The city of Allentown, Pennsylvania is nationally-known for its park system. Much of Allentowns's park system can be attributed to the efforts of industrialist General Harry Clay Trexler (1854-1933). Inspired by the City Beautiful movement in 1906, Trexler brought in B. A. Hamilton, a nationally known city park consultant. Haldeman provided the plans for the development of the growing city, and J. Franklin Meehan of Philadelphia was the landscape architect who laid out the parks.
Allen Park, in the vicinity of Trout Hall, was the first city park in Allentown, although it did not become city property until 1908. West Park, a 6.59-acre (26,700 m2) park in what was a community trash pit and sandlot baseball field became the first public park established in an upscale area of the city. In 1906 General Trexler hired Meehan to lay out a park on the land, which opened in 1909. West Park features a bandshell, designed by noted Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer, which has long been home to the Allentown Band and other community bands.
Soon afterwards, it became apparent that a need existed for recreational facilities for children and young people. Meetings of the Allentown City Council were held about this and several proposals were presented and discussed. In 1912, the city's first public playground was established at Fountain Park. During the summer vacation months, all Allentown School District school grounds are open as neighborhood playgrounds.
Trexler also facilitated the development of Cedar Creek Park, the Allentown Municipal Golf Course and the Trout Nursery in Lehigh Parkway. After his death in 1933, Trexler's summer estate, a 142 acre tract was willed to the City of Allentown and was renamed Trexler Memorial Park. Today, the Harry C. Trexler Trust continues to provide private funding for the maintenance and development of Allentown's park system.
The following is a list of city parks and recreation facilities located in Allentown:
Large park over 90 Acres, from Lake Muhlenburg west to Cedar Crest Boulevard. Developed in the late 1920s by Mayor Malcom Gross, Sr.. Includes tennis courts, children's play area, Cedar Beach public swimming pool, Allentown Rose Garden and large areas for picnics and recreation activities.
Formerly Union Terrace Park. Large, 21 Acre park built by WPA over a former mosquito wetland. Park features WPA built grass and stone outdoor amphitheater. Includes Union Terrace Lake, baseball diamonds and recreation fields, also areas for picnicking and recreation.
Largest park in Allentown, 629 acres. Land acquired in 1929, developed by Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s, providing jobs during the Great Depression years. It is the most prominent park of the city and follows the Little Lehigh Stream for three miles. The park features many scenic exercising trails in addition to bridle paths, a shooting range, and many fishing locations.
Former summer home of General Harry Trexler. Deeded to City of Allentown after Trexler's death in 1933. Now large park with lake, long biking road, large grassy and wooded areas for picnicking and recreation. Wild game preserve, home of several hundred ducks, geese and swans. Motor vehicles only allowed in parking area by park entrance.