Allentown, Pennsylvania

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For the song by Billy Joel, see Allentown (song). For the neighborhood in Pittsburgh, see Allentown (Pittsburgh).
Allentown
Home Rule Municipality
City of Allentown
Center City Allentown, Pennsylvania, 2010
Center City Allentown, Pennsylvania, 2010
Flag of Allentown
Flag
Official seal of Allentown
Seal
Nickname(s): "The Queen City",[1] "A-Town",[2] "Band City USA",[3] "Peanut City",[4] "Silk City".[5]
Motto: "Sic Semper Tyrannis"
Location in Lehigh County
Location in Lehigh County
Allentown is located in Pennsylvania
Allentown
Allentown
Location in Pennsylvania
Coordinates: 40°36′06″N 75°28′38″W / 40.60167°N 75.47722°W / 40.60167; -75.47722Coordinates: 40°36′06″N 75°28′38″W / 40.60167°N 75.47722°W / 40.60167; -75.47722
Country United States
Commonwealth Pennsylvania
County Lehigh
Settled 1751
Founded 1762
Incorporated March 12, 1867
Founded by William Allen
Named for William Allen
Government
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D)
 • City Attorney Jerry Snyder
 • City Controller Mary Ellen Koval
 • City Council
 • Senate Pat Browne (R)
Area
 • Home Rule Municipality 18.0 sq mi (46.5 km2)
 • Land 17.8 sq mi (45.9 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.6 km2)
 • Urban 289.50 sq mi (749.79 km2)
 • Metro 730.0 sq mi (1,174.82 km2)
Elevation 338 ft (103 m)
Highest elevation 440 ft (130 m)
Lowest elevation 255 ft (78 m)
Population (2013)[6]
 • Home Rule Municipality 118,577 (US: 224th)
 • Density 6,631.0/sq mi (2,571.5/km2)
 • Urban 664,651 (US: 61st)
 • Urban density 1,991.0/sq mi (768.7/km2)
 • Metro 827,048 (US: 68th)
 • Metro density 1,117.8/sq mi (431.6/km2)
 • Demonym Allentonian
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 18101, 18102, 18103, 18104, 18105, 18106, 18109, 18175, 18195
Area code(s) 610, 484, 835
FIPS code 42-02000
GNIS feature ID 1202899[7]
Primary Airport Lehigh Valley International Airport- ABE (Major/International)
Secondary Airport Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport- XLL (Minor)
Website http://www.allentownpa.gov/

Allentown (Pennsylvania Dutch: Allenschteddel) is a city located in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is Pennsylvania's third most populous city, after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the 224th largest city in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 118,032 and is currently the fastest growing city in Pennsylvania.[8] It is the largest city in the metropolitan area known as the Lehigh Valley, which had a population of 821,623 residents as of the 2010 U.S. Census and which constitutes a portion of the New York City Metropolitan Area. Allentown is the county seat of Lehigh County.[9] In 2012, the city celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding in 1762.[10]

Located on the Lehigh River, Allentown is the largest of three adjacent cities that make up a region of eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey known as the Lehigh Valley. Allentown is 50 miles (80 km) north-northwest of Philadelphia, the fifth most populous[11] city in the United States, 90 miles (140 km) east-northeast of Harrisburg, the state capital, and 90 miles (140 km) west of New York City, the nation's largest city.

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

The area that is today the center of Allentown was laid out as Northampton Town in 1762 by William Allen, a wealthy shipping merchant, former mayor of the city of Philadelphia and then-Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania. The property was part of a 5,000-acre (20 km2) plot Allen purchased on September 10, 1735 from his business partner Joseph Turner, who was assigned the warrant to the land by Thomas Penn, son of William Penn, on May 18, 1732.[12] The tract was originally surveyed on November 23, 1736.[12] A subsequent survey done in 1753 by David Schultz for a road from Easton to Reading, of which present-day Union and Jackson streets were links, shows the location of a log house owned by Allen, situated near the western bank of the Jordan Creek, which was believed to have been built around 1740. Used primarily as a hunting and fishing lodge, here Allen entertained prominent guests including his brother-in-law, James Hamilton, and colonial governor John Penn.[12]

Trout Hall, built in 1770 by James Allen (son of Allentown founder William Allen), is the oldest house in Allentown. From 1867 to 1905, it served as the home of Muhlenberg College.

The original plan for the town, now in the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, comprised forty-two city blocks and consisted of 756 lots, mostly 60 feet (18 m) in width and 230 feet (70 m) in depth. The town was located between present-day Fourth and Tenth Streets, and Union and Liberty Streets. Many streets on the original plan were named for Allen's children: Margaret (present-day Fifth Street), William (now Sixth), James (now Eighth), Ann (now Ninth) and John (now Walnut). Allen Street (now Seventh) was named for Allen himself, and was the main thoroughfare. Hamilton Street was named for James Hamilton. Gordon Street was named for Sir Patrick Gordon, Deputy Governor of Colonial Pennsylvania from 1726–1736. Chew Street was named for Benjamin Chew, and Turner Street was named for Allen's business partner, Joseph Turner.[12]

Allen hoped that Northampton Town would displace Easton as the seat of Northampton County and also become a commercial center due to its location along the Lehigh River and its proximity to Philadelphia. Allen gave the property to his son James in 1767. Three years later, in 1770, James built a summer residence, Trout Hall, in the new town, near the site of his father's former hunting lodge.[13]

On March 18, 1811, the town was formally incorporated as the Borough of Northamptown. On March 6, 1812, Lehigh County was formed from the western half of Northampton County, and Northampton Town was selected as the county seat. The town was officially renamed "Allentown" on April 16, 1838, after years of popular usage. Allentown was formally incorporated as a city on March 12, 1867.[14]

Liberty Bell and the American Revolutionary War[edit]

Main article: Liberty Bell

Allentown holds historical significance as the location where the Liberty Bell (then known as the Pennsylvania State House bell) was successfully hidden from the British during the American Revolutionary War. After George Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia was defenseless, and that city prepared for British attack. The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ordered that eleven bells, including the State House bell and the bells from Philadelphia's Christ Church and St. Peter's Church, be taken down and removed from the city to prevent the British, who would melt the bells down to cast into cannons, from taking possession of them. The bells were transported north to Northampton-Towne, and hidden in the basement of the Old Zion Reformed Church, in what is now center city Allentown. Today, a shrine and museum in the church's basement, known as the Liberty Bell Museum, marks the spot where the bell was hidden.

President Theodore Roosevelt addressing a crowd of supporters from the balcony of the Hotel Allen, 7th and Hamilton Streets, in 1914.

After the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Hessian prisoners-of-war were kept in the vicinity of present-day Seventh and Gordon Streets. The Old Zion Reformed Church, and a house near James (now Eighth) and Hamilton Streets, served as hospitals for injured and sick Continental Army troops. In 1777, a factory manufacturing paper cartridges for muskets was relocated here from nearby Bethlehem. That same year, a shop of sixteen armorers was established along the Little Lehigh Creek, and employed in the repair of weapons and the manufacture of saddles and scabbards.[12]

American Industrial Revolution[edit]

Photo of Center Square (Seventh and Hamilton Streets) prepared for the Victory/Peace parade after the Armistice with Germany, 11 November 1918. Decorated lavishly is the "Peace Pavilion" (foreground) and the "Soldiers & Sailors Monument", which was dedicated in 1899 in honor of the Pennsylvania Volunteers' 47th Regiment in support of the Union in the American Civil War.

