North Sixth Street Historic District
Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a Historic American Buildings Survey document, North Sixth Street (Houses), [HABS PA-5204], 1985, Washington D.C. Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The North Sixth Street Historic District, a National Register Eligible District, located in Uptown Harrisburg ,Pennsylvania, encompasses the North Sixth Street corridor and portions of the adjacent side streets from Maclay Street to Radnor Street. The area is roughly bounded on the south by Maclay Street, on the east by Jefferson Street, on the north by Radnor Street, and on the west by Bersinger Alley, which is just east of North Fifth Street.
North Sixth Street, the district's principal traffic artery and traditional retail service corridor, bisects the North Sixth Street Neighborhood in an east/west direction. The adjacent residential streets, maintain the classic grid pattern, representing an expansion of the older City further south, occurring in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Physically, this area is experiencing marked deterioration. It is an area of contrasts, from the Sixth Street commercial corridor, to the surprisingly intact adjacent residential blocks. The traditional rhythm of the street scape is often disturbed on Sixth Street but continues to prevail on side streets. Demolition and modern intrusions are chiefly responsible for the lack of street scape harmony.
Within the North Sixth Street Historic District, brick is the primary building material. However, individual frame structures and frame rows can also be found. Street patterns consist of two, two and a half and three story attached and semi-detached rows, with three story row housing being most pervasive. Not withstanding, detached dwellings are found sporadically located throughout the district. Most buildings are one and two family structures, with few multi-family buildings to be found within the area. Many of the area's buildings are also characterized by single story front porches at zero set backs or with small front yards.
Noteworthy buildings in the North Sixth Street District include the Camp Curtin Fire Station, which is located on the corner of North Sixth Street and Reel's Lane and which is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Camp Curtin Memorial M.E. Church, located at North Sixth Street and Wharton Alley, the Sixth Street Evangelical United Brethren Church, located at 2337 North Sixth Street, the Evangelical Congregational Church, located at North Sixth and Radnor Streets, the Dauphin Deposit Bank Building located on the western corner of Maclay and North 6th.
The North Sixth Street Historic District has a most interesting settlement pattern. Sixth Street was originally known as Ridge Road and was a major thoroughfare northward from the early City. Ridge Road developed in a northward linear pattern as a Victorian commercial corridor and later became an important City trolley line. Because Ridge Avenue was on high ground it developed earlier than the territory farther to the west along the Susquehanna River, which generally developed from 1915-1935. The latter was originally marshland susceptible to flooding and was for the most part undevelopable until improved technology allowed for substantial filling and grading in the 20th Century.
The majority of the district was annexed to the City in 1895, incorporating the small village known as Schuddemageville, which had been laid out in 1884 at Fifth and Woodbine Streets. The ground north of Maclay Street was used first in 1857 as the Dauphin County Fairgrounds. From 1861-1865 the old fairgrounds were used as a Union Army Civil War training camp and supply center. This area was known as Camp Curtin, named for Andrew Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War, The camp played an active role in defending Harrisburg against the planned rebel invasion of the capital, which instead resulted in the battle of Gettysburg In 1863.
In the period from the 1860's through the 1920's much of the area was part of the railroad community. Due to its proximity to their work, many railroaders and their families lived in the blocks adjacent to Sixth Street. Curtin Heights, laid out from Fifth to Seventh Street and from Woodbine to Curtin Street in 1889, was long a railroad neighborhood, as the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad was located three blocks east of North Sixth Street along the vacated bed of the Old Pennsylvania Canal. Generally, most of the district's buildings were constructed in the 1880 to 1920 period although some buildings date from the 1860's.