America on Wheels
5 North Front Street|
Allentown, Pennsylvania 18102
The 43,000 square feet (4,000 m2) museum offers over 23,000 square feet (2,100 m2) of exhibit space divided into three main galleries and several smaller exhibits. The museum houses rotating exhibits on the second floor. Also on the second floor is the HubCap Cafe, and a vehicle art gallery featuring artists such as Bill Bravo.
The museum's collection features over 75 bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and trucks in exhibits telling the story of people and products on the move from the days of the carriage to the vehicles of tomorrow.
The museum also houses the archives of Mack Trucks.
As early as 1989, Allentown city officials had announced plans to revitalize an old industrial area, which included the abandoned Arbogast & Bastian meat packing plant, along the Lehigh River. This redevelopment, which was to be known as "Lehigh Landing," was to include a museum, a brewery, walking trails, a footbridge across the river, and a promenade for festivals. Development was hindered by fundraising problems, environmental remediation issues, and even a national debate on pork barrel government spending. After three separate groundbreakings (2001, 2004 and 2005), the museum, which cost over $17 million to build, was officially opened to the public on April 12, 2008.
Collection & exhibits
1889 Nadig Gas-Powered Carriage
A historically important part of the museum's collection is the 1889 Nadig Gas-Powered Carriage, one of the first gas-powered vehicles driven in America. Henry Nadig, a German-born mechanic living in Allentown, built his gas-powered carriage in 1889, two years before Charles E. Duryea's first gas-powered automobile. Police forced him to drive the carriage at night, because during the day it scared horses. The vehicle was discovered rusting in a collapsed shed in Allentown, and restored.
The collection of the America on Wheels is minimal as the majority of the vehicles on display are on loan. The West Gallery changes every six months based on a new theme. A number of the vehicles are on loan from the Mack Truck Museum of Allentown PA.
- Callaway, Brian (April 6, 2008), "Ready to Roll ** Allentown's new $17 million homage to vehicles is set to open Saturday after nearly two decades of setbacks.", The Morning Call, pp. A.1
- "The HubCap Cafe". Lehigh Valley Live. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- "Bill Bravo's Automotive Portraits at the America on Wheels Museum". Morning Call. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Gehman, Geoff (April 12, 2008), "America on Wheels rolls in ** From Macks to muscle cars, here are the museum's coolest wheels.", The Morning Call, pp. D.2
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