Jun 27, 2011

Temporary Inconvenience, Permanent Degradation

Urban renewal projects are nothing new to Allentown. Every couple decades some Mayor thinks he has a brighter idea. In a previous post, I showed the historic Lehigh and Union Street neighborhood, totally destroyed by city planners. Today, an under used Bank calling center sits awkwardly alone on that Lehigh Street hill. The picture above shows another hill of merchants and residents, fed to a mayor's bulldozer. The picture is from 1953, and shows Hamilton Street, from Penn Street down toward the railroad stations. At that time we still had two stations, The Lehigh Valley Railroad and The New Jersey Central. The current closed bar and restaurant occupies the Jersey Central. Everything on Hamilton Street, west of the bridge over the Jordan creek, with the exception of the Post Office, was demolished up to Fifth Street. Government Center would be built on the north side of the street, and a new hotel on the south, to accommodate the many anticipated visitors. Recently we had to remove and replace the facade of the county courthouse, which leaked since it was constructed. The hotel is now a rooming house.

Unannounced plans are underway for a new hotel to service anticipated visitors to Pawlowski's Palace of Sports. It will be up to some future blogger to document how that hotel becomes a rooming house.


gary ledebur said...

I once had a boss who told me all government progress moves in a circle. He said to just stand still. Half of the time you will be behind, but the other half you will be out front!

Anonymous said...

Mike, you mention of a new hotel that will named after Pawlowski,what will happen to the old Hotel at 6th and Hamilton sts Will the hockey players be staying at the new hotel or at Hotel Bethlehem

Anonymous said...

6:26 Anon,

The local AHL team's players will rent houses or apartments in the area, as do IronPigs players.

The visiting AHL team's players will not be staying at the Hotel Bethlehem, as do visiting International League teams here to play at Coca-Cola Park.

Hockey is not like baseball, where teams play 3-4 games series all season long. Visiting AHL teams are in town for one night only and are, most of the time, scheduled to be somewhere else --- often somewhere fairly far away --- the very next night.

Playoffs are a bit of a different story, when teams will play no more than two games in a row in the same town at one time...but, judging from the Phantoms' record the past few seasons, local hotel people should not be licking their chops in anticipation of visiting AHL playoff teams anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

I say more BS.
Stay a the mayors venue?
It sure is flying.

Anonymous said...

These periodic "improvements" to enhance Allentown only pan out when the economy is good. That means a thriving business environment and a strong job market to keep as many people employed as possible. This is the only way to collect enough revenue from the taxes that are needed to support the improvements. This is not the current situation in the economy, especially cities like Allentown and others in PA. There are simply too many people with no income or low income to provide that tax base. Another problem that gets worse over time is the crime that keeps business out and patrons moving to safer areas to raise their families. That leaves the "irresponsible" people the only ones left. Most of these people are on welfare and let their kids run the streets with no father figure to keep the families together and to be productive citizens. They also have little to no pride in their residence since they aren't working and contributing!
This has been going on for 50 years or more and will not end soon. The politicians see these derelicts as voters to keep them in power and as we all know, they do!
Refurbishing Allentown with new attractions is an attempt to "move" the problems to a different area, (out of sight, out of mind) so the politicians that helped to create this problem, don't have to face their failures. The biggest failure is to continue to vote for these politicians who are only interested in keeping their power! You all know who you are! When you change, the city will change but don't expect that to happen any time soon. You helped create the mess, now you will have to live with it until you wise up! Remember, votes count! Reality is like mother nature! It is very unforgiving!

gary ledebur said...

I am tired of posters blaming political leaders for the economic demise of Allentown. Sure many are not competent but the real culprits are the businessmen who built the Lehigh Valley Mall with mob money; the executives at Mack Trucks who left town for greener pastures, the brewery built in Macungie so that blacks and Puerto Ricans would not work there, AT&T that moved jobs to india, and on and on. I think we blame elected officials because we do not understand economics. Another reason to improve our schools and colleges.

Patrick McHenry said...

Gary -

It was only a short time ago that the city had responsible leadership. Things might not have been perfect, but they were certainly better.

In the past ten years we've had city leaders willing to bankrupt the city in exchange for their own political benefit.

