CENTRAL MARKET A Living Tradition
Central Market is the cornerstone of Lancaster’s living history and a daily reminder of the enduring vitality of community life. When you shop at Central Market, you are participating in a cultural tradition that touches four centuries. For this reason, Central Market was named one of “America’s Great Public Places,” bringing people from many walks of life together in a vibrant and beautiful historic environment.
A Proud History
Central Market has been continuously operating on the same ground since 1730, bringing the bounty of Lancaster’s fields into the heart of the city. The present building, constructed in 1889, was designed by James H. Warner, an English architect who eventually made Lancaster his home. The magnificent markethouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and The Library of Congress has recognized the unique significance of Central Market as a Local Legacy to our Nation.
But the Central Market building’s commanding presence in the heart of downtown is part of a much older history. The market and the town were deeded from the same plot of land and came into existence at the same time, making Central Market a monument to the foundation of Lancaster itself, and to the fertile lands of Pennsylvania’s Piedmont. Central Market was officially chartered in 1742 by King George II to the young settlement of Lancaster and its residents, winning Lancaster the coveted designation as a Royal market town.
A Promising Future
Founded on a belief in the common good, the market sustains authentic and essential relationships between people and places. Many standholder families have sold at Central Market for four and five generations — and many patrons represent an even longer generational span — fostering a strong sense of community that is rooted in the rich soils of Lancaster County’s farmlands and the rich fabric of its social life.
Central Market continues to be a strong presence because of its commercial viability. With more than 60 standholders, it offers everything from fresh produce, meats and dairy products to prepared foods, specialty items and crafts. Plus, Central Market prices are often lower than those at supermarkets, the selection of fresh produce is often greater, and there’s no better place to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Want to learn more?
The History of Central Market [opens new window]
Public Markets FAQ [PDF 75.1 KB - opens new window]
Central Market Master Plan [PDF 7.52 MB - opens new window]