Prior to the 1830s, Allentown was a small town with only local markets. The arrival of the Lehigh Canal, however, expanded the city's commercial and industrial capacity greatly. With this, the town underwent significant industrialization, ultimately becoming a major center for heavy industry and manufacturing. While Allentown was not as large as neighboring Bethlehem at the time, the local iron industry — which included the Allentown Iron Company (established 1846) and the Allentown Rolling Mills (established 1860) — employed the majority of Allentown's workforce.[12] Railroads, such as the Lehigh Valley Railroad, were vital to the movement of raw materials and finished goods, and employed a significant workforce during this time. This period of rapid economic growth in the region was halted by two events, the Panic of 1873 and the Long Depression.

In addition to the iron and railroad industries, Allentown also had a strong tradition in the brewing of beer and was home to several notable breweries, including the Horlacher Brewery (founded 1897, closed 1978),[15] the Neuweiler Brewery (founded 1875, closed 1968)[16] and Schaefer Beer, whose brewery was later owned by Pabst Brewing Company and Guinness[17] but is now owned by the Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams.[18]

Early 20th century to present[edit]

Main entrance to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, 1950.

The silk and textile industries brought about economic recovery in the early 20th century. The Adelaide Silk Mill, one of the largest in the world at the time, opened in Allentown in 1881. By 1928, there were more than 140 silk and textile mills in the Lehigh Valley, making it the second largest industry in the region. By the 1930s, the silk industry was in worldwide decline, as synthetics were taking the place of silk. Catoir Silk Mill, the last silk mill in Allentown, closed in 1989. In 1905, Mack Trucks moved to Allentown, beginning Allentown's focus on heavy industrial manufacturing. Today, Allentown's economy, like most of Pennsylvania's, is based in the service industries with some manufacturing. Deindustrialization has caused many of the factories and corporations headquartered in Allentown to close or move. For example, Mack Trucks is now located in Greensboro, North Carolina, LSI Corporation (formerly Western Electric, later Agere Systems, which merged with LSI Logic) moved its headquarters to California, and numerous factories have ceased operation. On the other hand, the Allentown Economic Development (AEDC) operates a business incubator, the Bridgeworks, which helps attract and support young commercial and manufacturing businesses.

Historic locations[edit]

see: Historical and Notable Sites in Allentown, Pennsylvania for additional information

Allentown has several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

Geography[edit]

Topography[edit]

Allentown is located at 40°36'6" North, 75°28'38" West (40.601697, −75.477328).[19] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (46.6 km2). 17.8 square miles (46.1 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2) is water. Bodies of water include the Jordan Creek and its tributary, the Little Lehigh Creek, which join within the city limits and empty into the Lehigh River. Other bodies of water within the city limits include Lake Muhlenberg in Cedar Creek Parkway and a pond in Trexler Park.

The city sits within the Lehigh Valley, a geographic region bounded by Blue Mountain, a ridge of the Appalachian mountain range, which varies from 1,000 to 1,600 feet (490 m) in height about 17 miles (27 km) north of the city, and South Mountain, a ridge of 500 to 1,000 feet (300 m) in height that borders the southern edge of the city.

The city is the county seat of Lehigh County. The adjacent counties are Carbon County to the north; Northampton County to the northeast and east; Bucks County to the southeast; Montgomery County to the south; and Berks County and Schuylkill County to the west.

Surrounding municipalities[edit]

Further details (including smaller communities) can be found in the location box at the bottom of this article.

Climate[edit]

Allentown lies in the transition between a humid continental and humid subtropical climate (Köppen Dfa/Cfa, respectively), although lying closer to the former. Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold. Precipitation is almost uniformly distributed throughout the year.

The average temperature in January is 27.8 °F (−2.3 °C), and the lowest officially recorded temperature was −15 °F (−26 °C) on January 21, 1994. July averages 73.4 °F (23.0 °C), and the highest temperature on record was 105 °F (41 °C) on July 3, 1966. Early fall and mid-winter are generally driest, with February being the driest month with only 2.75 inches (70 mm) of average precipitation.[20]

Snowfall is variable, with some winters bringing light snow and others bringing numerous significant snowstorms. Average snowfall is 34 inches (86 cm) seasonally,[21] with the months of January and February receiving the highest at just over 11 and 9 inches (230 mm) each. Rainfall is generally spread throughout the year, with eight to twelve wet days per month,[22] at an average annual rate of 43.52 inches (110.54 cm).[23]

Allentown falls under the USDA 6b Plant Hardiness zone.[24]


Cityscape[edit]

Neighborhoods[edit]

Center City, which includes the downtown area and the 7th Street retail and residential corridor, is the city's central business district and the host to various city, county and federal government centers. To the east of Center City are "The Wards," the areas that developed as residential areas during the city's industrial boom of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Just east of the Lehigh River are the city's East Side residential neighborhoods, most of which border the various routes to nearby Bethlehem. South of Center City, and across the Little Lehigh Creek, are the city's South Side neighborhoods, which border Emmaus. Lastly, there is West End Allentown, which comprises most neighborhoods west of 15th Street.

Central Business District Redevelopment[edit]

Center City, Allentown, Pennsylvania. At 322 feet (98 m) tall, the headquarters of PPL is the tallest building in Allentown.

Plans for a major redevelopment of the Central Business District of Allentown were announced in late 2009 as a result of Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) legislation passed by the Pennsylvania legislature.[27] Focused on the 7th and Hamilton Streets area, a 5-acre (2.0-hectare) one square block was acquired in 2011 in which several new structures are planned to be erected:[28]

  • PPL Center. This is to include a large 8,500-seat arena, whose primary tenant will be the Lehigh Valley Phantoms American Hockey League (AHL) team. The arena will also include a sports bar and a retail shop at an estimated cost to build of US$177.1 million.[28]
An integral part of the PPL Center is the 180-room Marriott Renaissance Hotel restaurant and banquet center, constructed at an estimated cost of $23.5 million. Entrance to the hotel will be through the rebuilt Dime Savings and Trust Company building, which will also house the administrative offices for the PPL Center. Hotel guests will check in at the Dime Bank's 26-foot (7.9 m)-high lobby, which includes a mezzanine that will be used as a lounge area. Access to the rooms will be though the Dime Bank's elevator. The second floor will provide a lounge/library area. The Dime Bank building will also connect to the hotel's restaurant, over the entrance to the arena itself and banquet facilities, some of which overlook the interior of the arena.[29]
The PPL Center also includes two parking decks to be owned by the city. One five-story parking deck with 640 spaces is to be built on Linden Street, behind the hotel. A second parking lot, with 120 spaces, is to be built under the office building on Hamilton Street at an estimated cost of US$19 million.[28]
  • One City Center is incorporated into the PPL Center. It is occupied by the Lehigh County Health Network as the Lehigh Valley Hospital's sports medicine center. Opening in July 2014, the building is located along the south side of Hamilton Street, between the Farr Building and the entrance to the PPL Arena on the southwest corner of Center Square. The first floor will be retail space with the upper floors consisting of a large fitness center, a sports performance center, a center for rehabilitation services, concussion management and also occupational medicine.[30][28]
  • Two City Center, opened in February 2014, is located on the southeast corner of Center Square on the site of the former First National Bank. An eleven-story building, it is principally the headquarters of Penn Bancshares, which occupies floors seven to eleven. The building also provides Class-A office space, with retail stores and other commercial businesses planned.[31][32]
  • Three City Center, currently under construction, is located at 513-17 West Hamilton Street, on the site of the former Colonial Theater. Scheduled to be open in early 2015, it is a large seven-story building providing Class-A office space, retail space, and an underground parking deck.[33]
  • Four City Center, also under construction, is located on the northeast corner of Seventh and Linden Streets, one block north of Center Square. It will be a five-story luxury apartment and retail development, with an opening date of 2015.[34]
  • Five City Center, is a planned office building located on the southwest corner of Center Square, is a complex planned to span an entire block of Walnut Street between Seventh and Eighth streets. The complex is planned to be six or seven stories tall and include a 1,078-space parking deck to serve up to 1,000 office workers in the building during the day and hockey arena patrons at night.[35]

