Lancaster City Is Not “Amish Country”

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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    1. Janet Grayson

      I once lived in Lancaster Township

      I lived right near the Buchanan estate on South President Ave as a child(late 40’s-1950.) At the time there were multiple(4?) farmer’s markets and there were many Amish venders at the time. My mother said I would complain that all I could see was skirts!! Anyway I would imagine that there were many more Amish to be seen in the city at that time. It was a great place to live which has changed greatly over the years. The media really has no idea what the area is like.

      1. Very interesting. I bet that was a sight to see. I would have loved to see the era when the trolley system was operating.

      2. Shelley Castetter

        I live in Lancaster County

        Amish do not live in the city. Could there be a random one or two who do? Maybe but not likely. You do have Mennonites who do. I’ve lived here 30 years and frequently have to go in town and other then specific business related reasons have never seen Amish living there. The article was accurate.

    2. Richard Traunero

      Amish country

      Typical media, not knowing anything about anything.

    3. liz

      spinning flax

      I am looking for plans or a supplier for Flax seed and the tools to process it for spinning.

      Thank you


      1. Joe

        Source for flax stuff

        You can try this site:

        I met Johannes Zinzendorf years ago at The Hermitage and he was very friendly. I don’t know if they are still into all things flax. You can try the email and phone number on the site.

    4. Geo


      I saw flax being grown in Belgium and Netherlands. I believe the processing of flax into linen is still an important industry there. That may be a clue to where to look for seeds and related stuff like tools and equipment.

      And who ever heard of Lancaster being the capital however briefly? Is this an educational site or what!

      1. Neat little fact, isn’t it. From the wiki page:

        During the American Revolution, Lancaster was the capital of the United States for one day, on September 27, 1777, after the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia, which had been captured by the British. The revolutionary government then moved still farther away to York, Pennsylvania.[11]

    5. Dan Hochstedler

      "Lancaster" not synonymous with "The Amish" either

      Lancaster County and the surrounding area may be about the oldest, the best known, and is the largest Amish settlements in North America, but it is NOT representative of ALL Amish groups. Scholars have identifed over 40 different “groups” of Old Order Amish, in over 500 settlements in 31 states and 3 Canadian provinces. As a native Midwestern Amish, I have traveled and seen and read too much to let the Lancaster Amish define all of us.

    6. Dan Hochstedler

      "Lancaster" not synonymous with "The Amish" either

      You are exactly right. Lancaster County and the surrounding area may be about the oldest, the best known, and is the largest Amish settlement in North America, but it does’t representat ALL Amish groups. Scholars have identifed over 40 different “groups” of Old Order Amish, in over 500 settlements in 31 states and 3 Canadian provinces. As a native Midwestern Amish, I have traveled and seen and read too much to let the Lancaster Amish define all of us. Thank you.

      1. Yoder in Ohio

        So well said!!! Thank you for pointing this out!

      2. Aj

        There are so many similar but different Amish groups, and there is really a uniqueness that separates each of them caused by time and cultural drift. Amish in Lancaster are of course a large part of the contemporary Amish population as they always have been, but they aren’t the only community, and who knows what the community will look like tomorrow. Maybe in 40-yrs Kentucky or NY will be home to the largest community. Maybe in 40-yrs the Amish will change entirely and cease to exist. Everything is but one generation away, but as we look at things today, the Amish are widespread and exist in dozens of communities. Wherever they exist, there is an Amish country.

    7. Lancaster Amish

      Disney World is NOT all of Florida either. Or in the case of the Amish, Pinecroft on the West Coast. It’s a shame to generalize so much that it becomes part of reality.
      Ask yourself: When you hear the word “Amish” what or where do you think of?
      When you hear the word “Florida” what or where do you think of?

    8. Lancaster Amish

      I have lived in Lancaster County for over seven decades and attended both the Central and Southern Markets in the 60’s and early 70’s. I do not believe any Amish have ever lived in the city during my lifetime although they do venture into the city, on occasions by horse & buggy. Normally when they come into town, they hire a driver. The Amish do own some rental properties in Lancaster city and do own stands at the Central Market.

      Lancaster City and Lancaster County are almost like two separate entities. The city has become quite liberal while the county is more conservative.

    9. Mette Karlsen

      So true, and well-written!

      Good morning, To the author of this article, THANK YOU!! Everything you said was right on target, and couldn’t have been better said. This is a great service you’ve done for all of us.

      1. Gladly – I first noticed some coverage of Twitter where locals were pointing out that there was a difference, and figured a proper short article might come in handy. It’s not surprising that some media run with the “Amish Country” angle, but also unsurprisingly seems to be national coverage rather than more local outlets.

    10. Jean Pierre

      Amish Alsace

      Text translated into French by translator.

      Historically Gumbrechtshoffen was split into two parts cut by the Zinzel river from the North

      Gumbrechtshoffen (Oberbronn) is the western slope of this small village in the Northern Vosges which, with the arrival of the Amish families (1750), prospered a lot.

      This Amish and / or Anabaptist influence brought a real and decisive mark in the spiritual space of the Northern Vosges, where the radical pietism of a good part of the Lutherans was already very widespread.

      During the week, Bible studies, choirs or “bedroom”, “kitchen”, “barn”, “farmhouse” and “meadow” cults have existed almost everywhere. But on Sunday all these people gathered in the pews of the Lutheran Church.

      In this context over the centuries the Anabaptists, Mennonites, Amish, brought another dimension to commitment to the faith

      There is therefore a local peculiarity linked to this past.

      But in Gumbrechtshoffen the community of families of believers known as “Taufgesinnte” very early therefore around 1860 built an independent building dedicated to worship and reserved for this one and only function. It would be the first “Free Church” built.

      We can say that it was a first in the Rhine area in any case, in North Vosges.

      Built by families of Amish origin (1750) then (and / or) Mennonites (1800), the descendants finally joined the flowering of the 40 places of worship of Samuel Frohlich from 1840/1880.

      The last Nazarenes abandoned (1990) this place of worship, which by inheritance went to its current owner residing in a retirement home. (80 years old).

      There is also a farm “——–” which is listed in the registers of regional architecture under the name of “Mennonite farm” also called “Täuferhoff” with a “Tauferbrunne”.

      This farm was sold by the last operator (2010).

      I would like to get in touch with a “historian” (Amish USA) to whom these places “speak” and who wishes to document the historical elements at his disposal.

      I think of the “Lutterbacherhoff,” of Gumbrechtshoffen which certainly resonates with your families when they are the descendants of those emigrants of this Gumbrechtshoffen, of yesteryear.

      The glory of God is manifested when the initially hostile world finally sees what God has done with those whom he has drawn from lethal situations.

      With this hope, see you soon and cordial greetings to you all.

      Jean Pierre

    11. Aj

      This is a good topic. A lot of people that are not from the area think of Lancaster County as being comprised of mostly Amish. So when they get to Lancaster City and other areas nearby, they get disappointed with the scenery. That of course is their fault, and not doing enough research before visiting didn’t help any. In Lancaster county, Amish country is basically the rural areas and small towns. That is what people refer to as Amish country. Tourists should not be fooled by gimmicks either, such as Amish Village. While Amish Village is useful for learning about the Amish, people should avoid assuming it’s a real Amish village. Before their travels to “Amish Country” do some research.