CONEY Street has fallen on hard times. Once the city's premier shopping street, now it is a victim of high street decline, with several empty, boarded-up shops.

Will it revive? Only time will tell. On the plus side, the will exists to reverse its demise – city traders and council leaders have pledged to work together to kick-start its revival. We all want that to happen, after all, it is one of the earliest and most important thoroughfares in the city.

Coney Street was first documented between 1153-8, recorded as Kunegestrate (from the Old Norse words kunung "king" and straet "street") – so literally Kings Street. The name, as well as archaeological evidence, tells us that Coney Street predates the Viking era, when "gate" became the word for "street".

In the 13th century, many of York's leading citizens lived in Coney Street, and from the mid 13th century several of England's wealthiest Jewish families resided there too, drawn no doubt by the neighbouring synagogue (now the retail store Next).

By 1614, that particular site had become a coaching stop, The George Inn. Famous guests, included Castle Howard architect John Vanbrugh, and Charlotte Bronte and her sister Anne, who stayed at The George on the night of May 24/25, 1849.

The postcard image of The George we share today dates from 1867, but the writing was on the wall for the inn. It appears to have been demolished in 1869 when Leak & Thorp moved on to the site. Only fragments of the original coaching inn now remain, among them a single Tuscan column. A plaque, erected by York Civic Trust, commemorates The George Inn, and can be seen today by Next.

The George and its fellow coaching inn The Black Swan (where the former Bhs building stands) were at the heart of life in Georgian York. Back in the 18th century, the street would have been even busier than in modern times because it was the main arrival and departure point for stage coaches (the first scheduled stage coach from York to London set off from Coney Street in 1706).

Lanes from Coney Street also led down to landing stages on the River Ouse where passengers could disembark or board sailing ships.

You can catch a glimpse of the coaches and horses in Coney Street in Georgian York in an our image showing the street from the Mansion House (reproduced courtesy of the York Architectural and York Archaeological Society).

The Mansion House – home to the city's Lord Mayor – is one of the most famous buildings in the street, and happily lives on in fine fettle today. It was built near the beginning of the Georgian era, opening in 1732 following a seven-year construction.

Jumping into the 19th century, we have an image of The York Herald office in Coney Street, which it moved to between 1815 and 1820. A second image shows the Yorkshire Herald/The Evening Press offices in Coney Street in 1911. The city's newspaper left Coney Street in 1989 when it moved its HQ to Walmgate, where it still operates.

Our photo from 1897 shows a Coney Street bedecked in flags and bunting to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The clock on the side of St Martin Le Grand church, which still helps us keep the time today, shows that it is 10.15. On the right, the sign for cigars indicates the tobacconist and cigar importer Robert Sinclair. Next door is John Gray and Sons – this was a musical instrument dealer that also traded in Hull. They had bought the business from Mr Marsh in 1883.

Fast forward a couple of decades into the Edwardian era and we have a couple of photographs showing people out shopping in Coney Street.

The first dates from 1906 and we can see women dressed very finely in long, white dresses, in gloves and hats – and spot a few horses, carts and bicycles in a relatively quiet road. At the top of the street, on the corner of St Helen's Square, stands the Yorkshire Insurance Company, now Harkers wine bar. To the left, is Victoria House, now shops and restaurants.

In the second photo, dating between 1900 and 1910, the rain does not appear to have deterred shoppers out in Coney Street. Again, we see some horses and carts and a few bicycles – the motorcar was yet to arrive in York. Note the huge glass windows of the shop fronts, and, again, the clock on the side of St Martin Le Grand.

Coney Street has had a long and colourful past – we hope its future is as bountiful.