Once, Shenandoah was the most densely populated square mile in Pennsylvania, a breathtaking Babel of coal miners and their families who had roots in the British Isles and eastern Europe. By the 1890s, though, a quarter of its population was drawn from Lithuania and the town was known to European Lithuanians as “Shenadorius.” Decades of economic distress took their toll on this onetime boomtown, and today the place typifies the coal district in its dreary decay. Still, Shenandoah exemplifies the quintessential urban landscape of the Southern Anthracite Field—it is a city composed entirely of close blocks of narrow wooden row houses, the streetscapes studded with an amazing array of churches and parochial buildings.
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