History in the Painting: The Murals of York Bring 250 Years of American Stories to Colorful Life

'Harley-Davidson Tradition' Kick-Starts Tours of Open-Air Gallery in Historic District

YORK, Pa., Aug. 28, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- In downtown York, the walls talk. Not in spoken words, but in bold, vivid brush strokes that comprise The Murals of York. More than 20 larger-than-life murals, weaving through an open-air gallery in the historic district, bring to colorful life York County's rich 250-year history.

From colonial times to the industrial era, from the Great Depression to World War II, The Murals of York tell some of the uniquely American stories that have played out in York County.

You'll practically flip your powdered wig, standing among members of the Continental Congress as they draft the nation's first constitution, also known as "The Articles of Confederation." You'll feel the heat as pugs of clay are molded, painted, glazed and fired into finished Pfaltzgraff dinnerware in "The History of Pottery." Your biceps will burn as you lift your eyes to "Muscletown USA" and the birth of York Barbell Co. and modern bodybuilding.

The Murals of York rumbled into existence in 1996, kick-started by "The Harley-Davidson Tradition," and continue this month with the painting of a tribute to Army Gen. Jacob Loucks "Jake" Devers and the nearly 13,000 other York County residents who served in World War II.

In 1973, Harley-Davidson moved its final assembly plant to the York area, transforming a factory that had made bombs and bowling balls into the birthing room for an American icon. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton visited the plant while they were in office, as do tens of thousands of tourists each year. Many of them also make a pilgrimage to the Harley mural.

Painted by artist C. Michael Svob of British Columbia, Canada, the Harley mural measures 34 feet wide and 26 feet high. It features the image of company founder Arthur Davidson superimposed over a street scene of an early motorcycle shop on York's Beaver Street. Elsewhere in the painting, a motorcycle rider participates in York County's annual Jefferson Hill Climb; two employees work on motorcycle gas tanks; and, in the upper right, a young Elvis Presley enjoys a ride on his Hog.

The local Harley factory is York County's largest manufacturing employer and its biggest tourist attraction, according to the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau. In fact, the bureau this year claimed the mantle of Factory Tour Capital of the World, offering free factory tours by Harley, The Pfaltzgraff Co. and 13 other York County manufacturers.

Judy Fronzaglia, manager of The Murals of York, said the focus on factory tours dovetails with the outdoor paintings.

"They both celebrate the pride and craftsmanship that have made York County one of the leading centers for manufacturing in the world," she said. "Many people who tour the Harley and Pfaltzgraff plants will want to enhance that experience by taking their picture in front of 'The Harley-Davidson Tradition' or 'The History of Pottery.' And murals such as 'The Power of the Printing Press,' 'York Manufacturing Company,' and 'York Goes to War -- A Community Responds' bring further depth and clarity to understanding the simultaneous evolutions of American democracy, ingenuity and industrial might."

"York Goes to War," measuring 80 feet wide and 28 feet high, describes The York Plan, which pooled the community's workers, machinery and material in order to tackle massive defense contracts during World War II. While that painting honors efforts made on the home front, the newest mural is a tribute to York County's World War II soldiers.

The mural will adorn a wall of the YMCA at 90 N. Newberry St., only minutes from where Devers grew up. A graduate of York's William Penn High School and West Point, Gen. Devers led the Allied invasion of southern France during the war, earning him the title "Liberator of France."

The mural will be painted by artist Wayne Fettro of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County. Fettro has contributed two other paintings to The Murals of York: "York County 250th Anniversary" and "Dr. George Holtzapple, the Breath of Life." It is expected to be completed by early September.

"For tourists, the great thing is that the murals are open all the time," Fronzaglia quipped. "It's such a pleasant stroll among them, past Victorian and other architectural gems along York's tree-lined streets. And the mural district intersects with Heritage Rail Trail County Park, a 20-mile linear park that starts about one block from the Harley mural."

For more information about The Murals of York, a new full-color brochure titled "Come See The Murals of York" and a walking-tour booklet that includes detailed descriptions about each mural and the history behind it are available by calling (717) 812-0722. The brochure is free; the walking-tour booklet costs $1.

A downloadable version of the brochure is available on the city of York's Website, www.downtownyork.org. The site also offers an interactive map of the murals district, including pictures of each painting, and links to information about other mural districts in the United States and Canada. From the home page, click on the "Play" button and proceed to the "Murals of York" button.

Photo available for this release: The Murals of York began in 1996, kick-started by 'The Harley-Davidson Tradition.' To view photo, go to www.enewsrelease.com/pressroom and enter release I.D. 28927

CONTACT: Murals of York
         Judy Fronzaglia
         (717) 812-0722