|Home Rule Municipality|
|City of Allentown|
|Nickname(s): "The A" "The Queen City", "A-Town", "Band City USA", "Peanut City", "Silk City".|
|Motto: "Sic Semper Tyrannis"|
Location in Lehigh County
|Incorporated||March 12, 1867|
|Founded by||William Allen|
|Named for||William Allen|
|• Mayor||Ed Pawlowski (D)|
|• City Attorney||Jerry Snyder|
|• City Controller||Mary Ellen Koval|
|• City Council|
|• Senate||Pat Browne (R)|
|• 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)|
|• Home Rule Municipality||119,104 (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)|
|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|
|GNIS feature ID||1202899|
|Primary Airport||Lehigh Valley International Airport- ABE (Major/International)|
|Secondary Airport||Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport- XLL (Minor)|
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. It is the largest city in the metropolitan area known as the Lehigh Valley, which had a population of 821,623 residents as of 2010. It constitutes a portion of the New York City Metropolitan Area and is the county seat of Lehigh County. In 2012, the city celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding in 1762.
Located on the Lehigh River, Allentown is the largest of three adjacent cities, in Northampton and Lehigh counties, that make up a region of eastern Pennsylvania known as the Lehigh Valley. Allentown is 50 miles (80 km) north-northwest of Philadelphia, the fifth most populous 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Infrastructure
- 7 Government and public safety
- 8 Education
- 9 Media
- 10 Culture
- 11 Notable people
- 12 In popular culture
- 13 Sister cities and twin cities
- 14 Notes
- 15 References
- 16 External links
In the early 1700s, the land now occupied by the City of Allentown and Lehigh County was a wilderness of scrub oak where neighboring tribes of Indians fished for trout and hunted for deer, grouse, and other game. In 1736, a large area to the north of Philadelphia, embracing the present site of Allentown and what is now Lehigh County, was deeded by 23 chiefs of the five great Indian nations to John, Thomas, and Richard Penn, sons of William Penn. The price for this tract included shoes and buckles, hats, shirts, knives, scissors, combs, needles, looking glasses, rum, and pipes.
The land that was to become Allentown 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.
The land was originally surveyed on November 23, 1736. 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.
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. It is likely that a certain amount of rivalry with the Penns prompted Judge Allen to decide to start a town of his own in 1762.
Ten years before, in 1752, Northampton and Berks counties had been formed, each with a county seat, Easton and Reading, respectively. It is recorded that, in 1763, the very year after the founding of Allentown, an effort was made to have the county seat moved from Easton to the new town. To this effort William Allen lent all his influence as Chief Justice and also as the son-in-law of Andrew Hamilton. The influence of the Penns, however, prevailed; and Easton was retained as the county seat of all that vast area which the notorious "Walking Purchase" had opened up.
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.
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.
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.
Liberty Bell and the American Revolutionary War
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 by John Snyder and Heinrich Bartholomew, two local residents assigned to the task by the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council, 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. "Ordered; Mr Lowden and Mr. Hoge be appointed to have money and papers belonging to the public loan office be moved to Easton in the County of Northampton, and John Snyder, Heinrich Bartholomew was employed with a wagon and convey it to said place."
Two wagon masters played an important role on this historic (Liberty Bell) trip from Philadelphia to Bethlehem. John Snyder and Henry Bartholomew were employed by the Supreme Executive Council, on this same day of the Liberty Bell's journey, to convey money and papers of value from Philadelphia to Easton for protection. It is recorded these two farmers of high esteem with horses and wagon of great value were entrusted with "papers in case, a barrel and a large iron chest". They made more than this one trip. On one journey from Pittston, New Jersey, these two men carried ammunition and books to store in safety in Easton. The only highway to this city came by way of Germantown through Bethlehem and then east to Easton."
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.
