May 26, 2011
An Eminent Domain Failure
During the early 1970's, Allentown demolished the entire neighborhood between Union and Lawrence Streets. It was, in a large part, home to the black community. How ironic that we destroyed the cohesion of a neighborhood, but renamed Lawrence Street after Martin Luther King. The only remnant of the neighborhood is the St. James A.M.E. Church. Going up the hill today we now have a vacant bank call center on the east, and the Housing Authority Project on the west. A whole neighborhood existed in from both sides of Lehigh Street, including black owned shops. The houses were old and humble, but people owned them, many for generations. Some blacks at the time wondered if the project was Urban Renewal or Negro Removal?
above reprinted from January 24, 2011 (then titled Downhill on Lehigh Street)
You don't have to go far from Hamilton Street to see an eminent domain failure; Only several blocks and 40 years. Fortunately, for our imported leaders, memory of this debacle has faded. Allentown now wants to discard the most historic mercantile block of Hamilton Street, so that an out of state developer can force feed hotdogs to people from Catasauqua, at minor league hockey games.