The project has generated some concern centered on the huge cost of the endeavor from funding a plan with no cap.[38] The estimated cost of the project is currently $277 million. As of October 2012, $224.3 million in bonds have been sold.[28][39][40]

Existing structures were demolished in early 2012. However, several lawsuits were filed due to the nature of the funding of the project. The lawsuits were settled in mid-2012, and construction is now underway, with an estimated 2014 completion for the center city district.[citation needed]

Architecture[edit]

Allentown's Center City neighborhoods mainly consist of a variety of Victorian and Federal rowhomes. The stately homes around West Park are mostly Victorian and Craftsman. The houses on the city's tree-lined streets in the West End were mostly built in the 1920s and 1940s. Houses in the City's East Side and South Side are a mixture of architectural styles and are generally single and twin family homes built from the 1940s through the 1960s with century old Victorians in the mix. Allentown also has loft apartments in converted mills and historic brick manufacturing buildings and modern and historic high-rise apartment buildings.

The PPL Building is Allentown's tallest building at 322 feet (98 m). It is 23 stories high and is located at the northwest corner of 9th and Hamilton Street. A Lehigh Valley icon, this Art Deco tower can be seen from places throughout the Lehigh Valley; in clear weather, the tower can be seen as far north as the ski resort pass over Blue Mountain. One of the city's older still-standing structures, Allentown Symphony Hall, at 23 North Sixth Street in Center City, was constructed in 1896.

The City of Allentown is characterized by a large stock of historic homes, commercial structures and century-old industrial buildings.

There are three historic districts in Allentown, Old Allentown, the Old Fairgrounds and West Park neighborhoods. Old Allentown and Old Fairgrounds are Center City neighborhoods that hold a joint house tour organized by Old Allentown Preservation Association (OAPA) once a year in September. The West Park neighborhood also offers a tour of this district's larger Victorian and Craftsman-style homes.[41]

Culture[edit]

Arts and entertainment[edit]

The Allentown Art Museum, located on North Fifth Street in Center City Allentown
The Baum School of Art in Center City Allentown
Young people gather on 19th Street, in Allentown's West End, 2007
Civic Theater of Allentown

The Allentown Symphony Orchestra performs at Allentown Symphony Hall, renamed Miller Symphony Hall, located on North Sixth Street in center city. The city also has a musical heritage of civilian concert bands, and is home to the Allentown Band, the oldest civilian concert band in the United States.[42] The Allentown Band, Marine Band of Allentown, Municipal Band of Allentown and the Pioneer Band of Allentown all regularly perform at the bandshell in the city's West Park. Youth Education in the Arts, the sponsoring organization of The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, is headquartered in Allentown. The city's J. Birney Crum Stadium annually plays host to the Drum Corps International Eastern Classic, which brings together the top junior drum and bugle corps in the world for a two-day event.

The city houses a collection of public sculptures, including the DaVinci Horse, located on 5th Street. This sculpture is one of three in the world.

The Allentown Art Museum, located on North Fifth Street in Center City, is home to a collection of more than 13,000 pieces of art, along with an associated library. The Baum School of Art, located in downtown Allentown at 5th and Linden Streets, offers credit and non-credit classes in painting, drawing, ceramics, fashion design, jewelry making and more.

Nineteenth Street Theater has an 80-plus year history of producing theater in the Lehigh Valley. Started by two Morning Call reporters in 1927 as "Civic Little Theater", the current day Nineteenth Street Theater relies on a paid professional staff, volunteer board of directors from the community, and volunteers from the region. Civic Theater stands on three pillars: theater, film and education. Civic is a professionally directed, managed and run theater that utilizes community actors in its live theater productions. Civic also operates the Lehigh Valley’s only full-time cinema exclusively showing art, independent and foreign films and a theater school that has been served the Valley’s youth for more than 50 years.

Cuisine[edit]

Vestiges of Allentown's Pennsylvania German heritage remain present in its cuisine, and foodstuffs such as scrapple, chow-chow, Lebanon bologna, cole slaw and apple butter are often found offered in local diners and the Allentown Farmer's Market. Shoofly pie, birch beer, and funnel cakes are regularly found at local fairs. Several local churches make and sell fastnachts as a fundraiser for Fastnacht Day, the day before the start of Lent.

As the population of the city has increased, many national restaurant and fast food chains have established a presence in the city. More recently, growth of the city's ethnic populations has led to the opening of many family run restaurants specializing in ethnic cuisine. Ethnic food types represented include Chinese, Colombian, Dominican, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Lebanese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Thai and West Indian.

Due in part to Allentown's proximity to Philadelphia, cheesesteaks are also popular. Yocco's Hot Dogs, a regionally well-known hot dog and cheesesteak establishment with six area locations, was founded in 1922 by Theodore Iacocca, uncle of Lee Iacocca. In addition, A-Treat, a regionally-popular brand of carbonated soft drinks, has been based in Allentown since 1918.

Museums[edit]

Theme parks[edit]

Allentown is home to the area's premier amusement park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.

Sports[edit]

Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Lehigh Valley IronPigs IL Baseball Coca-Cola Park 2008 0
Lehigh Valley Phantoms AHL Ice hockey PPL Center 1996 2

Baseball[edit]

Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Allentown has a history in the sport of professional baseball that dates back to 1884. In 2008, Allentown unveiled Coca-Cola Park, a $50.25 million, 8,100-seat stadium.[43] The stadium was constructed in east-side Allentown to serve as the home field for the Philadelphia Phillies' AAA-level Minor League baseball team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The IronPigs, a member of the International League, are the first Major League-affiliated club to play in the city since 1960.[44]

Basketball[edit]

Allentown hosted the Allentown Jets, an Eastern Professional Basketball League team, from 1958 to 1981. The Jets were one of the most dominant franchises in the league's history, winning eight playoff championships and twelve division titles. The team’s home games were played in Rockne Hall at Allentown Central Catholic High School.

Gymnastics[edit]

Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center, which has been the training ground for numerous Olympians and U.S. national gymnastics champions, is based in Allentown. In 2003, CNN aired a documentary on Parkettes, Achieving the Perfect 10, which depicted it as a hugely demanding and competitive training program.

Ice hockey[edit]

In March 2011, plans were announced for the creation of PPL Center, an 8,500-seat arena to be built in Allentown, which is planned to be the future home for the Adirondack Phantoms, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The arena will be located in downtown Allentown, taking up the entire block between 7th and 8th Streets and Hamilton and Linden Streets. In a controversial decision, the city has invoked eminent domain to help obtain the necessary properties and a contractor is expected to be chosen in 2012. In January 2012, buildings on the current site began to be demolished to make room for the new arena.[45] Construction on the site, however, was placed at a temporary standstill pending litigation on the legality of the financing of the arena. In summer 2012, however, the lawsuits were dropped and the project was resumed. The arena is expected to be completed in 2014.[46][47] The team's name will be the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Soccer[edit]

Allentown was home to the Pennsylvania Stoners, a former professional soccer team. From 1979–1983, the Stoners were members of the American Soccer League. The team had a five-year league record of 76–49–25, and won the league championship in 1980.[48] Due to increasing competition from other soccer leagues, and decreasing attendance, the team folded in 1983.[48] The team was resurrected in 2007 as the Pennsylvania Stoners, and competed in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Based in Allentown, the team originally played its home games at J. Birney Crum Stadium. In 2008, the team captured the NPSL league championship. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Stoners played their home games at Whitehall-Coplay School District's Zephyr Sports Complex in nearby Whitehall Township. However, the team folded after the 2009 season. The former Northampton Laurels FC, of the Women's Premier Soccer League, also played at J. Birney Crum Stadium, until the team folded in 2008. The only professional soccer team in the Lehigh Valley is the FC Sonic Lehigh Valley, based in nearby Bethlehem.

