A wondrous place in the spring. When trees...

WASHINGTON IS

April 17, 1992

WASHINGTON IS a wondrous place in the spring. When trees BTC and flowers are in bloom, it just might be the best looking capital in the world.

This is a good time to get involved in a what-might-have-been tour and visit some other nearby places that once were and, under a different set of circumstances, still could be U.S. capitals.

Such a tour would naturally start with a visit to Annapolis (U.S. capital in the 1780s). Philadelphia (capital in the 1790s) would be next, best reached on scenic U.S. 1 from Baltimore, which was never a capital but in 1776 was a temporary meeting place of the Continental Congress.

A return trip would proceed through Lancaster, Pa., which was the nation's capital for one day (Sept. 27, 1777), when Congress stopped there while fleeing Philadelphia after the Battle of Brandywine. Then on to York, Pa., which served as the capital from Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778, while the British occupied Philadelphia. The first national Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued from York.

York makes an interesting visit, particularly on Saturdays. That is the time to visit its Central Market House at 34 West Philadelphia St., a veritable cornucopia of produce, flowers, handicrafts and traditional Pennsylvania Dutch baked goods. A separate farmers' market is held several blocks away.

York also has a couple of good antique stores. And Historic York Inc. operates one of the best architectural surplus depots around -- everything from door knobs and fireplace mantels to iron fences and balustrades.

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