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Archive for January, 2012

A window to the world: Hershey Park zoo

 
Entrance to Hershey Park Zoo, ca.1934-1941

Entrance to Hershey Park Zoo, ca.1934-1941

 

 

Until the mid 20th century there were relatively few wild animal collections in the United States. Not surprisingly, zoos were a “big city” attraction. Large urban areas had the resources and the potential audience to support such an exotic and unique attraction.  Some of the United States’ best known zoos, such as the Philadelphia Zoo (1874), Baltimore Zoo (1878), National Zoo (1889) and Bronx Zoo (1899), did not open until the end of the 19th century. 

Milton Hershey believed in providing his town with experiences not typical for a small town.  Hershey Zoo began in 1905 with an exhibit of prairie dogs in Hershey Park.  In 1910 the Zoo formally opened.  Hershey Zoo sought to feature exotic animals in its exhibits.  Lions, leopards, monkeys and exotic birds were popular early attractions.

 

Milton Hershey visits with the zoo's newest addition, a baby elephant.  ca. 1935-1940

Milton Hershey visits with the zoo's newest addition, a baby elephant. ca. 1935-1940

 

During Milton Hershey’s lifetime Hershey Zoo was a local attraction.  Animals were added to the zoo because they became available or someone had a special interest in having a particular specimen in the zoo.   In the era before television, zoos played an important role educating the public about animals and environments different than central Pennsylvania.

 

The zoo was particularly successful in breeding animals in captivity.  Lion quintuplets were born at Hershey Zoo on Easter Sunday in 1936.  The mother’s name was Erie and the father was Leo.  The cubs would have been sold or traded to other zoos when they were old enough.

 

Hershey Park Zoo closed at the end of the 1971 season as part of Hershey Estates’ plans to modernize Hershey Park.  In 1978 it was redeveloped as ZooAmerica, an accredited zoo that features exhibits of animals native to North America, with naturalized animal habitats.

 

 To see more images of Hershey Zoo and ZooAmerica, check out the Archives’ Flickr photo sets.

Surveying Hershey

Last January (2011) the Archives received a collection of 226 field survey books created over the course of 70 years as Hershey engineering crews surveyed newly acquired land and recorded plans for bridges, roads, trolley lines, buildings and residential lots.  Beginning with the first entry, dated June 22, 1902, the books document the development of the Hershey community as Milton Hershey planned and built his model town.

 field-survey-book-cover-thb

 

Within the books’ pages, you can trace the route of Hershey’s trolley system and see through whose property the trolley lines passed, see the footprint of the new chocolate factory and how it was placed on the designated land, follow the evolution of Hershey Park, the development of Hershey’s residential streets and lots, and see how the town grew and evolved.

 

 

 

The Archives exhibit case in The Hershey Story lobby highlights materials from its collections.

The Archives exhibit case in The Hershey Story lobby highlights materials from its collections.

 

 

 

In the Archives’ changing exhibit case located in the lobby of The Hershey Story, a new exhibit features four of the field survey books and connects the information in the books with other archival records to tell a story of Hershey’s past.  Here’s an example from the exhibit:

 

 

 

Drawing of new Hershey Chocolate Company smokestack, 1924.  Field Survey book #33, p. 142

Drawing of new Hershey Chocolate Company smokestack, 1924. Field Survey book #33, p. 142

 

 

 

Hershey Chocolate factory expanded frequently to meet the growing demand for Hershey’s milk chocolate.  An article in the Hershey Press noted the chocolate factory’s need for new power. 

 

Hershey Chocolate Company, plan for new smokestack, 5/19/1924

Hershey Chocolate Company, plan for new smokestack. 5/19/1924

 

 

In 1924 the engineering department drew up plans for the new powerplant including plans for a new smokestack.  Later that year the powerhouse was enlarged with five new boilers and a new yellow-brick smokestack to meet increased demands for power to run the factory.   Like Hershey Chocolate Company’s other smokestacks, plans called for “HERSHEY” to be spelled out in darker bricks.

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by The Hershey Story and check out the Archives exhibit case to see more examples from the Field Survey Book collection.  It will be up through March 2012.