Saturday, January 24, 2009

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Early in June (of 1770) the town plot of Wilkes-Barre was planned by Major Durkee, and under his direction was surveyed and platted by Samuel Wallis, a skilled surveyor and his assistants. The plot was laid out on the level stretch of land, comprising some 200 acres, lying just northeast of Fort Durkee. It was in the form of a parallelogram, its longer sides being parallel with the river, and it was bounded on the northeast by what is now known as North Street; on the southeast by the present Pennsylvania Avenue; and the southwest by South Street, and on the northwest by River Street. The parallelogram was intersected by three cross streets, now known as Northampton, Market and Union, while lengthways it was intercepted by Main Street. No names were given to any of these streets until some years later.

In the center of the town plot there was laid out a space containing four acres and forty one perches of ground. The space was diamond-shaped. This diamond formed a part of the common, or public, undivided lands of the township of Wilkes-Barre, together with what now is know as River Common.

Originally no name was officially applied to the central space in the town plot; but in the course of a few years it became known as "the public square". Later it became known as "Center Square", and as early as 1801 was indiscriminately referred to in contemporary documents and records as "the Center Square", and "the Public Square". Through it, at an early day, ran the streets now known as Main and Market, intersecting each other at the center of the diamond. Market Street became known at an early day as "Center Street", but after a market house was built on the square, Center Street gradually came to be called Market Street, and just as gradually the square became known as Public Square. Often, however, it was referred to as Market Square.

From Wilkes-Barre, the "Diamond City", and Its Environs by Oscar Jewell Harvey.