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May 4, 2009
Stairway To Shame
In the mid 1930's, Allentown, and especially it's park system, was endowed with magnificent stone edifices, courtesy of the WPA; Works Progress Administration. This was a New Deal program designed to provide employment during the aftermath of the depression. Stone masons from all over the country converged on this city and built structures which are unreplaceable. The walls and step structures in Lehigh Parkway, as the Union Terrace amphitheater, are legacies which must be protected. Pictured above is the grand stairway from Lawrence Street (Martin Luther King Drive) up to Union Street, built in 1936. The steps are in a state of disrepair. They lead to the great Union Street Retaining Wall, fifty feet high and two blocks long, which was completed in 1937. I call upon the Trexler Trust and Allentownians of memory, to insist these steps are re-pointed and preserved. The current Administration knows little of our past; save the things in Allentown that matter.
The City of Allentown is embarking upon a $3.8 million dollar capital plan to change the nature of our parks, funded in large part by the Trexler Trust. Although a number of fads will be accommodated, not one dollar is earmarked to preserve the existing WPA treasures. General Trexler envisioned the parks as a reserve for the passive enjoyment of nature. Among the new Disney-World type plans are a wedding pavilion in the Rose Garden, and the largest playground in eastern Pennsylvania to be built in Cedar Park. The trail through Cedar Creek Park will have lights installed, and the picnic area's will be expanded. Anybody driving past Cedar Beach on a Monday morning sees the trash generated currently by only a few picnic tables. How many more park workers will be required to deal with the consequences of these new plans? The playground is being billed as a "Destination Playground", who will pay to keep that clean? Allentown should build and monitor numerous playgrounds throughout center city, within walking distance for children and parents. The Trexler Trust and The City of Allentown have a responsibility to first repair and maintain these iconic stone edifices which are unique to Allentown.
photo info: the dedication stone is on the Union Street wall. The steps shown in the photo here go through a tunnel in the wall and climb up to Spring Garden Street. They are in total disrepair. This posting is a combination of two previous posts, which appeared on this blog last September.