Economy[edit]

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown. In the foreground is Allentown's Albertus L. Meyers Bridge, more commonly known as the Eighth Street Bridge.

Allentown's economy has historically been manufacturing-based. The city serves as the location of corporate headquarters for several large, global companies, including Air Products & Chemicals,[49] PPL, and others.[50] The largest employer in Allentown is Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, with more than 7,800 employees.[51]

In 2008, after more than 100 years in the city, Mack Trucks announced that their Allentown-based corporate headquarters would be relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina in 2009, though Mack continues to operate its primary manufacturing facility in neighboring Lower Macungie Township.[52] It was expected that the move would result in the loss of approximately 600 jobs.[53]

Shopping[edit]

The Center City area along Hamilton Street between 5th and 10th Streets was the primary shopping district in Allentown until the mid-1970s. The "Downtown", as it was referred to, was anchored by Hess's (9th and Hamilton); H. Leh and Company (7th and Hamilton), and Zollinger and Harned (6th and Hamilton) department stores. Along Hamilton street were scores of retail businesses; large banks; movie theaters and various small restaurants and lunch counters. On the second and third stories, professional offices could be found in many of the smaller buildings with storefronts on the first floor. Alfred L. Reichenbach, Mayor of Allentown in the late 1910s, traveled to Europe and saw beautiful hanging gardens and floral lamp posts in Paris and in some cities in Germany. He was also an amateur horticulturist and enjoyed all varieties of flowers and anyone visiting the mayor's office during his tenure would find vases of flowers for all seasons on his desk and tables. In fact, it was he who had floral boxes planted outside the mayor's window so he, and his fellow citizens, could enjoy seasonal floral designs. He believed that it would be a good way to beautify the downtown shopping district and encouraged the City Council with idea of purchasing the floral lamp posts during the renovations of Hamilton Street in 1916.[54]

Businesses generally operated from 9am to 5pm Monday-Saturday, staying open until 9pm on Thursdays and starting in the mid-1960s, also on Monday nights. Until 1952, Lehigh Valley Transit street trolleys operated east-west along the length of Hamilton Street, and also north and south along 8th Street. The major transit station downtown being at 8th & Hamilton.

In the 1950s, a privately owned parking lot system (Park & Shop) to accommodate shoppers and downtown workers began to be built by razing old buildings generally within a block of Hamilton between Walnut and Linden streets, with Hamilton Street merchants providing validation for shoppers parking tickets. In the early 1970s, Hess's and Leh's built large, private multilevel covered parking decks connected to their department stores to attract customers.

In 1966, the Whitehall Mall opened along MacArthur Road, just north of Allentown in Whitehall Township. It was the first enclosed shopping center north of Philadelphia when it opened.[55] Having two major department stores (Sears & Roebuck and Zollinger and Harned) as anchor stores when it opened, its popularity led to the rise of a sprawling retail district along MacArthur Road that continued to expand into the early 1990s. After a major renovation in 1998, the Whitehall Mall's anchors included Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kohl's, and Sears.[55]

In the early 1970s, Hess's South, a satellite location of the Hess's downtown store, expanded to become the South Mall, located in South Allentown, at the city's border with Salisbury Township and Emmaus.[56] Today, the South Mall's anchors include Gold's Gym, Petco, Staples, Stein Mart, and The Bon-Ton.

In 1976, the Lehigh Valley Mall opened, just south of the Whitehall Mall, at the intersection of U.S. Route 22 and MacArthur Road. With more than 140 stores, the Lehigh Valley Mall became the largest shopping mall in the region, and presently has anchors including Boscov's, JCPenney and Macy's. A large outdoor shopping addition opened in October 2007, and includes stores such as Apple and Barnes & Noble. Most recently, The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, a large, upscale outdoor shopping mall, opened just south of the city, near Pennsylvania Route 309 and Interstate 78, in Upper Saucon Township.

Hamilton Mall[edit]

View eastwards of downtown Allentown from in front of Hess's department store at 9th Street, June 1973, during construction of Hamilton Mall Project
View westwards of Hamilton Mall from 6th Street, taken during the summer of 1974, shortly after its completion. The mall included overhead sidewalk and street crossing canopies at half-streets, wide sidewalks with accent lighting, freshly planted trees that lined Hamilton Boulevard from 6th to 10th Streets, and a limited, two-space drop-off, pick-up only parking area. Today, the wide brick sidewalk and trees are the mall's only remnants.

By the late 1960s, the development of suburban strip shopping centers (Lehigh, Crest Plaza, Two Guys, Mountainville, and Parkway) in the area during the late 1950s and 1960s and especially the opening of the indoor Whitehall Mall in 1966 were steadily reducing the number of shoppers along Hamilton Street. Consumers preferred the convenience of easy access via automobile, and the enclosed Whitehall Mall to the pedestrian outdoor sidewalk shopping which was found along Hamilton Street. The City of Allentown hired the firm of David M. Walker Associates in 1969 to explore the needs of Center City. The 1969 Walker Report concluded that automobile traffic had taken over the downtown shopping area and that a traffic-free business district between Linden, Walnut, Sixth and Tenth Streets be developed and to convert the downtown Hamilton Street shopping area to a "Semimall", later known as "Hamilton Mall". Traffic would no longer be allowed on Hamilton Street. The intersection of Eighth and Hamilton would be closed as well as all half streets intersecting Hamilton. This would create a large pedestrian shopping "superblock" between Center Square and 9th Street, with two smaller shopping blocks between Sixth and Seventh and Ninth and Tenth. Center Square would become a large, pedestrian only area with Seventh street being reduced to one lane on each side of the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument. Hamilton Street would be completely rebuilt, with the existing street removed and replaced by a raised brick walking surface. Large, enclosing canopies would be built on each side of the street to provide shoppers protection from the weather, and small buses would operate east-west between 6th and 10th Streets picking up and dropping off shoppers to give them easy access to retail stores.[57]

During a 30-day test in April 1971, traffic on Hamilton Street was shut down between Sixth and Tenth and Lehigh Valley Transit provided small buses, free of charge for shoppers. Walnut Street, which traditionally ran one way east to west, was reversed to run west-east, with traffic along Hamilton Street being diverted south to Walnut at Twelfth street for eastbound travel. Traffic moving westbound on Hamilton Street was diverted north at Sixth, then moved west along Linden to Twelfth, then south to Hamilton, giving the center city a circular traffic flow around the pedestrian-only Center City.

