Lancaster ( LANG-kə-stər) is a city located in South Central Pennsylvania which serves as the seat of Pennsylvania's Lancaster County and one of the oldest inland towns in the United States. With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities. The Lancaster metropolitan area population is 507,766, making it the 101st largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and second largest in the South Central Pennsylvania area.
The city's primary industries include healthcare, tourism, public administration, manufacturing, and both professional and semi-professional services. Lancaster is best known for being the hub of Pennsylvania's Amish Country. Lancaster was home to James Buchanan, the nation's 15th president, and to congressman and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens.
Originally called Hickory Town, the city was renamed after the English city of Lancaster by native John Wright. Its symbol, the red rose, is from the House of Lancaster. Lancaster was part of the 1681 Penn's Woods Charter of William Penn, and was laid out by James Hamilton in 1734. It was incorporated as a borough in 1742 and incorporated as a city in 1818.
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.
Lancaster was capital of Pennsylvania from 1799 to 1812, after which the capital was moved to Harrisburg.
In 1851, the current Lancaster County Prison was built in the city, styled after Lancaster Castle in England. The prison remains in use, and was used for public hangings until 1912.