Central Market – Lancaster, Pennsylvania - Atlas Obscura

Central Market

The oldest farmer's market in America is so ancient it was approved by the King of England. 


The oldest continuously operating farmers market in the United States, fresh produce has been sold here in Pennsylvania Dutch country since the 1730s when it was legitimized by official decree from the King of England himself.

When the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was first founded as Hickory Town, town planner James Hamilton created a 120-foot square space to serve as a centrally located marketplace. King George II granted the market permanent status in 1742, and the market has kept operating in the same area since. Starting as an open-air venue and then using small sheds, Central Market is now housed in a Romanesque Revival building built in 1889.

Produce and meats from nearby farms have always been a staple of Central Market, and continue to be sold today alongside baked goods, flowers, candy, herbs, and specialties from the Amish community as well as Greek, Italian, German, Thai, African, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Once a small open-air marketplace in colonial Pennsylvania fields, Lancaster’s Central Market continues to bring local foods to modern city residents even without the king’s approval.

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