But what stands out is, despite the heated differences of opinions, the efforts of governmental bodies and the Steinman family newspapers to provide a voice to all factions and the democratic manner of coming to decisions on what was to be done.
The contrast between the transparent approach that led to the redevelopment of downtown Lancaster a half century ago and the the clandestine and vicious manner of how the convention center – Marriott Hotel project was brought about four decades or so later could not be greater.
What we have witnessed is the downfall of one of the great counties of the country due to the transformation of its newspaper from protector to predator, a situation that has continued to this current day.
*A City Transformed: Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1940-1980 (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2002),