The word “Amish” is getting attached to the events in Lancaster city following an incident in which a man was shot and killed by police. Specifically, some media sources have been framing this as something like “trouble in Amish Country” – but that is a mis-framing.

Lancaster city is in the middle of Lancaster County, but it’s hardly “Amish Country”. There are a good number of tourist attractions and lodging located just east of the city on Highway 30, like Dutch Wonderland and the outlets, but that’s not really “Amish Country” either (though I guess that’s a different discussion).

It may possess the same name as the county which is home to the best-known of all Amish communities, but this city of about 60,000 is not a Berlin or Shipshewana or Mt. Hope or Topeka. Amish people don’t live in Lancaster city, though you fairly quickly start to see Amish places once getting out of town especially heading in easterly directions. “Amish Country” lies in the countryside beyond Lancaster city.

Also, Amish people don’t seem to spend a ton of time in Lancaster city, with one exception being a handful of vendors at Lancaster Central Market. Another would be when they want to take Amtrak somewhere, or maybe to handle some legal matters or other business, I suppose. Those who live nearby may also visit stores, such as the shopping centers on the north side of the city.

The city itself is historic (having served as the nation’s capital for one day in 1777) and quite beautiful in parts. It also has areas which have a reputation for crime. What it doesn’t have a lot of is clip-clopping buggies and the like.

amish landscape lancaster

So if you go to Lancaster city, don’t expect to see a lot of Amish people or too much to do with the Amish – that is outside of the city. Though, and I can’t say for sure, perhaps the Amish presence there looked differently in another era – when an extensive trolley system linked the city with the county’s more rural areas and towns, including places like Strasburg and Ephrata.

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