Problems quickly arose. It was difficult for small merchants downtown to receive deliveries, since the half streets were blocked and the narrow streets did not allow turnarounds of small delivery trucks. Also, the new restriction prohibiting automobile traffic on Hamilton Street was unpopular, and the proposed closing of the Eighth and Hamilton intersection was deemed impractical, since it blocked a major north-south route from South Allentown. Within a week, Eighth Street was reopened. The plan was also changed to allow limited two-lane automobile traffic on Hamilton Street one-way west to east, with limited drop-off and pick-up only parking. Traffic lights were installed at each major street and half street with a speed limit of 20 mph (32 km/h). The sidewalks would be expanded outwards with canopies covering them.[57]

Final plans were developed and approval was given by City Council in October 1971. Construction of Hamilton Mall began in early 1972, with construction lasting until 1974. Starting at 10th street and proceeding east, one full block at a time was closed to traffic with the existing street surface and sidewalks removed (including the old trolley tracks which had been asphalted over in the 1950s) along with the sidewalks on each side of the street. In addition, the famous downtown sidewalk street lights, which contained hanging flower gardens, were scrapped. Retail store street signs were also removed, including the large signature Hess's department store sign because they interfered with the sidewalk street canopies. The large parking areas at Center Square and comfort station under the square were also removed and turned into large brick sidewalks, along with the resurfacing of Seventh Street between Linden and Walnut Streets.[57]

The construction of Hamilton Mall caused severe disruption in the downtown shopping area for more than two years. During that time, merchants and Center City employees experienced enormous difficulties as sections of Hamilton Street were closed for months at a time. The sidewalks along Hamilton Street were reduced to single path walkways, and piles of rubble, construction material, the sounds of heavy construction equipment took over the downtown area. During the construction period shoppers tended to avoid the downtown area and shop in the suburban malls and shopping centers.[57]

Officially opened in 1974, Hamilton Mall never lived up to the expectations of the city planners. Large numbers of shoppers did not return to the downtown area. The opening of Lehigh Valley Mall in 1976 and other, smaller malls in the suburbs with outside satellite stores increased the number of businesses closing along Hamilton Street. The major expansion of MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township also led to fewer and fewer shoppers on Hamilton Mall. Improvements were made along Hamilton Mall by removing the overhead sidewalk canopies and installing a new generation of street lights, designed to replicate the hanging flower gardens of the ones removed in the construction were erected to improve the Mall's appearance. Parking meters were installed to allow longer term, but still limited parking. However, by the late 1970s, increased suburbanization led to a general decline in the popularity of the downtown shopping district. Retail shopping downtown declined with the closing of Leh's (1987) and Zollinger's (1978) downtown and culminated with the last major department store, Hess's, being sold-off in 1994, eventually being closed and subsequently demolished in 2000. Instead of a shopping Mecca, the use of downtown Allentown has turned into office buildings and increasingly has become a center-city campus for city and county government workers, along with those of PPL.

Media[edit]

Headquartered in Center City Allentown, The Morning Call is among the 100 largest circulation newspapers in the United States.[58]

Print[edit]

Allentown-based print media include The Morning Call, the city's daily newspaper, and Lehigh Valley and Pocono Sports Extra, a monthly newspaper covering Allentown and Lehigh Valley-area sports. [59]

Television[edit]

Allentown is part of the Philadelphia DMA (designated market area).[60] The four major Philadelphia-based network stations serving Allentown include: KYW (CBS-Philadelphia), WCAU (NBC-Philadelphia), WPVI (ABC-Philadelphia) and WTXF (Fox-Philadelphia). Other available Philadelphia stations include: WPHL-TV (MyNetworkTV-Philadelphia), WPSG (The CW-Philadelphia), and others. Several New York City stations are also available in the area through cable, including WNBC (NBC-New York City), WNYW (Fox-New York City), WPIX-TV (The CW-New York City) and WWOR-TV (MyNetworkTV-New York City).

Additionally, the city is served by three Lehigh Valley television stations: WFMZ Channel 69 (independent) and WBPH-TV (Christian), both in Allentown, and WLVT Channel 39 (PBS) in Bethlehem.[61][62][63]

Over the Air reception in Allentown spans from the channels serving the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre television market and the Philadelphia television market, along with the three Lehigh Valley television stations. A couple of the market stations also have translator systems in Allentown including WNEP-TV (ABC) from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and WTXF-TV (Fox) from Philadelphia.

Radio[edit]

Allentown's radio market is ranked 68th largest in the United States by Arbitron.[64] Stations licensed to Allentown include WAEB-AM (talk, news and sports), WAEB-FM (Top 40 music), WDIY (NPR and public radio), WHOL (tropical music), WLEV (adult contemporary music), WMUH (Muhlenberg College campus radio), WSAN (Fox Sports Radio and Philadelphia Phillies broadcasts), WZZO (hard rock music) and others. In addition, many New York City and Philadelphia stations can be received in Allentown.


Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 486
1800 573 17.9%
1810 710 23.9%
1820 1,132 59.4%
1830 1,757 55.2%
1840 2,493 41.9%
1850 3,703 48.5%
1860 8,025 116.7%
1870 13,884 73.0%
1880 18,063 30.1%
1890 25,288 40.0%
1900 35,416 40.1%
1910 51,913 46.6%
1920 73,502 41.6%
1930 92,563 25.9%
1940 96,904 4.7%
1950 106,756 10.2%
1960 108,347 1.5%
1970 109,871 1.4%
1980 103,758 −5.6%
1990 105,301 1.5%
2000 106,632 1.3%
2010 118,032 10.7%
Est. 2013 118,577 0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[65]
2013 Estimate[66]

As of the 2010 census, the city was 58.5% White (43.2% non-Hispanic white), 12.5% Black or African American (10.2% non-Hispanic black), 0.8% Native American (non-Hispanic), 2.2% Asian (non-Hispanic), and 5.0% were two or more races. 42.8% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry, mostly made up of Puerto Ricans. 14.6% of the population were foreign-born.[67]

The unemployment rate for the entire Lehigh Valley area is 9.8% as of February 2010, with Allentown's unemployment rate estimated at over 10%.[68]

As of the census of 2000, there were 106,632 people and 25,135 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,011.5 inhabitants per square mile (2,320.8/km²). There were 45,960 housing units at an average density of 2,591.1 per square mile (1,000.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.55% White, 7.85% African American, 0.33% Native American, 2.27% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 13.37% from other races, and 3.55% from two or more races. 24.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino.

Allentown Compared
2010 Census Allentown PA U.S.
Total population 118,032 12,702,379 308,745,538
Population, percent change, 2000–2010 +10.7% +3.4% +9.7%
Population density 6,557.3/sq. mi. 275.8/sq. mi. 81.4/sq. mi.
White (non-Hispanic) 43.2% 79.5% 63.7%
Black (non-Hispanic) 11.6% 10.8% 12.2%
Hispanic (any race) 42.8% 5.7% 16.3%
Asian 2.2% 2.7% 4.8%

There were 42,032 households in the city, of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18, 39.4% had married couples living together, 15.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% had non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The city's average household size is 2.42 and the average family size was 3.09.

The city's population broken down by age ranges was 24.8% under 18, 11.2% from 18–24, 29.8% from 25–44, 19.1% from 45–64, and 15.1% 65 years or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there are 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,016, and the median income for a family was $37,356. Males had a median income of $30,426 versus $23,882 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,282. 18.5% of the population and 14.6% of families were below the poverty line. 29.4% of those under the age of 18 and 10.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Law and government[edit]

Politics and elections[edit]

Allentown
Crime rates (2013)
Crime type Rate*
Homicide: 7
Forcible rape: 26
Robbery: 197
Aggravated assault: 138
Total Violent crime: 369
Burglary: 717
Larceny-theft: 1,493
Motor vehicle theft: 191
Arson: 2
Total Property crime: 2,401
Notes
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.
2012 population: 119,334
Source: 2013 FBI UCR Data

Allentown operates as a Pennsylvania third-class city with the "strong-mayor" version of the mayor-council form of government since 1970 wherein the mayor serves as chief executive and administrative officer for the municipality and City Council serves as the legislative and oversight body providing checks and balances on the system.[69]

Elected "at-large", the mayor serves a four-year term under the city's home rule charter.[70] The current city mayor is Democrat Ed Pawlowski, who replaced Roy C. Afflerbach after his single-term in office from 2002 to 2006. The legislative branch, the Allentown City Council, consists of seven council members elected at large for four-year staggered terms.[70] City Council holds regular public meetings in order to enact legislation in the form of ordinances and resolutions. The current president of the City Council is Julio Guridy.[71] The City Controller, who is responsible for the oversight of the city's finances, is also elected and serves a four-year term.[72]

Federally, Allentown is part of Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district, represented by Republican Charlie Dent, elected in 2004. The state's senior member of the United States Senate is Democrat Bob Casey, Jr.. The state's junior member of the United States Senate is Republican Pat Toomey, elected in 2010. The Governor of Pennsylvania is Republican Tom Corbett.

