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A great deal of ink has been spilled telling the stories of the urban renewal process in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. Of course, large-scale demolition and redevelopment projects were not without precedent, as proven by the experience of Harrisburg’s 8th Ward in the second decade of the twentieth century. The area was definitely a bit of hardscrabble by the early 1910s, and it seemed to offend the more genteel sentiments of some of Harrisburg’s important civic leaders and their kind. Much of the area was completely razed over the next few years, and by the early 1920s, the old neighborhood was largely gone. This story is told most effectively in this website, which was a creation of Professor Michael Barton at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg along with some of his students, who worked together to locate primary research materials (such as photographs) that could be used to create a documentary history of the area. Visitors to the site can take a virtual walking tour of the old 8th Ward, peruse a resident directory from the period, and also view historic maps and a view of the area. For those who are interested in learning about how the site was created, there is also a document available here that discusses how it all came to fruition.
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