Last month, I introduced you to Milton Hershey, the man who brought
chocolate to the masses in the United States
(https://www.hhhistory.com/2021/12/milton-hershey-chocolate-king.html). Today we’re going to talk about his chocolate town.
Additions to the town included a volunteer fire department, literary and social clubs, local sports teams, a YMCA, and a YWCA. Initially planned as picnic grounds, Hershey Park quickly became much more. By 1910 it had grown to include a children’s playground, a band shell, swimming pool, zoo, bowling alley, and amusement rides. Established for community use, the park became a tourist attraction, as did the chocolate factory and town itself.
March 1903 came in like a lion as construction began for the new
factory in the rural area of Derry Township, Pennsylvania. Most
industrialists of the time thought Hershey out of his mind to build in such an out-of-the-way place. But he had a dream, and his vision required land. Lots of land, because he planned to build a company town like no one had ever seen.
Company towns were not new. In fact, by this time there were more than 2,000 company towns across the U.S., such as Lowell, Massachusetts, Pullman, Illinois, and Corning, New York. But where many of the towns were harsh places of abuse, Hershey’s town would be a utopia.
An astute businessman, he’d done his homework. Not only had he read articles and reports about
company towns, but Hershey traveled extensively in the U.S. and Europe visiting a significant number of the places he’d studied. In England, he saw the Cadbury Company’s Bournville that offered workers a pleasant and healthful living space at an affordable rate, and elements of the English town are evident in the early development of Hershey.
While the factory was being built, the footprint for the rest of the town was developed. Hershey’s desire was to create a community that was functional and attractive, so he hired architect E. Emlen Urban who included a shopping district, recreational facilities, and residences nestled amid the industrial space. To incent employees to have a personal stake in the community, Hershey offered homes for sale in addition to those available for rent. He also encouraged inhabitants to take an active role in establishing community services.
The factory covered six acres. Fire was always a concern, therefore the building was intentionally only one story high so employees wouldn’t be subjected to the dangers posed by stairs. The facility layout was designed and built for ultimate efficiency, with raw materials such as cocoa beans, milk, and sugar delivered to one end, processed, then emerging at the other end as finished products. Further efficiency was created when Hershey constructed a trolley system to link dairy farms and milk stations to the factory. Milk was delivered using specially designed trolley cars.
|Photo: public domain|
Have you ever visited Hershey Town or Hershey Park?
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