19th century and Industrial Revolution
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. 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), the Neuweiler Brewery (founded 1875, closed 1968) and Schaefer Beer, whose brewery was later owned by Pabst Brewing Company and Guinness but is now owned by the Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams.
20th century to present
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.
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.
Cityscape and neighborhoods
Center City, which includes the downtown area and the 7th Street retail and residential corridor, is the city's central business district and the site of various city, county and federal government centers. To the east of Center City are "The Wards," residential areas that developed 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. The West End of Allentown, with its mix of commercial corridors, cultural centers, and larger single-family residences, begins approximately west of 15th Street.
The Center City's tallest building is the PPL Building at 322 ft (98 m). The Allentown Art Museum, Allentown Symphony Hall, the former site of Hess's Department Stores' original and flagship store, Baum School of Art, Lehigh County Historical Society and Heritage Museum, and The Liberty Bell Museum are all known landmarks in Center City. The Central Business District has several office buildings (One City Center, the Dime Savings and Trust Company building, Two City Center, and several others are planned), a 8,641-seat indoor arena (the PPL Center) which opened in August 2014, cost $177.1 million to build, the Americus Hotel and a Marriott Hotel which is scheduled to open in January 2015,
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. 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 or have already been erected: The project has generated some concern centered on the huge cost of the endeavor from funding the plan. The estimated cost of the project is currently $277 million. As of October 2012, $224.3 million in bonds have been sold.
Existing structures were demolished in early 2012. Several lawsuits filed against the project were settled in mid-2012, and construction by 2015 was largely complete for the first phase.
The City of Allentown is characterized by a large stock of historic homes, commercial structures and century-old industrial buildings.
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-style. 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 but there are also some older Victorian homes. 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 across the Lehigh Valley and in clear weather, the tower can be seen from as far north as the Blue Mountain Ski Area. One of the city's older surviving structures, Allentown Symphony Hall, at 23 North Sixth Street, dates from 1896 and originally housed the city's public market.
There are three historic districts in Allentown: Old Allentown, the Old Fairgrounds and the West Park neighborhoods. Old Allentown and Old Fairgrounds are Center City neighborhoods that hold a joint house tour organized by the 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.
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 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. 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.
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), Irving Street Park, 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).
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.
Snowfall is variable, with some winters bringing light snow and others bringing numerous significant snowstorms. Average snowfall is 34 inches (86 cm) seasonally, 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, at an average annual rate of 43.52 inches (110.54 cm).
|Climate data for Allentown, Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley Int'l), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1922–present[a]|
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Average high °F (°C)||36.0
|Average low °F (°C)||19.5
|Record low °F (°C)||−15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.03
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||10.0
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||11.1||9.8||11.0||12.1||12.1||11.4||10.9||9.5||9.1||9.1||9.8||10.9||126.8|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.6||4.8||2.5||.4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.6||3.5||17.4|
|Avg. relative humidity (%)||69.1||66.7||62.6||60.9||65.6||67.9||68.8||71.9||74.0||71.8||70.5||71.4||68.4|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1961–1990)|
|U.S. Decennial Census
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.
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.
|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.|
|Hispanic (any race)||42.8%||5.7%||16.3%|
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. 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%.
Allentown's economy has historically been manufacturing-based, but with a more recent turn to a more service oriented economy due to general rust belt decline in heavy industry. The city serves as the location of corporate headquarters for several large, global companies, including Air Products & Chemicals, PPL, and others. The largest employer in Allentown is Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, with more than 7,800 employees.
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. It was expected that the move would result in the loss of approximately 600 jobs.
The Center City area along Hamilton Street between 5th and 10th Streets was the primary shopping district in Allentown until the mid-1970s. In the 1960s and 1970s several shopping malls were built in and around Allentown (South Mall and Lehigh Valley Mall, and Whitehall Mall). In 2006, The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, opened just south of the city, in Upper Saucon Township. 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. Businesses generally operate from 9am to 5pm Monday-Saturday, staying open until 9pm on Thursdays and starting in the mid-1960s, also on Monday nights.
