Jan 15, 2010

Allentown Post Office 1934


In the 1930's, the "New Deal" was good to Allentown. As I noted on earlier posts, our park system was enriched by monumental stone construction under the WPA. We also received one of the architectural gems of our area, the magnificent art deco post office. Constructed during 1933-34, no detail was spared in making the lobby an ageless classic. The floor is adorned with handmade Mercer tiles from Doylestown. Muralist Gifford Reynolds Beal worked thru 1939 portraying the Valley's cultural and industrial history. This incredible 74 year old photograph is the contractor's documentation of the project's progress. The back of the photo states; Taken Sept 1 - 34 showing lobby, floor, screens, desks, completed & fixtures hung

Reprinted from Oct. 25, 2008

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this photo. The Mercer tiles are beautiful. Now, sadly, so much of the building is closed to the public and the outside sidewalk is littered with junky paper bins and chains and garbage is everywhere on the sidewalk and the street curbing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

normally I don't enjoy standing in lines that don't seem to move, but looking at the details of the lobby at the post office takes the edge off quite a bit. there is so many upkeep issues though so I shudder at the costs to restore it. My fear is that in the next 10 years the postal service is going to find another location somewhere else in the city. I have already noticed that some packages, when you receive the notice, have to be picked up else where, or you need to specifically call (wait 10 mins) and request that it be sent to the allentown office for pick up the next day or in two days.

Thanks for the history lesson. like other buildings of it's era and style, it is worthy of preservation.

geoff

ironpigpen said...

Nice

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post MM. It is a spectacular building.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Nice! I grew up near that PO, but have not been there in years. As a kid, even tho I knew nothing of deco style, I still felt something was attractive about that lobby.
As kids, we always talked about the reverse Nazi symbol in those tiles, which actually means "Good Luck" or some other positive conotation. Of course, we didn't know that back then.
Thanks again for the memories...

Tangled Blue Yarns said...

Thanks for the picture. I grew up in center city and moved away in 2002, to get a degree in historic preservation. Growing up in center city, I found beauty in the architecural details of the historic building downtown. This ability, to see beyond the garbage and decay, is hard to manufacture, and has served me well in my exploration of preservation. On a recent trip back home for christmas I visited the new (to me) museum downtown. It was a bittersweet experience for me to see so many rich exhibits which documented the great days of Allentown's past, only to look out the windows onto the street below to see what it has become.

Anonymous said...

It is time to start writing about the Queen City Airport's history Mr. Molavinsky. If the Mayor has his way,it too will soon be history.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:18, i agree that developing queen city is not in the city's best interest, and will post about it in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Another WPA project was the stone stairs from Martin Luther King Blvd. in the general area of 10th Street in Allentown up to 9th Street. Today they badly need repair. If these stimulus dollars were just used to repair old WPA projects, that would be a huge step forward. Instead, the money is being used to stripe highways, with no lasting legacy. This "recession" is going to go on for a long time, so Obama might have time to eventually get it right. Just keep printing that money. It has value as long as you say it does.

Anonymous said...

MM -

I worry about the post office building. Continuing roof problems, A/C not working in the summer, heat not working in the winter, etc, etc, etc.

The building is a gem and it needs to be properly cared for.

It would be nice if someone in Charlie Dent's office could make sure this building is getting sufficient maintenance funds and is being properly maintained.

I know he had it renamed a few years ago after former Allentown Mayor Joe Daddona. I don't know if the Congressman is aware of the deterioration that is happening in his district.