Historic Downtown Lancaster

Visit The Small City That Changed America

Enjoy the beauty and authenticity of this charming historic downtown. There’s so much to see and do – an exciting 19th-century farmers market, engaging museums, lively art galleries, interesting architecture, one-of-a-kind shops, and unique restaurants offering local foods, family faire, and fine dining.

You’ll learn stories about the people, places, and events that changed America. A visit to friendly downtown Lancaster is a fun, relaxing, affordable, and memorable experience.

Ten Lancaster Stories –
It All Happened Here

1. Before Amish Quilts and Shoo-Fly Pies

1. Before Amish Quilts and Shoo-Fly Pies

The history of Lancaster began with the Susquehannocks, Indian traders, an Englishman by the name of William Penn, and Swiss Mennonite families escaping religious oppression.

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2. Equality for All Americans

2. Equality for All Americans

Thaddeus Stevens, Lancaster’s representative to Congress was the leading force in the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

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3. A Brush With Greatness

3. A Brush With Greatness

Lancaster has always been a center for the arts. Nationally renowned artists like Jacob Eichholtz, Charles Demuth, and David Brumbach found creative inspiration living in Lancaster.

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Click on the photo to enjoy a short video.

4. Treaty of 1744 - A Rousing “Jo-Ha!”

4. Treaty of 1744 - A Rousing “Jo-Ha!”

In the summer of 1744, Indian chiefs from the six Iroquois nations came to Lancaster to meet with representatives of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to resolve land disputes.

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5. Wagons Ho!

5. Wagons Ho!

Conestoga wagons in the 1700s, pulled by teams of horses, moved the freight that grew our nation.  Wagons going to and from Lancaster inspired the nation’s first turnpike in 1794.

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6. Pennsylvania Rifles are Born in Lancaster

6. Pennsylvania Rifles are Born in Lancaster

Lancaster was the birthplace of the Pennsylvania Rifle and the leading riflemaking center in the colonies.  These innovative rifles were made for trade, hunting, and to fight the British.

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7. The Decorative Arts Flourish

7. The Decorative Arts Flourish

Lancaster artisans created furniture and other decorative objects for the home as the town grew and prospered.  Their work often rivaled the best Philadelphia had to offer.

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8. Revolutionary Ideas

8. Revolutionary Ideas

Lancaster riflemen fought with distinction.  Lancaster played an important role in feeding and supplying our troops.  Lancaster patriots helped create our new government.

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9. Lancaster’s Rich and Varied Architecture

9. Lancaster’s Rich and Varied Architecture

Lancaster still has many of its architectural treasures.  The downtown has great buildings, public and private, representing Georgian, Federal, Victorian, Beaux Arts, and Modern styles.

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Click on the photo to enjoy a short video.

10. War Between the States

10. War Between the States

Lancaster had an important role in the Civil War.  Thaddeus Stevens, Lancaster’s representative to Congress was the leading force in passing the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

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