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.

16 comments:

gary ledebur said...

Go Tribune! No hockey. This desperate move is wrong-headed.

Anonymous said...

This horrible plan must be stopped.
http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no-to-ed-eminent-domain-and-help-save-hamilton-street-from-outside-interests#updates

Anonymous said...

The Union and Lawrence Street neighborhood was a primarily African-American community. Actually, the city's first barber (of any color)opened here and many other city firsts began here. Speak with former residents of this thriving and caring community uprooted by those with other thoughts on their minds and they'll tell you how special the neighborhood was.

Look at this area today. Hardly a tree in sight. Forget about grass or a decent playground and community neighboring now meets
against concrete walls and dust.

Anonymous said...

MM-
If you get a chance, read about the
New London, CT domaine case and what's happened to the land and the project.

Anonymous said...

History will repeat itself, but the scoundrels perpetrating this depravity will be long gone.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 12:01, i don't know about long gone, but already re-elected. i think that the arena's shortcomings will be apparent within a couple years of completion. the short staff and lack of institutional memory at the morning call provides an easy pass for this nonsense. (already the city beat has changed reporters three times this year)

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:24, i had two high school era friends from the neighborhood, and my father sold meat to one of the markets. future posts will show more area's lost to the planners at city hall.

Anonymous said...

Would that not be part of a "real" professional journalist's job --- to learn something of the history of the territory being reported on...

...as compared to just cranking out propaganda that fits the applicable Narrative?

Oh, that's right.

Real, objective journalism died along time ago in this country.

Sorry, my bad.

Local said...

Michael,
Another great photograph.
I'm lost without the towers on south mountain.
Where was that image taken?
Thanks

LVCI said...

One of the numerous jobs my dad had for a while was with Bond Bread. Which as I remember it, the delivery trucks were out of the location where Dan Schantz sits today on Lehigh Street (if I'm correct).

Anywho.. his route was this area. A couple of Saturday's, when I was very young, I rode with him. Race was not an issue back in those days around here. Maybe at city hall, but not amongst the everyday peoples. The route was very popular and made a good amount of money for Bond Bread and he. In fact it was one of the more desirable area for hucksters.

Those were the days that "hucksters" made a pretty decent living serving all the local neighborhoods with produce, bread, dairy, household goods, brushes, etc.

Allentown's politicians decided to tear down swaths of black neighborhoods. Those who owned homes, bars and stores going down on Hamilton Street between 5th to the old Lehigh Valley train station at the bottom of the bridge. Some of which is the very land the courthouse and city hall now sit on.

Second Street between Hamilton & Union also was "renewed". Also under the 8th Street bridge on Lawrence Street.

All those areas had tax paying property owners. Few to none exist in this same area today. The city promised when they rebuilt these folks would have access to low cost homes and could move back in to their old neighborhoods.

THAT NEVER HAPPENED--
And so now.. here we go again. Promises made once again by Allentown's politicians to make those affected by the arena project to be made whole. Been there done that. It didn't happen the first 4 or 5 times.. why will it be different this time?

Anonymous said...

Because the know-it-all, holier-than-thou Progressive Liberals say it will be.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 2:24, the picture was taken at the T of lehigh and union streets, near the current racquetball club.

lvci, indeed bond bread was in that area of lehigh street, but built right next to the road, not set back like the greenhouse. you will enjoy the photograph on the next installment of eminent domain failures

LVCI said...

OOPS.. Correction, Second Street between Hamilton & Union also was "renewed".

Should read.. Fourth Street between Hamilton & Union also was "renewed

Anonymous said...

Is the racquetball club still open?

Is the call center vacant?

What about Concannon, Gallagher and Miller un the road, are they still in business on MLK?

And hfow about Riverbend apartments is that a private housing project?

I would bet if the houses were still in place they would be full.

Full with people and not vacant space.

What gives in this are of Allentown? What is the real estate market alluding to?

Anonymous said...

I think Council men should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers so we could identify their corporate sponsors.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:17

I don't need no stinkin' uniform to know the Rubber-Stamp Politburo has a UNION LABEL

HANSON BROTHER