Indian wigwams, a hickory tree, and a spring - that was old center square "Hickory Town" prior to 1730. In that year, however, significant changes occurred as Andrew and James Hamilton laid out Lancaster Townstead with an open square. Streets crossing at right angles, and three plots designated for a courthouse, a jail, and a market area. In 1744, several hundred indians from the six most powerful, confederated tribes of the middle Atlantic indians signed the Treaty of Six Nations with colonial representatives from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Following meeting in the old courthouse in the square, the indians, in exchange for ?1,200, blankets, guns, rum, and gold, rescinded their rights to disputed land in Virginia and Maryland, renewed former treaties, and swore allegiance to the British against the French.
Sam Adams, John Adams, Charles Carroll, John Hancock, and Robert Morris walked through this very location on September 27, 1777, when Lancaster was host to the Continental Congress. Other famous visitors have included George Washington (1791), Andrew Jackson (1819), Marquis de Lafayette (1825), William Henry Harrison (1836), Sam Houston (1848), Zachary Taylor (1849), Abraham Lincoln (1861), Ulysses S. Grant (1876), Woodrow Wilson (1895), and John F. Kennedy (1960).
During the 18th and 19th centuries, center square enjoyed a local color indicative of Lancaster's trade and personalities. The square was a public market until a market house was built on the northwest corner in 1757. Robert Fulton's father owned a tailor shop at the northeast corner while in the southwest sector Joseph Simon, indian trader, operated one of the largest trading stores in the colony.