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HersheyArchives@30, Part 6: Planning a Town

By the late 1890s, Milton Hershey was convinced that his future lay in producing chocolate rather than caramels. In 1900, the same year Hershey introduced Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, he sold his Lancaster Caramel Company to competitors for $1 million to devote all his energies to his quickly expanding chocolate business.

By 1902 it was obvious that a new, larger factory was needed to produce milk chocolate. After inspecting possible sites for his new chocolate factory in New York, New Jersey and Maryland, Hershey was soon convinced that the central Pennsylvania countryside would provide everything he needed for a factory: a plentiful water supply, access to rail lines, fresh milk and industrious workers.

Since Hershey planned to build his factory in the middle of farmland, not in a town, it was clear from the start that he would have to provide a place for at least some of his workers, as well as his managerial staff, to live.

In 1902, working with a real estate broker, Milton Hershey began acquiring land in Derry Township.

By the time Hershey broke ground for his new chocolate factory in 1903, he had acquired over 1200 acres of land in Derry Township and the surrounding area. Clearly, Milton Hershey had bigger plans than simply building a chocolate factory.

The Archives is fortunate to hold this hand-drawn map in its collections. Individual land purchases are identified by a colored outline. It is apparent that Hershey made several different land acquisitions that were pieced together to form a significant land mass.

Superimposed on the map’s outline of land purchases is a pen and ink drawing that reveals the outlines of the future town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

A closer look reveals the location of the new chocolate factory, residential streets, a car barn for the new trolley system and trolley tracks, a new schoolhouse and the location for a new building on the north side of the Berks & Dauphin Turnpike. Proposed street names have been recorded in pencil: Chocolate Avenue for the Turnpike, Cocoa Avenue for a main street coming from the south. Streets for the residential area will carry names of cocoa growing regions: Ceylon, Caracas, Granada, Trinidad.

Milton Hershey’s vision and desire to build a model industrial new town, as revealed with this map, are confirmed with articles that were published locally and in business trade journals.

On February 19, 1903, the Harrisburg Independent published an article describing Milton Hershey’s plans:

A New Town Near Derry Church to Cost a Million

To Be Built By M.S. Hershey the Chocolate Man

Is Leaving His Lancaster Plant and Will Build Up a Modern Laboring Community for Benefit of 600 Employees

A new town which will have a population of 1500 will be built midway between Derry Church and Swatara, this county, along the line of the Philadelphia and Reading railway, by M.S. Hershey, the Lancaster chocolate manufacturer, who has large manufacturing interests in various parts of the State.

He has already begun work there on the erection of a new factory, which will employ 600 men, to supersede the plant at Lancaster, and his purpose in building the new town is to form a modern dwelling community for his employees and their families. Mr. Hershey has planned an expenditure of $1,000,000 to further his enterprise.

The town will be laid out along plans of modern manufacturing communities which are now springing up, all over this country, patterned after those in England. It will contain grass plots for pleasure parks in which there will be fountains and stone walks. The street will be made of crushed stone taken from the quarries and stone crushing machinery has already been installed.

The factory would be completed in 1905 and the town would develop along the lines revealed in the map.

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