Allentown was named the 12th most conservative in America by the non-partisan Bay Area Center.[73]

Crime[edit]

For 2010, crime is down in the City of Allentown for the fourth consecutive year.[74]

The decline was led by a 31 percent drop in the number of homicides from 13 to 9. Motor vehicle theft fell 11.4 percent. Burglary was down 6.1 percent. Reported robberies, rapes and property crimes also fell. There were slight increases in the number of aggravated assaults and arsons. The number of violent crimes in the city has fallen more than 30 percent since 2006.[74]

Fire Department[edit]

The city of Allentown is protected 24/7, 365 by the 140 paid, professional firefighters of the city of Allentown Fire Department (AFD). Established in 1870, the Allentown Fire Department is currently organized into 4 divisions of operations: Operations Division, Administration Division, Fire Prevention Division, and Education/Training Division. Each division is commanded by a Deputy Chief or an Assistant Chief. The AFD currently operates out of 6 Fire Stations, located throughout the city, under the command of a Battalion Chief per shift and a Deputy Chief. The Allentown Fire Department also operates a fire apparatus fleet of 7 Engines(including 1 Quint), 2 Trucks, 1 Haz-Mat. Unit, 1 Technical Rescue Unit, 1 Fireboat, 1 Dive Trailer, 1 Bomb Squad Unit, 1 Fire Investigation Unit, and numerous other special, support, and 3 Reserve Engines. Also, under the command of the Operations Division are 4 specilized search and rescue teams: Haz-Mat. Team, Water Rescue, Technical Rescue, and Bomb Squad. The AFD responds to approximately 6,000 emergency calls annually.[75][76][77]

Fire Station Locations and Apparatus[edit]

Engine Company Truck Company Special Unit Command Unit Address
Engine 4, Engine 9 Utility 57 Car 40(Chief of Department), Car 41(Deputy Chief), Car 42(Assistant Chief), Car 43(Battalion Chief), Car 45(Fire Marshal), Car 53(Callback Chief) 723 Chew St.
Engine 6 Truck 2 Ridge St. & Tilghman St.
Engine 10 Truck 1 2145 Turner St.
Engine 11(Quint) Unit 55(Haz-Mat./Mobile Command Unit) Car 48(Assistant Chief-Training) 1901 Lehigh St.
Engine 13 Fireboat 1 720 N. Irving St.
Engine 14 S. 2nd St. & Susquehanna St.

Apparatus Specifications[edit]

Below is a complete list of all AFD apparatus, their manufacturer and specifications, and date.[78]

Engine Companies[edit]

  • Engine 4 - 1999 Pierce Dash 1500gpm./500gal. Pumper Truck
  • Engine 6 - 1994 E-One 1250gpm./500gal. Pumper Truck
  • Engine 5(Reserve) - 1994 E-One 1250gpm./500gal. Pumper Truck (SN5368)
  • Engine 8(Reserve) - 1999 HME/Ferrara Pumper 1250gp./500gal. Pumper Truck (SN5386)
  • Engine 9 - 2008 KME Predator Severe Service 1500gpm./500gal. Rescue Pumper Truck
  • Engine 10 - 2000 Pierce Dash 1500gpm./500gal. Pumper Truck
  • Engine 11 - 2002 Pierce Dash 1500gpm./500gal./20gal. Class A Foam/20gal. Class B Foam/75' Rear-Mount Aerial Ladder Quint
  • Engine 12(Reserve) - 1992 E-One 1250gpm./500gal. Pumper Truck (SN5382)
  • Engine 13 - 2009 KME Predator Severe Service 1500gpm./750gal./25gal. Foam Pumper Truck
  • Engine 14 - 2009 KME Predator Severe Service 1500gpm./750gal./25gal. Foam Pumper Truck

Truck Companies[edit]

  • Truck 1(Reserve) - 2008 KME Predator 100' Mid-Mount Platform Tower Ladder Truck
  • Truck 2 - 2009 KME Predator 2000gpm./300gal. 100' Mid-Mount Platform Tower Ladder Truck

Command Units[edit]

  • Car 40(Chief of Department) - 2000 Ford Explorer SUV
  • Car 41(Deputy Chief) - 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV (SN5345)
  • Car 42(Deputy Chief) - 2004 Chevrolet Suburban SUV (SN5343)
  • Car 43(Battalion Chief) - 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV (SN5342)
  • Car 45(Fire Marshal) - 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe SUV (SN5341)
  • Car 46(Fire Prevention Assistant Chief) - 2000 Ford Explorer SUV
  • Car 47(Public Affairs Captain) - 1999 Jeep SUV (SN5376)
  • Car 48(Education/Training Assistant Chief) - 2006 Chevrolet 3500 Van
  • Car 53(Callback Battalion Chief's Unit) - 1999 GMC 2500 SUV (SN5339)

Education[edit]

Public schools[edit]

William Allen High School, one of two public high schools in Allentown

The City of Allentown is served by the Allentown School District, which is the fourth largest school district in Pennsylvania, with 18,118 students (based on 2005–2006 enrollment data).[79] In 2013, the district's enrollment had declined to 16,966 pupils.[80] In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying seventeen Allentown School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in 2011 and 2012. Eleven of the District's elementary schools, all four middle schools and both high schools are all among the 15% lowest achieving schools in the Commonwealth.[81]

The city maintains two public high schools for grades 9–12, William Allen High School, which serves students from the southern and western parts of the city, and Louis E. Dieruff High School, which serves students from the eastern and northern parts. Each of these Allentown area high schools competes athletically in the Lehigh Valley Conference. Both schools play their home football games at J. Birney Crum Stadium. Students may also attend Newcomer Academy at Midway Manor or the Allentown School District Virtual Academy (grades 8-12).

Allentown School District's four middle schools, for grades 6–8, include: Francis D. Raub Middle School, Harrison-Morton Middle School, South Mountain Middle School and Trexler Middle School. The city is served by 16 elementary schools, for kindergarten through fifth grade, including: Central, Cleveland, Hiram W. Dodd, Jefferson, Lehigh Parkway, Lincoln, Luis A. Ramos, McKinley, Midway Manor, Mosser, Muhlenberg, Ritter, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Union Terrace and Washington.

The Allentown School District is currently undertaking a 10 year, $120 million facilities improvement plan. The plan includes renovation of all 23 schools in the district. Most of the schools to be renovated will be expanded. Two additional elementary schools and a fifth middle school are expected to be built.[82]

Public charter schools[edit]

The Roberto Clemente Charter School located at 4th and Walnut Streets in Allentown, is a Title I charter school which provides educational services to mainly Hispanic students in grades 6 through 12.

Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School is located at 1414 E. Cedar Street. The school provides a K-12th program.

