Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania
Keystone Marker
Bird-in-Hand is located in Pennsylvania
Location within the U.S. state of Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°2′20.5″N 76°11′23.2″W / 40.039028°N 76.189778°W / 40.039028; -76.189778Coordinates: 40°2′20.5″N 76°11′23.2″W / 40.039028°N 76.189778°W / 40.039028; -76.189778
CountryUnited States
 • Total0.621 sq mi (1.61 km2)
 • Land0.618 sq mi (1.60 km2)
 • Water0.003 sq mi (0.008 km2)
 • Total402
 • Density650/sq mi (250/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
GNIS feature ID1169655[3]
The Old Village Store Hardware

Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States, with parts lying in East Lampeter and Upper Leacock Townships. The community has a large Amish and Mennonite population.[4] As of the 2010 census, its population was 402.[2]


The area's first inhabitants were Native American Shawnee and the Susquehannock.[4]

The earliest settlers of what was to become Bird-in-Hand were Quakers and Swiss Mennonites. James Smith was the first of the Quakers known to have settled in the area, arriving by the year 1715. William and Dorothy McNabb were pioneer landowners and the owners of the original Bird-in-Hand Hotel. The Quakers built a meetinghouse and two-story academy, which stands today, next to the present day Bird-in-Hand fire company.[4]

The community was founded in 1734. The legend of the naming of Bird-in-Hand concerns the time when the Old Philadelphia Pike was surveyed between Lancaster and Philadelphia. According to legend two road surveyors discussed whether they should stay at their present location or go on to the town of Lancaster. One of them supposedly said, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," which means it is preferable to have a small but certain advantage than the mere potential of a greater one; and so they stayed. By 1734, road surveyors were making McNabb's hotel their headquarters rather than returning to Lancaster every day. The sign in front of the inn is known to have once "portrayed a man with a bird in his hand and a bush nearby, in which two birds were perched," and was known as the Bird-in-Hand Inn. Variations of this sign appear throughout the town today.[4]

In 1834 construction began on the 86-mile Pennsylvania Railroad line between Philadelphia and Columbia. Bird-in-Hand, featuring tanneries, feed mills, coal and lumber yards, was the most important stop on the Lancaster to Coatesville section.[4]

In 1836 the village post office was established as the Enterprise Post Office, as the village was then officially called, until the name officially changed to Bird-in-Hand in 1873.[4]

The town remained relatively unknown until a musical called Plain and Fancy opened in New York in 1955. The play was set in the village of Bird-in-Hand and is often credited as a catalyst for the boom in Pennsylvania Dutch Country tourism in the mid-twentieth century. The Plain & Fancy Restaurant opened in 1960, and is the oldest "family-style restaurant" in the area.[4] Bird-in-Hand is often named in lists of "delightfully-named towns" in Pennsylvania Dutchland, along with Intercourse, Blue Ball, Lititz, Bareville, Mount Joy and Paradise.[5][6][7][8][9]

In 1968 the Smucker family opened a small 30-room motel called the Bird-in-Hand Motor Inn, with an adjacent coffee shop, in hopes of capitalizing on the growing tourist trade in the area. Over the years, the small coffee shop grew into the larger Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant & Smorgasbord[10].

In 1976 the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market opened adjacent to the Bird-in-Hand Motor Inn.[4]

The Bird-in-Hand Village Inn and Suites was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[11]

The town is home to the Bank of Bird-in-Hand, the first bank in the United States to open following the passage of the Dodd Frank Act.[12]


Tourism is very important and many businesses cater specifically to tourists. Many of these businesses have an Amish theme, such as horse and buggy rides and crafts.

Museums and historic sites[edit]

  • Amish Country Homestead
  • Lampeter Friends Meetinghouse[13]
  • Don & Ann Antiques Roe



  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Bird-in-Hand History at
  5. ^ Ward's quarterly (1965) p.109 quote: such delightfully-named towns in Pennsylvania Dutchland as his native Mount Joy, and neighboring Lititz, Blue Ball, Bareville, Intercourse, Bird in Hand, and Paradise.

  6. ^ Anderson (1979) p.214 quote:

    ...but anyone who names their towns Mount Joy, Intercourse, and Blue Ball can't be all bad. Obviously they have more on their minds than just religion.

  7. ^ Museums Association (2006) p.61 quote:

    Which brings us to Intercourse. You can imagine my delight when I found out that the Amish call the town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, their home. There see fewms to be a lot of explanations from locals trying to pass off the name as a bastardisation of 'Enter Course' and so on, but seeing as there are other local towns called , Bird In Hand, and Mount Joy, I suspect that the person responsible had a very juvenile sense of humour. The town sits in upstate Pennsylvania and is a tourist trap for anyone even remotely curious about the Amish way of life.

  8. ^ Rand McNally and Company (1978) p.52
  9. ^ Mencken (1963) p.653 quote:

    In the years since then many of these names have been changed to more elegant ones,2 and others have vanished with the ghost towns they adorned, but not a few still hang on. Indeed, there are plenty of lovely specimens to match them in the East, in regions that were also frontier in their days, e.g., the famous cluster in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania: Bird in Hand, Bareville, Blue Ball, Mt. Joy, Intercourse and Paradise.

  10. ^ "History of Bird-in-Hand". Bird-in-Hand. Retrieved 2019-01-28.
  11. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  12. ^ "A Local Bank in Amish Country Flourishes Amid Dearth of Small Lenders". The Wall Street Journal. March 29, 2015.
  13. ^ See Keystone Fellowship Friends Meeting


External links[edit]