York was established by settlers from South Carolina in the early 1830s and named for York, England. By 1838, it was known as New York and had a large enough population that townspeople built a cabin that was used as a schoolhouse and for religious services. The town became a center for farming and cotton production with gins and warehouses. When the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad passed through during the Civil War to connect Rome, Georgia, with a Confederate military hospital in Lauderdale, Mississippi, the town’s name was changed to York Station. In the 1870s, the Alabama Great Southern Railroad linked York Station to Meridian, Mississippi. The town was incorporated as York on April 6, 1881.
York Historic Caboose Around 1885, the sale of alcohol was prohibited, and the town remained dry until 1968. About 1910, the Alabama, Tennessee, and Northern Railroad built a shop in York, stimulating economic development. The Bank of York was established in 1911 and is now park of Investar. An electric plant was constructed in 1911, and water and sewer systems in the 1920s. Railroad traffic diminished in the years right after World War II, prompting workers and families to move to other towns, particularly Mobile. The first African American mayor was elected in 1996, and the first woman mayor, also African American, was elected in 2000.
According to 2020 Census estimates, York recorded a population of 2,448. Of that number, 87.7 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 9.4 percent as white, 2.9 percent as Hispanic, and 2.9 percent as two or more races. The town’s median household income was $32,135, and the per capita income was $15,242.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in York was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (26.3 percent)
- Retail trade (16.5 percent)
- Manufacturing (13.6 percent)
- Public administration (12.1 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.9 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (7.0 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (4.8 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (4.3 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (2.6 percent)
- Wholesale trade (1.7 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (1.5 percent)
- Information (1.2 percent)
- Construction (0.5 percent)
Public education in York is administered by Sumter County, which oversees one junior high school and one high school. The University of West Alabama is located approximately 10 miles away in Livingston.
York is accessed by U.S. Highway 11 and State Highway 7, which run northeast and southwest, and State Highway 17, which runs north-south. York lies approximately two miles south of Interstates 20 and 59. The Norfolk Southern Corporation operates a rail line through York. Demopolis Municipal Airport lies approximately 24 miles from York and provides general aviation services.
Events and Places of Interest
The Coleman Center for the Arts was established in 1985 and sponsors art programs, classes, and numerous other activities for members of the community. The city oversees several parks and Lake Louise, which provides opportunities for boating and fishing and features a nature trail. The City of York Sports Complex includes a walking path and playground equipment.