Private schools[edit]

Allentown has two parochial high schools, Allentown Central Catholic High School and Lehigh Valley Christian High School, though both schools draw students from both Allentown and the city's suburbs. Other Allentown-based parochial schools (serving grades K-8) include: Saint John Vianney Regional School, Holy Spirit School, Lehigh Christian Academy, Mercy Special Learning Center, Our Lady Help of Christians School, Sacred Heart School, and Saint Thomas More School. The Roman Catholic-affiliated parochial schools in Allentown are operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown. The Grace Montessori School is a pre-school and early elementary Montessori school run as an outreach of Grace Episcopal Church. The Swain School, a non-sectarian private school founded in 1929, is also located in Allentown. The city also has a private Jewish school, the Jewish Day School.

Colleges and universities[edit]

Two four-year colleges are located in Allentown: Cedar Crest College and Muhlenberg College. A satellite campus of Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), a comprehensive community college which offers two- and four-year degree programs, continuing education and industry training, is located in Center City Allentown.[83] Pennsylvania State University's Lehigh Valley campus is located in Center Valley, approximately nine miles away from the city.

Infrastructure[edit]

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABEICAO: KABE), 2005

Transportation[edit]

Airports[edit]

The city's primary airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABEICAO: KABE), is located three miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown in Hanover Township. Newark (New Jersey) International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport, which are within an hour to an hour-and-a-half driving distance of Allentown, provide additional flight services to Lehigh Valley residents. The region is also served by Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport (ICAO: KXLLFAA LID: XLL), a two-runway general aviation facility located in South Allentown used predominantly by private aviation.

Roads[edit]

Four expressways run through the Allentown area, with associated exits to the city: Interstate 78, which runs from Harrisburg in the west to New York City's Holland Tunnel in the east; the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, (which is part of I-476), runs from Plymouth Meeting outside Philadelphia in the south to Interstate 81 at Clarks Summit in the north; Pennsylvania Route 309, which runs from Philadelphia in the south to The Poconos in the north; and U.S. Route 22, which runs from Cincinnati, Ohio in the west to Newark, New Jersey in the east. Public parking within Allentown is managed by the Allentown Parking Authority.

There are nine major inbound roads to Allentown: Airport Road, Cedar Crest Boulevard, Fullerton Avenue, Hamilton Boulevard, Lehigh Street, Mauch Chunk Road, Pennsylvania Route 145 (MacArthur Road), Tilghman Street, and Union Boulevard.

Buses[edit]

Public transportation within Allentown is provided by LANTA, a public bus system serving Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Several private bus lines, including Bieber Tourways, Susquehanna Trailways and Trans-Bridge Lines, provide bus service from Allentown to New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal, Philadelphia's Greyhound Terminal, Atlantic City's Bus Terminal, and other regional locations.

Rail[edit]

Allentown was a passenger train hub, served by Central Railroad of New Jersey, Lehigh and New England Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad the Reading Company, and later, Conrail, a conglomerate formed from many troubled northeastern railroads. Routes served Wilkes-Barre and Scranton to the north, Buffalo and Williamsport to the northwest, Reading and Harrisburg to the west, Jersey City and New York City to the east, and Philadelphia to the south.[84] While Allentown currently has no passenger rail service (the last public rail service, which was part of the Bethlehem-Philadelphia service provided by Conrail under contract with SEPTA, ceased operating in 1979), several of the Allentown-area stations once used for passenger service have been preserved through their current commercial use.

In November 2008, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), along with both Lehigh and Northampton Counties, commissioned a study to explore the merits of extending the New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line to the Lehigh Valley, which would potentially include stops in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.[85] This would restore part of the service of the Lehigh Valley Railroad's through train, the Black Diamond, from Buffalo to New York City, which ran to 1961.[86][87]

Allentown is a regional center for commercial freight rail traffic. Currently, Norfolk Southern's primary hump classification yards are located in Allentown,[88] and the city is also served by the R.J. Corman Railroad Group.[89]


Telecommunications[edit]

Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, 2008

Allentown and the Lehigh Valley area were once served only by the 215 area code from 1947 (when the North American Numbering Plan of the Bell System went into effect) until 1994. With the city and region's growing population, however, Allentown and its surrounding areas were afforded area code 610 in 1994. Today, the city of Allentown is covered by 610. An overlay area code, 484, was added to the 610 service area in 1999.[90] A plan to introduce area code 835 as an additional overlay was rescinded in 2001.[91]

Health systems[edit]

Allentown is home to several hospitals and health networks, including St. Luke's Health Network, Sacred Heart Hospital, the Lehigh Valley Health Network, and the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. Formerly, the city was home to the Allentown State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital which closed in 2010.

Utilities[edit]

Electricity in Allentown is provided by PPL, also known as PP&L. UGI provides natural gas for homes. Two cable systems, RCN Corporation (originally Twin County Cable) and Service Electric Cable TV, Inc., have served the city since the 1960s.[92] The area's only landfill, IESI Bethlehem, is located in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Water, sewer, waste, recycling, and yard waste are controlled by the city.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom's Steel Force and Thunderhawk roller coasters, just outside Allentown. Steel Force opened in 1997 as the tallest and fastest roller coaster on the East Coast of the United States, with a first drop of 205 feet (62 m) and a top speed of 75 miles per hour (121 km/h).[93]

City parks[edit]

The City of Allentown has one of the best park systems in the country. Much of the city's park system can be attributed to the efforts of industrialist Harry Clay Trexler. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement in the early 20th century, Trexler helped create West Park, a 6.59-acre (26,700 m2) park in what was then a community trash pit and sandlot baseball field[94] in an upscale area of the city. The park, which opened in 1909, features a bandshell, designed by noted Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer, which has long been home to the Allentown Band and other community bands.[94] Trexler also facilitated the development of Trexler Park, Cedar Parkway, Allentown Municipal Golf Course and the Trout Nursery in Lehigh Parkway. Trexler was also responsible for the development of the Trexler Trust, which to this day continues to provide private funding for the maintenance and development of Allentown's park system.[95]

City parks in Allentown include Bicentennial Park (4,600 seat mini-stadium built for sporting events), Cedar Creek Parkway (127 acres, including Lake Muhlenberg, Cedar Beach and the Malcolm W. Gross Memorial Rose Garden), East Side Reservoir (15 acres), Kimmets Lock Park (5 acres), Lehigh Canal Park (55 acres), Lehigh Parkway (999 acres), Old Allentown Cemetery (4 acres), Jordan Park, South Mountain Reservoir (157 acres), Trexler Memorial Park (134 acres), Trout Creek Parkway (100 acres), Joe Daddona Park (19 acres) and West Park (6.59 acres).[95]

Festivals[edit]

Mayfair Festival of the Arts, an arts and crafts festival established in 1986, is held each May at Cedar Beach Park.[96] The Great Allentown Fair runs annually, in early September, on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds, where it has been held since 1889. The first Allentown Fair was held in 1852, and between 1852 and 1899 it was held at the "Old Allentown Fairgrounds," which was located north of Liberty Street between 5th and 6th streets. The J. Birney Crum Stadium plays host to the Collegiate Marching Band Festival, held annually since 1995, as well as other marching band festivals and competitions.

Stadiums[edit]

The city has two large capacity outdoor stadiums. Coca-Cola Park, with an overall capacity of 10,000,[97] was constructed in 2007 and is the home field for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA-level minor league team affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball. J. Birney Crum Stadium, used for Lehigh Valley Conference football and other purposes, has a seating capacity in excess of 15,000. An indoor arena, PPL Center, is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

Other recreational sites[edit]

Other recreational sites in Allentown include Allentown Municipal Golf Course, Cedar Beach Pool, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Fountain Pool, Irving Pool, Jordan Pool and Mack Pool.

