Lancaster Tobacco Warehouses, c. 1870–1920

Explore Lancaster City’s Tobacco Warehouses

In the Spring 2020 issue of The Journal of Lancaster County’s Historical Society (Volume 120, Number 4) focused on the history of tobacco in Lancaster County. One article, “Lancaster City’s Forgotten Tobacco Warehouse Industry” by John F. Bennawit, Jr., included a map showing all of the warehouses within the city limits. The following caption was printed alongside the map:

Historical locations of 166 existing and non-existing tobacco warehouses in Lancaster city have been identified and plotted on this map through Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, historical newspapers and city directories. This includes buildings that were also converted for use as tobacco warehouses.

The 1869/1870 Lancaster City Directory listed only six “leaf tobacco dealers” packing tobacco within city warehouses. However, as this map depicts, tobacco companies soon converted buildings into warehouses and built new warehouses across Lancaster city in the half century from 1870–1920 to accommodate the enormous growth of the tobacco industry. The map reveals that most tobacco warehouses were in the northern portion of the city directly linked to the railroad lines.

For online use and convenience, LancasterHistory Archives & Library Assistant Martha Abel created an interactive map with a photograph, history, present use, and any additional links (such as to Wikipedia pages or National Register of Historic Places nominations) to further flesh out the history of each of these warehouses. (Links included within map locations are provided for information purposes only.) To enlarge the map, please click the frame icon in the top, right corner of the map window.

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