The first pioneer Amish groups settled in Lewis County in upstate New York at the end of the 1800 and many have moved south since then.
A good trip from New York is to visit the Amish settlements around the City or, if you have more time, to see the large Amish County in nearby Pennsylvania: the Amish region of Lancaster.
In the interested area (which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York), the recent attempt to subject the horse carts to the regulation of motor vehicles clashed with a frontal rejection of the religious community in the past few months.
The battle began when the authorities of a small county proposed to subject the wagons of horses, used by the Amish religious group, to the same regulations as the cars. The argument was forcing them to obtain a driver's license and to use safety belts and rear-view mirrors in order to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities. But for the Amish leaders this motion invaded their traditional values, according to statements made in different local media, so the local council ruled out the proposal.
The Amish are members of a Christian religious movement based in the United States, belonging to one of the most conservative branches of Christianity.
They choose to live away from modernity and technological advances and they lead a simple country life because according to their thinking it is the real way to live religiously without material ostentation. Within their territories, time seems to have stopped, because of the rusticity of their houses and the absence of cars since they use carts and wear the clothes in the fashion of their ancestors of the eighteenth century.
The children go to the regular school until high school, but they do not follow higher studies, although they have the highest average in the country, their life is oriented to maintain the community and live under the rules decreed by the authorities of the Amish church.
It can therefore seem very bizarre to spot Amish people in New York State, but it is true they have settled in some rural areas just outside our big City.
In some Amish communities (including those in New York State), when teenagers turn sixteen years old (considered the age of reason according to Amish traditions) are offered a period called Rumspringa during which they are given some freedom to interact and participate in recreational activities.
Many of them move away from their communities and to bigger cities (including New York City) and during this period decide to quit the Amish religion or choose to live life as Mennonites, that is to pursue higher studies and a career while maintaining some main Amish values.
Some of them completely abandon their traditions and move to the City where they start a more ‘modern’ lifestyle and, unfortunately, in the majority of cases they are disowned by their families of origin.
Conservative Amish do not have electricity and therefore do not watch television or use the Web, they do not own telephones or wear modern clothes, they do not use cars and they oppose military service since they are openly pacifists. Even in their daily tasks in the field they choose not to use modern machinery and they live by selling their produce or handmade goods such as embroideries, quilts and clothes.