Roads and buses
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.
Public buses within Allentown are provided by LANTA, a public bus system serving Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Several private bus lines serve Allentown. These include Bieber Tourways which offers direct service to Philadelphia, Reading and intermediate points, Trans-Bridge Lines which offers direct service to New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal and intermediate points, and Susquehanna Trailways which offers direct service to Hazelton, Philadelphia and intermediate points.
Allentown was once a passenger rail hub, served by the Central Railroad of New Jersey, Lehigh and New England Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, the Reading Railroad, the Lehigh Valley Transit Company and later, Conrail. 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.
Allentown currently has no passenger rail service (the last service by SEPTA ceased operating in 1979) but one of its two main train stations remains standing. In November 2008, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), along with both Lehigh and Northampton Counties, commissioned a study to explore restoring part of the Black Diamond service (which ran until 1961) by extending the New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line to Allentown.
Allentown is a regional center for commercial freight rail traffic. Currently, Norfolk Southern's primary hump classification yards are located in Allentown, and the city is also served by the R.J. Corman Railroad Group.
The city's primary airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport, is located three miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown in Hanover Township and is operated by the Lehigh–Northampton Airport Authority. The airport has direct flights to Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago–O'Hare, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and cities in Florida. Philadelphia International Airport and Newark International Airport, are about 60 to 90 minutes away, respectively, and offer numerous domestic and international flights. The region is also served by Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport, a two-runway facility located in South Allentown used predominantly for private aviation.
Electricity in Allentown is provided by Pennsylvania Power and Light (PP&L). UGI supplies natural gas. Two cable companies, RCN Corporation (originally Twin County Cable) and Service Electric, have served the city since the 1960s. The area's only landfill, IESI Bethlehem, is located in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Water and sewage, prior to 2013, were controlled by the city and are now under the operation of Lehigh County authority as the result of a 50-year lease agreement. Waste, recycling, and yard waste are administered by the city.
Government and public safety
Politics and elections
|Crime rates (2013)|
|Total Violent crime:||369|
|Motor vehicle theft:||191|
|Total Property crime:||2,401|
* 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.
Elected "at-large", the mayor serves a four-year term under the city's home rule charter. 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. 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. The City Controller, who is responsible for the oversight of the city's finances, is also elected and serves a four-year term.
Federally, Allentown is part of Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district, represented by Republican Charlie Dent since in 2004. The United States Senators are Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. and Republican Pat Toomey, elected in 2010. The Governor of Pennsylvania is Democrat Tom Wolf.
For 2010, crime is down in the City of Allentown for the fourth consecutive year.
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.
Emergency medical services
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.
|Allentown Fire Department (AFD)|
|Facilities and equipment|
The Allentown Fire Department (AFD) was established in 1870 and today operates out of 6 fire stations, located throughout the city. 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 (including 4 specialized search and rescue teams: Haz-Mat. Team, Water Rescue, Technical Rescue, and Bomb Squad), support, and 3 Reserve Engines.
Primary and secondary education
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). In 2013, the district's enrollment had declined to 16,966 pupils. 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.
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.
Allentown has two public charter schools: 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 and the Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School provides a K-12th program and is located at 1414 E. Cedar Street.
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 and offers a preschool – 8th grade education. Swain School graduates often continue high school in local Lehigh Valley private and public high schools. The city also has a private Jewish school, the Jewish Day School.
Colleges and universities
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. Pennsylvania State University's Lehigh Valley campus is located in Center Valley, approximately nine miles away from the city.
Allentown's media includes print, web, radio and television outlets. Allentown has two daily newspapers, The Morning Call and The Express-Times and numerous weekly and monthly print publications. Allentown has the 68th largest radio market in the United States by Arbitron. 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.
