The photo galleries below offer a series of views of the buildings, people, places, and culture of Harrisburg’s Old Eighth Ward. Most of the images in these galleries derive from high-resolution photographs scanned by the Pennsylvania State Archives and reused here with their permission. Unless otherwise noted, the images come from the Records of the Land Office, Land Office Map Collection series (RG 17.522), a collection known as “Photographs of Capitol Park Extension Properties.”

The images in the galleries were captured by photographer John D. Lemer to facilitate the work of the Capitol Park Extension Commission. Most probably date to the fall of 1911, immediately before demolition, but some clearly reflect a time after buildings, and even entire blocks, had begun to come down (1912-1917).

Lemer sought to record buildings and streets for the purposes of the state, but his photographs also captured small businesses, advertisements, churches, synagogues, schools, and many people–kids playing in the streets, women talking in front of homes, street cleaners at work, and residents peering out of windows.

Thanks to the staff of the Pennsylvania State Archives, who scanned the photographs of Record Group 17.522 in high resolution, we can focus our view on the individuals who found home and a living in the Old Eighth Ward, and their organizations of faith, business, and social life.

Click the galleries below to view glimpses of life in the Old Eighth. The first gallery below features lower-resolution images of the State Archives Record Group 17.522. The other galleries zoom in on people, place, and signs.

The Eighth Ward, 1900-1917

People of the Old Eighth

Churches and Synagogues in the Old Eighth

Businesses of the Old Eighth Ward

Advertisements in the Old Eighth