The story in The York Dispatch said there were 10 sculptures installed along the first couple blocks of North George Street. I looked -- I could only find nine.

But I'll keep looking.

Because I think they're terrific.

I'm no art expert, that's for sure. But I know what I like, and I like these statues.

Not only do they smarten up the streetscape, they add an element of interest that can be enjoyed by hometowners, out-of-towners and tourists as they walk through downtown York.

If I were pinned down and forced to reveal the things I like best about York City, the short list would include the historic murals throughout the city, the bouquet of beautiful and colorful welded steel flowers along West Philadelphia Street at Foundry Park on the Codorus, and Central Market.

And, of course, the beautiful Bradford pear trees along Market Street when they bloom in the spring.

And now, these statues, which -- one way or another -- focus on York's industrial and manufacturing history, a long and proven history going back several hundred years.

York County has always been known for two things -- its agriculture and its industry. The people who lived in these parts going back 15 generations or more have always known how to grow things and how to make things. It is the core of what and who we are.

So it makes sense that a project headed up by a dozen or so merchants who make up the North George Street Alliance might zero in on our industrial past.


It's a project two years in the making, said Judd Lando, a member of the alliance and a board member for Downtown Inc.

"We told Mayor Bracey we'd be next," Lando said, meaning the corridor on North George Street from Continental Square to Sovereign Bank Stadium would follow the Beaver Street project with a self-improvement project of its own.

So members of the alliance raised $10,000. And then they matched it for a total of $20,000 in private funds -- not one tax dollar was used -- to pay the artists who designed the sculptures.

At the same time that was going on, Lando said, Joe Wagman, owner of Wagman Construction, took responsibility for the North George Street crosswalk project. Again private money -- this time $250,000 -- made it possible.

And before you could snap your fingers, the two projects were joined as one. The artists were working on their sculptures as the crosswalks were being installed.

The plan, Lando said, was to install pieces of artwork at each of the crosswalks so they'd be seen by the greatest number of people.

I don't claim to know what they all are, or what they mean. And I suppose that's how art is supposed to work -- the final piece meaning something different to each of us.

Clearly, I recognized the Tin Man piece sitting on the corner of East Philadelphia and North George streets, next to the county courthouse. And I know an 8-foot-tall red (or orange) rooster when I see one -- on the corner of North George Street and Clark (alley).

But I'm not sure I know the significance -- other than its obvious industrial connection with York County -- of the 10-foot-tall steel-track covered gear and wheel piece across from The York Dispatch, the wooden-gear piece created by Derek Arnold sitting across from the red rooster, or the three-piece glass, stone and tile mosaic mounted on the corner of North George and East North streets.

I love the 5-foot-tall yellow feline (made from horseshoes) and the motorized oversized bicycle -- the one with the bird sitting on the handlebars -- as well.

And I couldn't help but be amused by the three-piece dragon sitting mid-block.

The piece that gave me the greatest pause, however, is the one sitting in front of the CGA Law Firm, 135 N. George St. I'm told its original purpose was to serve as a bicycle rack. I think they call it "functional" art.

But it's a thinker, too. A solitary golden apple (or a piece of fruit of some kind) hangs from the branches of a tree, its roots (pipes and wire) curling down through a pile of wheels, cogs, gears and industrial springs.

It stirs the imagination.

Could the message be that the roots of York County are entwined deeply in industry and that York's future might be golden, too, if its future includes a work force with an ability to work with tools, nuts, bolts and welded steel?

I don't know. I'll give it some more thought.

It's a project designed to enhance the streetscape, improve business along Restaurant Row and act as an impetus for similar projects -- a block at a time -- throughout York City.

It makes York City more interesting, gives it a little personality.

And it's all been paid for with private dollars.

So I ask you ... what's not to like about that?

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: