Arts & Life

A Day in Historic Downtown York - October 2010

Written by Katie Cibort, Sales & Traffic Coordinator | Sep 23, 2010 6:20 PM

Meda Hartman has been selling fruit since she was a young girl. Her family's Apple Hill Farm in York County has been worked and owned by four generations of Hartmans. Meda, now one of the eldest in her family, owns and operates Hartman's Fruit and Bake Shop stand in the Central Market House in Historic Downtown York. With three other generations working by her side, she sells fresh fruit and baked goods next to stands offering fresh meat and other produce, from the exotic to the everyday.

Folks like Meda, along with fun shops and guaranteed good food, are what make a day in Historic Downtown York worth the trip.

Central Market House

Built in 1888, the Central Market House on Philadelphia Street is definitely the first stop to make on a trip to York. Like much of York city, the Central Market House has architecture unlike any other in Central PA. Before you even see the bright white and green sign above its doors, you know it's Central Market. The arched windows and impressive masonry give this York landmark an air of importance. The 35,000-square-foot building houses more than 50 stands, ranging from produce to gifts.

It's a happy and welcoming place, with a large, bustling seating area greeting visitors who enter from Philadelphia Street. In this area, numerous lunch counters and stands sell a variety of lunch fare. Stop by the Roburrito's burrito truck — literally a truck inside the market — for one of Roburrito's "famous burritos." Mezzogiorno brings a hint of Italy to breakfast or lunch, from corned beef casserole to lasagna to fresh desserts. With table and counter seating as well as murals and mosaics, this is a unique way to dine. A good plan for market patrons who can't decide on one meal is to sample from several stands and create a bountiful feast at a table in the large seating area.

Top off lunch with a tasty (and healthy) fruit slushy from Brunner's Exotic Fruits. Made fresh the minute you order, Brunner's slushies are simple and delicious. Patrons can also buy bananas, kiwis, champagne grapes and other exotic fruits at Brunner's stand.

The intermingling of retail stands with lunch counters, produce and fresh meats makes Central Market House distinctive. Hartman's fruit stand is directly next to Cherie Anne Designs, selling hand-spun and dyed fiber as well as teas and handmade jewelry. Knitters and crocheters are encouraged to bring their work or talk weaving with the ladies running the stand. Also in the market is a stand for Alley Cats Vintage Clothing and Antique Shop, with pillbox hats, pearl necklaces and much more. The main Alley Cats store is close to the market on Clark Avenue.

If you're looking for more, all you need to do is step out of the Central Market House, where the neighborhood has much to offer by way of food, shopping and arts.

Shopping and Galleries

Exiting the market from the Alley Cats stand, visitors will find themselves in an area known as the Beaver Street Corridor. A shaded, busy thoroughfare, Beaver Street has shops and galleries to suit a variety of shoppers.

Sweet Melissa's Dream boasts fine craftsmanship from local artists, as well as from "Sweet" Melissa Grove herself. A funkily dressed mannequin stands outside the shop, catching the eye and giving a taste of what is inside: handmade crafts — from organic screen printed T-shirts to jewelry made of repurposed whiskey bottles. Next door is SHIMMER ... Pretty Little Things, another delightful art shop. Owner Michele Strine creates mosaic frames to sell in her store, but also takes custom orders. Find her there on a Saturday making frames in the back room of her perfectly pink shop, and be sure to ask her about the creative frames she's done for Hawaiian weddings and the like.

Also on Beaver Street is Kimman's Co., offering gift ideas for any host or hostess — or even for yourself. Inside, shoppers will find quality glassware and serving platters, along with other distinctive household accessories. There are also soaps and lotions, glass beads, fine jewelry, Lindsay Phillips SwitchFlops and Vera Bradley handbags.

Sunrise Soap Company specializes in quality organic soaps, lip balms and shampoo. Sunrise Soaps are made in-house by Christina Clarke; the lime-orange lip balm comes highly recommended, as does the sandalwood ginger soap bar. Sniffing is encouraged, after which you may appreciate the company's motto, "Not all soaps are created equal."

Not far away on Beaver Street is YorkArts Gallery, a large venue where you can take in some quality work by local York and international craftsmen and -women. Keep your eyes open for JustBRENDAart Studio Gallery, above Reiss Jewelers. York County native Brenda Wintermyer's bright and vibrant oil paintings line the stairwell and walls of the homey studio space. On Philadelphia Street you'll find City Art Gallery, whose walls hold many different styles of art from all around the region and the country.

Dining

Are you hungry yet? You should be. One of the cornerstones of York dining is The White Rose Bar & Grill, a bustling restaurant with a relaxed but posh atmosphere, from its many full bars to outdoor seating. Pay close attention to the artwork — if the paintings of York city landmarks seem familiar, it's because they're by Brenda Wintermyer, who was commissioned to paint the White Rose Collection on display in the martini bar. The North Beaver Street locale's "famous crab pretzel" lives up to the hype, as does the pork barbecue sandwich. Also on Beaver Street is Esaan Thai Restaurant, well-known for its Thai cuisine and desserts.

If you don't mind a short walk and are looking for a fine-dining experience, head over to North George Street to The Left Bank. The authentic French cuisine makes it an impressive place for a date, featuring a full bar and fresh daily specials.

History and Entertainment

Visitors to York should also take in some of the many historic sites the city has to offer. Most are open on Saturday afternoons, and the three favorites — The Agricultural & Industrial Museum, the Bonham House and the Colonial Complex — not only show the history of York, but also the history of our nation, as York is considered by some historians to be the first capital of the United States.

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While you're in historic downtown, what better way to round out your day in York than with some good music? The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center hosts diverse acts as well as film screenings. The CapLive events welcome more eclectic artists, but classical-music lovers can take in performances by the York Symphony Orchestra.

A day in Historic Downtown York, not only taking in the sites but also talking to those who call York home, is worth the short drive to get there.

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