Culture of Allentown, Pennsylvania

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The culture of Allentown dates back to its settlement in the 18th century. Religious groups, such as the Moravians, wanted to escape persecution in Europe and settle in the newly discovered land. Lenape Native Americans occupied the Lehigh Valley area. 19th and 20th century immigrants include Germans, Italians, Asians, and more recently, Hispanics, and African Americans. The city's culture is based on the diverse population that lives there.


Before the first European settlers arrived, the region that would become Philadelphia was inhabited by the Lenape, a Native American people. Mennonites, Amish, Moravians and Pietists moved to the state during the 17th century, because of Pennsylvania's freedom of religion. A century later, in the 19th century, many Catholics moved to the area from Germany and Ireland. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown is the head of all the Catholic churches in Allentown and the surrounding area.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Hispanic and African American groups moved from the South into Northeast cities. In the last 10 years, many of these people have moved from New York City and Philadelphia to Allentown and Reading.


The Allentown Art Museum in Allentown

Fine art[edit]

The Allentown Art Museum is the city's main fine art institution. Also located in Center City, the Baum School of Art offers classes in making art.

Allentown has some public art scattered around the city. A monument honoring war veterans is located in the middle of Hamilton and 7th Streets in Center City. Graffiti once commonplace throughout the city, has been virtually eliminated through an anti-graffiti program administered through the city. In an effort to eliminate graffiti, the city has painted murals in some of its city parks and high graffiti locations, given out rewards for turning in people who deface buildings with graffiti and arrested graffiti artists.


The Allentown Symphony Orchestra performs at the Allentown Symphony Hall, located in Center City north of Hamilton Street on North 6th Street. The city also has some citizen bands, which perform at the West Park bandshell. These are: the Allentown Band, the oldest civilian concert band in the United States, the Marine Band of Allentown, the Municipal Band of Allentown and the Pioneer Band of Allentown.

Youth Education in the Arts makes Allentown its home. YEA sponsors The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, a ten-time DCI world champion, as well as a senior drum and bugle corps, a competitive scholastic marching band circuit, and the Urban Arts Center of the Lehigh Valley.

Rock and hip hop performances are popular at Allentown's Crocodile Rock. Past and future performers include: Hollywood Undead, Pitbull, Day26, Metro Station, and Fabolous. The city's underground scene – centered around the now-closed venue Jeff the Pigeon gained attention when hardcore punk group Pissed Jeans were signed to Sub Pop and stoner metal act Pearls and Brass signed with Drag City.

Allentown has a large radio market boasting many genres of music.

In popular culture[edit]

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

Film and television[edit]

Allentown does not have much influence on film and television, but neighboring Bethlehem holds an annual film festival, The SouthSide Film Festival. Allentown receives most of its television from Philadelphia and New York City, but Channel 69, WFMZ-TV, covers local and regional news.


Allentown is influenced by cuisine from the Pennsylvania Dutch, Hispanic and Latinos, and Philadelphia. Allentown has a local variant of the Philly cheesesteak, and local pizza parlors. Pennsylvania Dutch foods like head cheese, liver pudding, sous, chow-chow, apple butter, and others are available at some diners across the region. Ethnic food types represented include Dominican, Puerto Rican, West Indian, Japanese, Italian, Lebanese and Syrian. Fast food and restaurant chains have established a presence in the Lehigh Valley due to the growing population. A regionally-famous hot dog chain, Yocco's Hot Dogs, maintains several restaurants in the city.

Annual events[edit]

The Great Allentown Fair, Das Awkscht Fescht[2] and Mayfair are held in Allentown annually. Musikfest is held annually in neighboring Bethlehem.

Philadelphia Eagles' training camp[3] is held annually in Bethlehem. The Lehigh Valley Spring Home Show and the Lehigh Valley Auto Show[4] are held at Stabler Arena in Center Valley. The AAA minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, plays its home games from the beginning of April through the end of September each year at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

The Drum Corps International Eastern Classic has been held for over thirty years at J. Birney Crum Stadium, bringing together the top junior drum and bugle corps in the world over two nights of competition.


The first drops of Dorney Park's Steel Force and Thunderhawk rollercoasters in Allentown

Amusement Parks & Zoos[edit]

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom is the area's main amusement park, since Historic Bushkill Park closed in 2006. The Lehigh Valley Zoo and the Trexler Nature Preserve are the two zoos in the Lehigh Valley. The William F. Curtis Arboretum is the area's arboretum.


Allentown is home to these museums:


The Allentown area is home to many shopping areas and a few indoor malls. Many national stores can be found here as well as regional chains.


The Lehigh Valley is home to several golf courses. Saucon Valley Country Club hosted the 2009 Women's U.S. Open. Allentown is home to a high quality city-run golf course, the Allentown Municipal Golf Course.

See also[edit]


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