Hanover, Pennsylvania, (population 14,399) is the “snack food capital” of America, home of nearly one dozen brands, including Utz Potato Chips and Snyder’s of Hanover. Manufacturing, agriculture, processing, and retail are all strong in this region, sustaining the area’s rapid growth.
Named for Hannover in Germany, this community began in the early 1700s when German settlers fleeing religious persecution were attracted to a small valley in the Pigeon Hills that reminded them of home. The fertile farming area was further developed in 1763, when an innkeeper drew up a formal town plan for the group of scattered settlers. It was centered at the junction of trade roads to York, 20 miles north, and Baltimore, Maryland, the bustling port city a day’s ride to the south.
Hanover was incorporated as a borough in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1815. By that time, it was home to thriving industries, boasted several inns and taverns, and maintained a strong agricultural base. Immigrants from Scotland, England, and Ireland joined the original German settlers. Today an annual Dutch Festival celebrates the town’s strong Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and draws thousands of people Downtown.
The Hanover historic district comprises a little less than half of the borough’s total area and includes the 1783 Neas House and many other architectural gems. Among the interesting adaptive re-use preservation projects in Hanover is The Residences at Hanover Shoe, a public-private partnership that transformed a historic icon from an eyesore to a thriving mixed-use anchor for its neighborhood. The Eichelberger High School has been renovated into a performing arts center and offices, while maintaining its historic charm. The 1849 Hanover Junction train station was a stop on Lincoln’s trek to Gettysburg and a place where locals bid farewell to the president as his funeral train passed by. Hanover also boasts a historic market and a firehouse museum.
Along with six other boroughs, Hanover participates in The Pennsylvania Civil War Trails: Prelude to Gettysburg to promote understanding of regional Civil War history. Visitors are able to experience lesser known battlefields and sites and appreciate the key roles other communities in Pennsylvania played leading up to the pivotal battle at Gettysburg. Through a series of special events, museum exhibits, hikes, and guided tours, the communities are exploring four themes: troop movements and battlefields; daily life in war torn communities; issues that impacted women, family life, and children; and the contributions of African Americans to the defense of the commonwealth.
The borough has installed 18 wayside exhibits depicting points of interest and events during the Battle of Hanover, the first Civil War battle on Pennsylvania soil. This project was done in cooperation with the Hanover Area Historical Society, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Lancaster-York Heritage Region of Pennsylvania. The Heritage Region’s Web site features more than 200 heritage sites, tours, and events, many in the Hanover area, as well as tools for itinerary planning.
Designated a Preserve America Community in October 2007.