Amish Tourists On Staten Island, NYC

SI Live has published photos of Amish visitors to Staten Island, NYC in a nice slice-of-life look at Amish tourism.

Of course “Amish tourism” usually means non-Amish people visiting places like Lancaster County.

But as these images show, tourism goes the other way too.

It seems that reporter Jan Somma-Hammel was at a Staten Island beach when a vanload of Amish happened to pull up. They were there to catch the sunrise on the boardwalk and dunes, part of a tour of the city.

The group is from Chautauqua County, the Clymer area. It’s one of the state’s oldest and largest communities, founded in the mid-1970s and now at 10 church districts in size.

I liked a few things in this story.

First, it’s always attention-getting when Amish pop up in an urban landscape. Plain people walking against the backdrop of skyscrapers or a major NYC bridge is eye-catching for the obvious reasons.

I also like how this brings out the fact that Amish enjoy seeing sights too, even the “big city,” which would be about the last place they’d actually choose to live.

As it goes with one of my Amish friends, he enjoys NYC…but just for a visit.

But the most interesting thing in this story to me is the driver, a man named William Lucas, who we’re told has been with this group for 40 years.

Lucas must have gotten acquainted with people in Chautauqua County very early on in the development of their settlement, when it was just several years old. How nice to have a relationship like that spanning four decades.

Lucas is described as “friend, photographer, and driver” with the group. Naturally the middle description – photographer – caught my attention.

I wonder if this was self-described, or if that was how the author saw him.

Maybe he does regularly take offhand photos for his Amish passengers. The photo below is credited to Lucas in the article. A nice shot.

The Clymer community has its origins in the Geauga County, Ohio settlement. They are relatively more progressive compared to other significant communities in the Empire State.

So perhaps having an English friend along who also takes unstaged pictures is something these people are okay with, or even appreciate.

Hat tip to Ed for bringing this story back to my attention.

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    8 Comments

    1. Thank you for sharing this information with us. Somehow we forget that Amish people like to observe interesting places outside of their own home cultural communities…like some of “us” like to see things outside of our own niche in life. We appreciate the Old order Amish very much and have taken tours from Ontario four times to visit such places as Lancaster, Shipshewana and Holmes County. Keep doing what you are doing…it is appreciated. G. Denniss

    2. Geo

      What's the attraction?

      Considering their ethics, I wonder what Amish find interesting about the Staten Island life style? Is it a freak show to them? My Amish friend from Steuben County has traveled a lot but he seems to go to other agricultural areas where the Amish life style is or might be lived.

      Sorry if it’s off topic but I’m struck by the photo showing birds crowding utility wires: it’s a once common sight I miss. News about the decline in worldwide bird population is painfully obvious here in southern California. In spite of a lush environment birds should love, few are ever seen on the wire crossing my back yard or in trees, and my offerings of food attract very few takers.

      1. There is something impressive about the human achievement it takes to build the massive skyscrapers and other elements of a city regardless of your background. Seeing things like monuments and historical places. I wouldn’t be surprised if this group stopped at the 9/11 memorial. I don’t think they are there to admire the urban lifestyle so much as to take in the traditional sights. Staten Island though is the calmest and most suburban of the five boroughs, from what I understand. I didn’t realize NYC had a beach area much less sand dunes.

        That is a lot of birds on those lines, now that you mention it. Funny how they’re packed in on the one side with all that free space to the right.

    3. Love traveling

      Although I haven’t personally witnessed them, my friends have seen vans full of Amish travelers at nearby Niagara Falls. This natural wonder of the world continues to attract sight seers from all over the world! The Amish have also been spotted appreciating the beautiful state parks in NYS, Letchworth and Allegheny are 2 favorites.

      Amish families are regularly on buses traveling through this area from Canada, Finger Lakes region, Tennessee, PA, Ohio, and more, to visit family members. They are also familiar with the rail system to take them where they need to go. Has anyone ever seen them in airports? I wouldn’t be too surprised!

      Thanks, Erik, for your informative and educational website. My friends and I have great respect for this culture and want to earn their trust.

      1. Marcus Yoder

        I am not going to say no Amish has ever flown in an airplane. All the Amish i am related to and know do not fly. Even trips to Europe are by ship.
        Marcus Yoder

        1. Susannah

          Amish in the air

          Our Amish friends from Lancaster flew to Alaska for their honeymoon.

      2. That’s great Linda Mary. Sounds like a lot of Amish travel activity in your area. It’s possible the folks on buses and railway are the plainer groups as that is the way they tend to travel long distances (more progressive Amish groups would be more likely to travel by van with a driver).

        As far as airports, as Marcus says, it is not something you’ll see a lot of and even when they travel to Europe, for instance on a heritage tour to visit places from Anabaptist history, it will be a sea crossing.

        However, Amish from New Order churches allow flying, and there is even an Amish individual in Ohio who helps book flights for other Amish people. It’s possible that some non-New Order people are flying as well, though that is not the accepted norm.

        Thanks for reading and commenting, and I am glad if you have found this site useful!