Notable people[edit]

Allentown is the birthplace of, or home to, several notable Americans, including:

In popular culture[edit]

Allentown's reputation as a rugged blue collar city has led to many references to the city in popular culture:

Landmarks and popular locations[edit]

Postcard (dated 1916) depicting Allentown's Eighth Street Bridge
  • 19th Street Theatre (opened 1928), 527 N. 19th St. Home of Civic Theatre of Allentown, which stages plays and hosts fine arts film series.[100]
  • Albertus L. Meyers Bridge (built 1913), 8th & Union Sts. Also known as the Eighth Street Bridge, once the longest and highest concrete bridge in the world.[101]
  • Allentown Art Museum (built 1934), 31 N. 5th St. Collection of over 13,000 works of art, along with an associated library.
  • Allentown Cemetery Park (established 1765), 10th & Linden Sts. Burial site of the city's earliest residents, including American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans.[101]
  • Allentown Fairgrounds (established 1889), 400 N. 17th St. Home of the Allentown Fair (started 1852), Allentown Farmers Market, Agri-Plex exhibit hall and The Ritz restaurant.[102]
  • Allentown Post Office (built 1933–34), 5th & Hamilton Sts. Classical Moderne-style building with Art Deco ornamentation. Interior murals of local historical scenes by New York artist Gifford Reynolds Beal.[103]
  • Allentown Symphony Hall (built 1896), 23 N. 6th St. Owned by the Allentown Symphony Association, a 1200-seat performing arts facility that is home to the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, as well as Pennsylvania Sinfonia, Community Concerts of Allentown, Allentown Band and Community Music School of the Lehigh Valley.[104]
  • Bogert's Covered Bridge (built 1841), S. 24th St. & Fish Hatchery Rd. One of the region's oldest covered bridges, a 145-foot (44 m) span over the Little Lehigh Creek in Allentown's Lehigh Parkway.[105]
    Bogert's Bridge East Side over Allentown's Little Lehigh Creek
  • Frank Buchman House, 117 N. 11th St. Home of Frank N. D. Buchman (1878–1961), founder of the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament religious movements.
  • Butz-Groff House (built 1872), 111 N. 4th St. Dark stone Victorian home in what was once the center of Allentown's most fashionable residential district. Built by attorney Samuel A. Butz and later owned by his grandson, Joseph C. Groff.[101]
  • Cedar Crest College (founded 1867), 100 College Dr. Liberal arts college with an 84-acre (340,000 m2) campus on the city's western edge.[106]
  • Centre Square and Soldiers & Sailors Monument (built 1899), 7th & Hamilton Sts.[107] Monument honoring American Civil War veterans from the 47th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
  • William F. Curtis Arboretum (started 1915), 100 College Dr. Located at Cedar Crest College, a collection of 140 species of trees registered with the American Public Gardens Association.[108]
  • Earl F. Hunsicker Bicentennial Park (built 1939, renovated 1976), Lehigh & S. Howard Sts. Originally Fairview Field, home to the city's Minor League Baseball teams, 1939–47. As Bicentennial Park, hosted the Allentown Ambassadors, 1997–2003.[109]
  • Hess's Department Store (closed 1996 and demolished in 2000).
  • Homeopathic Healing Art Plaque, 31 S. Penn St. Marks the location of the world's first medical college exclusively devoted to the practice of homeopathic medicine. Established in 1835, the college went bankrupt in 1845 and relocated to Philadelphia, where it developed into what is today Hahnemann University Hospital.
  • J. Birney Crum Stadium (built 1948), 22nd & Turner Sts. Home football field of Allentown's three high schools, a 15,000-capacity stadium once the largest in Pennsylvania.
  • Muhlenberg College (founded 1848), 2400 Chew St. Liberal arts college located on an 81-acre (330,000 m2) campus in Allentown's West End.[110]
  • Old Allentown Cemetery (established 1846), N. Fountain & Linden Sts. City's second oldest cemetery, located next to Allentown Cemetery Park. Burial site of Tilghman Good (1830–87), two-term mayor and commander of the 47th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers during the American Civil War.[101]
  • Old Zion Reformed Church and Liberty Bell Shrine Museum, 622 Hamilton St. Located on Hamilton Street in center city Allentown, the temporary hiding place of the Liberty Bell in 1777–78 during the Revolutionary War.[111]
  • Portland Place (built 1902), 718 Hamilton St. Former headquarters of Lehigh Portland Cement Company, remodeled in the art deco style in 1939–40. Over the front door was a glass relief by artist Oronzio Maldarelli, the largest glass mural panel in the world at the time. When the company (now Lehigh Cement Company) relocated, the sculpture was installed in the building's new lobby.[101]
  • PPL Building (built 1928), 9th & Hamilton Sts. Allentown's tallest building (23 stories), headquarters to PPL Corporation.[112] In 2008, PPL created a Peregrin Falcon nesting platform outside its 23rd floor.
  • Revolutionary War Plaque (erected 1926), 8th & Hamilton Sts. On the side of the Farr Building, marks the site of a hospital for Revolutionary War soldiers in 1777–78.[101]
  • Sterling Hotel (1890), 343–45 Hamilton St. Three-story, Romanesque Revival brick hotel.[113] Now a popular bar and music venue. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, 1984.[114]
  • Trout Hall (built 1770), 414 Walnut St. Oldest house in Allentown, built by James Allen, son of William Allen, the city's founder.[13]
  • Yocco's Hot Dogs (opened 1922). Regionally-popular restaurant chain with six Lehigh Valley locations, including three in Allentown.

Museums and cultural organizations[edit]

Sister cities and twin cities[edit]

Allentown has three official sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International[citation needed]:

Allentown also has two designated "twin cities":

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Official records for Allentown were kept at Allentown Gas Company from March 1922 to December 1943, and at Lehigh Valley Int'l since January 1944. For more information, see ThreadEx.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Wholberg, Julie. "The New Main Street? A-Town's 19th Street Experience". The Morning Call. 
  3. ^ Salter, Rosa (April 20, 2003). "Two in tune with the times ** At 175, Allentown Band, America's oldest, preserves best of tradition.". The Morning Call. pp. E.01. . "1967: Allentown named Band City-U.S.A"
  4. ^ Whelan, Frank (March 13, 2002). "Hamilton Street used to be thick with peanut shells ** And Allentown's Army Camp Crane once had a popular commander.". The Morning Call. pp. B.04. . "Allentown's title as the Peanut City goes back to the late 19th and early 20th century when large amounts of them were eaten in the Lehigh Valley. From the 1880s to the 1920s, vendors lined Hamilton Street, singing jingles in Pennsylvania Dutch about the superior quality of their peanuts. Former Call-Chronicle Sunday editor John Y. Kohl recalled in 1967 that the peanuts were eaten mostly by young men and boys who would walk Hamilton Street on Saturday nights flirting with girls and 'throwing the shells about with complete abandon.' Sunday morning sidewalks were 'not quite ankle deep' in shells. Merchants would get up early to sweep them into the gutter so churchgoers would not have to wade through them.'"
  5. ^ Whelan, Frank (May 7, 1991). "Cement City' Moniker Is A Mystery American Heritage Says Label Was Allentown's.". The Morning Call. pp. B.03. . "Silk City for example, is a throwback to the late 19th and early 20th century, when Allentown was known for its many silk mills. Although the last mill closed a few years ago, the name hangs on in the minds of older residents."
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External links[edit]