Allentown is part of the Philadelphia's television Media market. The major Philadelphia-based network stations serving Allentown include: KYW (CBS-Philadelphia), WCAU (NBC-Philadelphia), WPVI (ABC-Philadelphia) and WTXF (Fox-Philadelphia). There are also other network stations and three local television stations.
Arts and entertainment
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. 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.
Landmarks and popular locations
The city of Allentown, Pennsylvania was established in 1762 and is one of the oldest major cities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States. It has deep roots in the history of the nation, being the hiding place of the Liberty Bell during the American Revolution, and its oldest city cemetery has graves of soldiers who served in the Continental Army. Over its 250-year history of the city numerous buildings, bridges, parks and other locations in the city have come and gone, but many remain, with no less than thirteen of them being on the National Register of Historic Places.
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.
Professional baseball history in Allentown dates back to 1884. Today the city hosts the Philadelphia Phillies' AAA-level Minor League baseball team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. In 2008, Allentown unveiled Coca-Cola Park, a $50.25 million, 8,100-seat stadium on the east-side of Allentown.
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.
The city is home to the Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center, which has been the training ground for numerous Olympians and U.S. national gymnastics champions. In 2003, CNN aired a documentary on Parkettes, Achieving the Perfect 10, which depicted it as a hugely demanding and competitive gymnastics training center.
In March 2011, plans were announced for the creation of PPL Center, an 8,500-seat Ice hockey 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 was chosen in 2012. In January 2012, buildings on the current site began to be demolished to make room for the new arena. The arena is expected to be completed in 2014 and will be the home for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Allentown has been home to two professional soccer teams. The Pennsylvania Stoners (1979–1983) (2007–2009) and the Northampton Laurels FC, of the Women's Premier Soccer League (defunct). The only professional soccer team remaining in the Lehigh Valley is the FC Sonic Lehigh Valley, based in nearby Bethlehem.
Museums and cultural organizations
Mayfair Festival of the Arts, an arts and crafts festival established in 1986, is held each May at Cedar Beach Park. 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.
Allentown is the birthplace of, or home to, several notable Americans, including:
- Thom Browne, fashion designer
- Frank N. D. Buchman, founder of the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament religious movements
- Howard J. Buss, composer and music publisher
- Jalen Cannon, college basketball player, St. Francis College and Northeast Conference player of the year in 2014-15.
- Leon Carr, Broadway composer and television advertising songwriter
- Michaela Conlin, actress, Fox's Bones
- Dane DeHaan, actor, HBO's In Treatment and Chronicle
- Devon, porn star
- Gloria Ehret, professional golfer, winner of the 1966 LPGA Championship
- Victoria Fuller, sculptor
- Peter Gruner, professional wrestler known as Billy Kidman
- Scott Haltzman, psychiatrist, relationship counselor, and author (Secrets of Happily Married Men)
- Tim Heidecker, star of Adult Swim show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
- Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Corporation
- Keith Jarrett, jazz musician
- Michael Johns, health care executive and former White House speechwriter
- Sarah Knauss, supercentenarian, longest-lived American ever, 2nd oldest person verified to have ever lived
- Brian Knobbs, former professional wrestler
- Varvara Lepchenko, professional tennis player
- William Marchant, playwright and screenwriter
- Ed McCaffrey, former professional football player, Denver Broncos, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers
- Lara Jill Miller, voice actress, Cartoon Network's The Life and Times of Juniper Lee
- Marty Ravellette, armless graduate of Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network who saved elderly woman from burning car
- Andre Reed, former professional football player, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins
- Matthew Riddle, professional UFC mixed martial fighter
- Jerry Sags, former professional wrestler
- Amanda Seyfried, model and actress, The CW's Veronica Mars, HBO's Big Love and the films Mamma Mia!, Dear John, Jennifer's Body and Les Misérables
- Andrea Tantaros, political analyst and commentator
- Christine Taylor, actress and wife of actor Ben Stiller
- Mildred Ladner Thompson, former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Tulsa World
- Boris Vallejo, Peruvian-born artist
- Donald Voorhees, Emmy-nominated orchestral conductor
- Lauren Weisberger, author, The Devil Wears Prada
- Joe Wolf, former professional football player, Arizona Cardinals
In popular culture
|This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (October 2014)|
Allentown's reputation as a rugged blue collar city has led to many references to the city in popular culture:
- Allentown is mentioned as the hometown of Noelle, a participant on the A & E reality series Sexy Beasts in 2015.