In those ten years, unfathonable deals have been made with unions by politicians who then rake in the union cash (as campaign contributions) and union manpower at the polls. Select businesses (coincidentally campaign contributors) are funneled government grants, loans and tax-free status while those not politically connected fend for themselves or are forced out. Recently, local businesses were locked out from bidding on government contracts unless they are unionized (very few in the city are).

As a result, the cost of government has gone up; taxes have been increased; and services lowered. This has resulted in a city that is not as safe or well-maintained as it should be.

So please don't blame Allentown's problems on a mall, or select businesses moving out of town. What you cite as the cause of the problem is actually the result of the ill-advised actions of our city "leaders".

gary ledebur said...

I sm sorry but I lived in Allentown before and after the Lehigh Valley Mall. Once the mall was built it was only a matter of time until the three downtown department stores were gone.

Businesses left town. Jobs left town. Money and development moved to Macungie and Whitehall. White people with some money, moved to suburban school districts and property values failed to keep pace with surrounding areas. Poorer folks moved in.

Perhaps the union members are getting rich with their buying politicians but I doubt it. Perhaps the politicians are stupid and greedy, but I doubt it. Perhaps the voters who elect them are stupid also, but I doubt it.

Allentown no longer has any economic reason to exist. It was lost in the 1970s due to the actions of businessmen and white flight.

Blame the elected leaders if you want but somebody votes for them every year.

Patrick McHenry said...

Gary -

Businesses and people have left our cities for a reason.

Perhaps you are describing the unintended casualty of government's decades-old (and no end in sight) War on Poverty.
I believe that is the point of MM's posting.

As long as I have been alive, I've heard politicians talking about improving our urban areas. Yet seldom have I heard a call for an honest evaluation of what government has already done, or an acknowledgement of even the possibility that many of the problems might have actually been caused by government involvement.

Politicians act as if nothing has ever been tried by the government, or that it will just take a few more dollars (spent doing the same things) to make everything better. Or that without government involvement things would have been so much worse (sound familiar?).

Only in government could you have so much money spent with such poor results and still have the same people in charge.

Maybe the mall and the suburbs have been a success because they cater to a customer with an income level that government isn't trying to attract to our cities. Yes, government pays lip service to attracting upper income earners to the city, but spends much more on attracting and subsidizing those with lower incomes.

Until that changes, you will see more failure in our cities.

I'm not talking about turning our backs on people in need, but there needs to be an acknowledgement that 1) a healthy city can only absorb so many below the poverty rate or the city will wither and die, and 2) cities like Allentown have passed that point and need to change policy.

Anonymous said...


I had no idea it was Blacks and Puerto Ricans behind the brewery being built in Macungie.

Gee, you know EVERYTHING, don't you, Ledebur?

Or is it that, somehow (magically) EVERYTHING with you really revolve around race all the time?

I'll let you tell me...


Anonymous said...

Temporary Inconvenience, Permanent Degradation...

...playing the Race Card.


gary ledebur said...

The decision of Schaefer Brewery to relocate from Brooklyn to Macungie was based in part on race. do some research!

gary ledebur said...


"Only in government could you have so much money spent with such poor results and still have the same people in charge."

I guess you have not heard of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, AIG or Bernie Madoff. If I understand recent history the current recession was triggered, in part, by greedy businessmen.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, knowing what i know now, the schaefer deal might well had to do with attractive water and sewage rates. please elaborate somewhat on your statement concerning race, if a source link is not possible. i have never heard this allegation before.

Patrick McHenry said...

Gary -

I think you're proving my point.

Last I heard, Madoff was in jail.

As far as the others, to the extent that those companies still stand, I think that they could thank the government for foolishly bailing them out with our money.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps the union members are getting rich with their buying politicians but I doubt it. Perhaps the politicians are stupid and greedy, but I doubt it. Perhaps the voters who elect them are stupid also, but I doubt it."
So then, what is the problem? Listen carefully! It's the liberal democrats that drive business out of town by overtaxing and calling corporations greedy and corrupt. They are anti business and pro union for one simple reason...votes.
If I wanted to start a business, I would certainly not do it in Allentown or any place run by the hypocrite Democrats, many of whom are "rich", the term they like to throw around to make the ignorant poor think they will somehow be wealthier if the rich are demonized and taxed into oblivion. Just keep harping about the businesses being corrupt and greedy and keep supporting the democrats. One day you will wake up and find nothing but a cesspool where Allentown used to be if it isn't already too late.