1919-2019: York City residents re-create iconic photo a hundred years later

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

At 1 p.m on Sept 1, 1919, York City men and women in their best pinstripe suits and hobble skirts posed for a photo at Continental Square in the heart of York City.

On Sunday, exactly 100 years later, the city's current residents took to those very streets to re-create a historical photo capturing their own place in York's history.

"York is a historic city, and so every day we spend here is our moment in history," said Phil Doucette, who helped organize the retro photo shoot. "And I think every hundred years, it's important just to stop and say, 'Here we are, this is us now, today.'"

In 1919, York City residents gathered for the annual convention and parade of the York County Firemen's Association.

Residents began crowding Continental Square by 12:30 p.m. before getting further instructions from Philip Given, chief of staff for Mayor Michael Helfrich, on where to stand.

Props including a trolley car, a 1950s firetruck and ponies were brought to the scene to create a vintage and nostalgic atmosphere.

In 1919, a York County Firefighters Parade was rolling through the city, drawing a large crowd. Similar to Sunday's re-created event, residents in 1919 were organized for a photo, Given said. 

"It's pretty iconic," he said of the resulting image. "It's one of the few photos from that period that is really that dynamic. Most of these buildings were in that photo, so that's really exciting to us."

A copy of the 100-year-old photograph is displayed on the front of a firetruck in Continental Square, on Sept. 1, 2019.

Doucette said he came up with the idea for a 100-year update after seeing a print of the photograph on the wall of a friend's house.

After the photo was digitized and presented to the mayor's office, plans were officially made to have a new photo taken at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.

"I was really amazed at how beautiful the picture was and how it captured a moment in time in York," Doucette said. "To capture our place in history is really what it's for."

To re-create the image, three different photographs were taken on Sunday with a drone, robotic camera and vintage film camera.

A team of photographers used a robotic camera to take over 300 photos stitched together into one single image to achieve the recreation.

The camera took about 300 separate pictures that will be stitched together into a single panoramic image.

Given said the new photos will be available on the city's website and social media accounts in two weeks.

Ann Kemper, of Fireside, brought along her own history to share at the photo recreation event at Continental Square. Kemper posed with photos of her parents and family during the recreation, on Sept. 1, 2019.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.