- Allentown is mentioned in the 2011 movie The Hangover Part II when Ed Helms sings a modified cover of Billy Joel's song "Allentown."
- Allentown is mentioned in the song "Fed to Death" by indie rock band Say Anything. It is the opening song on their 2009 album Say Anything.
- Allentown is mentioned in the 2008 movie The Wrestler as a location where Mickey Rourke (playing Randy "The Ram" Robinson) had wrestled leading up to his comeback.
- Allentown is where the Free Armies and the U.S. military first meet in combat in the fictional comic series DMZ Comics, launched in 2005 by DC Comics.
- On August 10, 2003, CNN broadcast Achieving the Perfect 10, a critical documentary about the Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center, located in Allentown.
- The TV production company Medstar Television, which produced the series Medical Detectives from 1996 to 2000, and the series Forensic Files from 2000 on, is headquartered in Allentown. Locations throughout the city have been used as settings for dramatic reenactments of crimes profiled by the shows.
- In Season 4, Episode 14 ("Memento Mori") of the X-Files, broadcast February 9, 1997, Mulder and Scully travel to Allentown to find women who might know how to cure Scully's cancer.
- In Season 3, Episode 9 ("Nisei") of the X-Files, broadcast November 24, 1995, Agents Mulder and Scully travel to Allentown to track down the distributor of an alien autopsy tape, but they find him murdered.
- The 1990 dark comedy film, I Love You to Death, directed by Lawrence Kasdan, is based on an attempted murder that happened in 1984 in Allentown.
- Allentown's Dorney Park was a film location for John Waters' Hairspray, released in 1988.
- The city is the subject of the popular Billy Joel song, "Allentown", originally released on The Nylon Curtain album in 1982. Joel's song uses Allentown as a metaphor for the resilience of working class Americans in distressed industrial cities during the recession of the early 1980s.
- Allentown is the hometown of up and coming showgirl Peggy Sawyer in the long-running, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical 42nd Street, released in 1980, and its associated Academy Award-nominated movie. When Sawyer expresses her desire to leave Broadway to return to Allentown, the show's director and entire cast successfully dissuade her by singing the famed musical number "The Lullaby of Broadway."
- Allentown is mentioned twice in the 1970 Frank Sinatra song "The Train," which appears as the first song on his album Watertown.
- Allentown was the film location for much of James Neilson's film Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, released in 1969.
- Allentown is mentioned in the ABC Family Show Pretty Little Liars
- Hiding The Bell, a 1968 historical fiction novel by Ruth Nulton Moore, chronicles the events surrounding the hiding of the Liberty Bell in Allentown in 1777.
- Allentown was the subject of the 1963 Irving Gordon song "Allentown Jail", which was subsequently recorded by several other artists, including The Kingston Trio, The Lettermen, The Seekers and Jo Stafford.
- In the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie, character Rosie Alvarez is from Allentown. In the song "Spanish Rose," she sings: "I'm just a Spanish Tamale according to Mae/ Right off the boat from the tropics, far, far away/ Which is kinda funny, since where I come from is Allentown, PA."
- Allentown is mentioned in the 1957 book, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac.
- Allentown was the home town of the fictional Detective Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) in the television program Barney Miller (1975–1982).
Sister cities and twin cities
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2014)|
- Ma'alot-Tarshiha, Israel
- Vinci, Tuscany, Italy
- Lelów, Poland
Allentown also has two designated "twin cities":
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States
- Easton, Pennsylvania, United States
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