Sep 3, 2009

Relics Of Our Past

One of the surviving relics of our industrial past is the right of way of former railroad spur lines. Allentown literally had hundreds of factories serviced by dozens of spur routes and rail sidings. The area between Second and Front Streets was crisscrossed with dozens of spur lines. Even the west end had service. A line ran behind the current site of B'nai B'rith Apartments, across 17 th St. and up along side of the dry-cleaners. The B'nai B'rith was the site of the former Trexler Lumber Yard, which burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in the mid 70's; The heat from the fire could be felt in West Park. The rails and ties are gone, long ago sold to scrap yards. In many cases the space occupied by the right of ways can still be seen to the knowing eye. They appear as alleys which were never paved. Here and there a surviving loading dock provides another clue. Show in this photo from 1939 are the Mack Truck factories on S. 10th Street, now part of the Bridgeworks Complex. Here the components for Mack Trucks were manufactured. The parts were then trucked to the Assembly Plant (5C) located on S. 12 Street, right off of Lehigh Street. "Built Like A Mack Truck" became a figure of speech across America. It was a prouder time than the lyrics from Billy Joe; little did we know that things could get worse.


Anonymous said...

MM, I grew up in the Lehigh Valley and thought I knew alot about the area. But reading your posts shows me how little I really know. Please keep it up!

The Banker

LVCI said...

MM said.. A line ran behind the current site of B'nai B'rith Apartments, across 17 th St

It was in this area that the late father-in-law (when he was young) helped unload brick after brick that came in on rail cars onto waiting trucks to transport downtown to build the PPL building.

Alongside the entire length of Sumner Avenue ran a spur that once brought the fair/circus into town.

Anonymous said...

Just about every town and city in PA has a proud industrial heritage. Most of these towns and cities are COMPLETELY different from where they were 50-80 years ago. Industry has changed and certainly the communities where these industries were located have changed as a result. The decline in Allentown's industry (and Bethlehem's tood) really do pale in comparison to places in SW PA. Either way, the blue collar jobs aren't what they used to be. And the result is a middle class that has shrunk more and more with each generation.

Anonymous said...

The real problem with the loss of the "Middle Class", in many of these post industrial cities like Allentown, is the increasing disparity in income between the top class and the lower class.

The average family income of the upper income earners has increased at a far greater percentage than that of the lower income earners.

That is if the lower income earners income is increasing at all.

All kinds of social problems occur as a result of this phenomenon.

The overall result is an increasing level of poverty in Allentown, a strained infrastructure, more crime, poorer health, more blighted housing, decreasing property values, over crowding, diminishing tax receipts and more family dysfunction.

Of any group this affects children most of all.

This is what administrative policies should address, if they address anything at all and there is any hope for a restoration of the city as a place to live.

What do we have? The reverse of Robin Hood. The Sheriff has taken over. Steal from the poor and give to the rich.

Simply stated, policy dictates lying to the people. They are considered wayward fools, by the administration, anyway.

All of this has become the normal course of business in city hall. Get rid of the mayor.

Get a candidate in the office who really has the interest of the city at heart.

ironpigpen said...

"Get rid of the mayor"

With all due respect, don't put your last dollar on that.

Pawlowski is entrenched and Phillips appears to be in disarray.

Allentown will get a nice Multi-Generational Handicapped Accessible Super Duper Playground at Cedar Beach, however.

No matter what happens, the historical articles are great!