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South Central Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.jpg
Lancaster Pennsylvania downtown.jpg
Hershey, Pennsylvania.JPG
Wm Goodridge House.JPG
Clockwise from top left: Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and Hershey
CountryUnited States
Largest cityLancaster
Other cities
 (2013 Estimate)
 • Total2,072,336
Time zoneUTC-5 (ET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)

South Central Pennsylvania is an ambiguous region of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania that usually includes Dauphin County and the surrounding area, amounting to upwards of a fifth of the state's area.

Despite the designation South Central Pennsylvania, many of the associated counties are geographically located in the southeastern portion of the state. Lancaster, with a population of 59,322, is the largest city in the region, and the second largest metropolitan area. Harrisburg, with a population of 49,528, is the second largest city in the region, and has the largest metropolitan area with a population of 643,820 people, and is the capital of Pennsylvania. York is the other significant city in the region.


South Central Pennsylvania is notable for its large Amish and Mennonite populations in its rural areas, but the area also has significant African American and Puerto Rican populations in many of its urban cities, particularly York, Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Lebanon.[citation needed]

Beginning in the late 1600s and the 1700s, the area was initially settled by mostly Protestant ethnic groups, particularly ethnic German, Dutch, English, Scottish, and Ulster Scots populations. The late 19th and 20th century saw an increase in immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and parts of Southern Europe and Eastern Europe, with many of these more recent immigrants and their descendants concentrated in the region's urban and industrial centers. Many residents of the southern portion of this area commute to Baltimore especially from York County.

The area is home of the Pennsylvania state capital; being the site of the bloodiest battlefield of the Civil War, and being the home of Hershey's chocolate and the York Peppermint Pattie. South Central Pennsylvania has also hosted two former capitals of the United States during the American Revolution: Lancaster and York. The region is drained primarily by the Susquehanna River, flowing southwards to Chesapeake Bay and further to the Atlantic Ocean.



Main article: Pennsylvania Dutch English

Certain inhabitants of South Central Pennsylvania speak with the Susquehanna dialect.[2] The Susquehanna dialect incorporates influences from the Philadelphia accent and that of Pennsylvania Dutch English, and is found throughout the region, especially among older generations of citizens.

The Central Pennsylvania accent is commonly spoken in the western and northern counties of the South Central Pennsylvania region.


Further information: Harrisburg in film and television

The most significant film set in the region is the 1985 film Witness starring Harrison Ford, Danny Glover, Alexander Godunov, Kelly McGillis, and Viggo Mortensen. It was set in and filmed in the borough of Strasburg and the village of Intercourse, both in Lancaster County.

The film Lucky Numbers starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow was filmed throughout Harrisburg and Palmyra, and was based on the 1980 Pennsylvania Lottery scandal. Its screenplay was written by Harrisburg native Adam Resnick.

The movie Girl, Interrupted, starring Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder, was filmed in Mechanicsburg, as well as at the Harrisburg State Hospital in Harrisburg. Mechanicsburg was chosen for its old fashioned appearance and its old-fashioned drug store simply titled "Drugs," all of which gave the film its time-dated appearance.[3]

The Strasburg Rail Road in Lancaster County simulated scenes of Springfield, Illinois for The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by the Public Broadcasting Service, and for Stealing Lincoln's Body by The History Channel.[4] The Woodward Hill Cemetery and the Landis Valley Museum were also used to simulate the Oak Ridge Cemetery and other scenes of 1870s Springfield.

Scotland, PA, a modern retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth, is set in Scotland, a small town in Franklin County (though it was not filmed there). Historically, Scotland, Pennsylvania was originally settled by Scots-Irish Americans, and there are still people named McBeth living in the area.

The Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movie Hollywood or Bust shows an establishing shot (likely taken by a 2nd unit film crew) of the Laughlin Mill in Newville, Cumberland county.


Music in the South Central Pennsylvania region varies from the popular genres such as Rock and roll, Hip hop, Jazz, Rhythm and blues, Country, etc. to the softer melodies of the Amish and Mennonites. A few mainstream acts got their start in South Central Pennsylvania, such as the alternative rock quartet Live from York. Another rock band called Fuel started off playing in local venues in Harrisburg. The most famous bands from the region are the 1980s glam metal band Poison from Mechanicsburg and rock band Halestorm from Red Lion.

The region's Amish population inspired "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1996 parody of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise called "Amish Paradise." The accompanying music video featured Weird Al in typical Amish clothing, with traffic signs reading "Welcome to Lancaster."


Further information: Sports in South Central Pennsylvania

South Central Pennsylvania possesses a strong sporting tradition beginning at the youth level to the minor leagues. The Hershey Bears, a regional team, are the oldest team of the American Hockey League and have won many of its championships. Professional baseball has a strong presence in the South Central Pennsylvania region with three teams: the Harrisburg Senators, the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals; and the Lancaster Barnstormers and York Revolution of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

The Barnstormers and the Revolution are geographical rivals, contending for the Community Cup, the trophy for the War of the Roses series. As the Pennsylvania cities of Lancaster and York are named for the English cities of the same name, their former baseball teams possessed the names of the Lancaster Red Roses and the York White Roses, after the rival sides of the Wars of the Roses.


  1. ^ "The Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Road". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  2. ^ Susquehanna dialect
  3. ^ Information on the filming of Girl, Interrupted at Harrisburg State Hospital, including a studio press release on the building and Dorothea Dix.
  4. ^ For TV needs, county becomes Land of Lincoln - News - Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine. (2009-02-08). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.