Aug 2, 2011

Trexler Smiles, Landing Revealed

I believe that today, for the first time in decades, General Trexler had something to smile about. Most people never understood why three steps were near the lower entrance of Lehigh Parkway; they seemed to lead nowhere. This morning eight people joined a grass root effort to unveil, for the first time in decades, the structure I called the Boat Landing.
Buried under the dirt and grass were several more steps leading to a landing. Chris Casey was the first to arrive and cleared these steps and the first landing himself. A second set of steps led from the landing to the main landing on the creek. These second steps had a foot or so of ground and plants.
The quality and condition of the stonework is excellent, as was all our WPA icons. I will be polite and say only that it was a crime to have let this neglect occur. On the main landing the accumulated earth was two and half feet thick. The crew dug out the curving retaining wall several yards in each direction, and cleared off the top of the wall.
Eight people working four hours managed to reveal about one third of the landing at the bottom of the steps. It was a thrill to realize we were standing at creek's edge as the WPA architects had envisioned. I stood there often as a boy. There still remains a large portion of dirt to remove at the steps base, but you can now experience the Boat Landing.
The retaining wall and the landing continue for fifty feet or so in both directions. Unfortunately a huge tree has grown on the landing to the right, but the left appears reclaimable.
We who worked there today, hope to return and clear off the remainder of the dirt at the bottom of the steps.

Perhaps others will be motivated to clear off the remaining portion of the landing to the left. Now that might even be an idea for the City; imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue. I'm most grateful to all those who helped today, and will reveal their names with their permission.

ADDENDUM:Michael –

I just wanted to thank you for organizing today’s cleanup at the “Boat Landing” in the Lehigh Parkway. It’s not often that one gets to help unearth a treasure while barely leaving home, but that’s exactly what happened today.

It was truly impressive what big difference a small group of people can make. I can’t even estimate the amount of dirt that was moved with nothing more than a few shovels and a lot of hard work.
We can only hope that the City and the Trexler Trust will become aware of this location and start giving all the great structures in the Parkway the care they deserve.
However, the best part of the story for me came after we all left. I got home and my daughter Lucy (age 7) wanted to know how things went. We hopped in the car and soon we were walking up to the stairs leading to the landing. The sun was shining, and the sunlight trickled through the trees and onto the freshly-exposed stairway.
Lucy asked if she could go down to the landing by the water and next thing I knew we were both there at the waters edge, standing on what had been buried only a few hours earlier and marveling at the beauty of the location.
We spent a few moments there - a father and daughter both enjoying something completely “new” to us (even though the landing is over 70 years old). We talked briefly about what was – and more importantly what could be again.

Thank you for making that moment possible, and I hope many others take the opportunity to visit the landing in the near future.

Mike Schware
P.S. – After visiting the landing, Lucy and I walked further upstream and saw the remnants of the bridge to the island (near the water fountain). The remaining supports of the bridge confirmed what you had told me earlier about the island being much smaller years ago.

reprinted from October 10, 2009

I will be conducting a meeting on Sept. 6, 2011, dedicated to preserving the monumental WPA structures in our park system. The park department will send a representative. Please consider joining us, at 7:00 pm, in the lower level of the Allentown Library.

15 comments:

gary ledebur said...

Having driven through much of Allentown yesterday I can only echo MM's phrase "imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue."

The city seems nothing more than a quasi-residential area supported by hundreds of strip malls. Our communities should be more than CVS, A-plus gas stations, convenience stores and pizza shops.

I strongly support the efforts of Molovinsky to make our community meaningful--not just convenient.

Anonymous said...

Last city council meeting a group of Midway Manor residents addressed council about the destruction of a 200 year-old log cabin on Club Avenue. Why the city didn't take this "treasure" under its wing and restore it into a visitor's icon...who knows.

Plan to be at your meeting.

Anonymous said...

It was totally improper to use metal shovels (!) to "excavate" those steps. The metal badly scraped the historic structure and no doubt compromised it. Somewhere, General Trexler is sobbing. Nice work Sherlock.

Anonymous said...

Dont worry, Mr. M and others who took it upon themselves to restore rather than demolish, as they say, "no good deed goes unpunished..."

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:22, actually, we were very mindful of that. the last inch or so of dirt was dug with hand tools and swept with brooms, not that you really care about the structure. please stay on your blog.

Look for the union label said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

great job it looks great

steelbreast said...

great work Molovinsky

Anonymous said...

I wonder, if in all of eternity, mother earth will ever be able to consume the PVC monstrosity at Cedar Beach.

Perhaps when the apocalypse arrives Jesus on his white stead, with eyes blazing red, will breath fire upon the horrific "play" contraption and reduce it a boiling puddle of toxic carbon mass in which to entomb the forsaken.

How cool would that be! Sorry!

michael molovinsky said...

anon 5:11, as one who was painted as an opponent of the playground, let me address your comment. first i must say that i was not an opponent of the playground per se, but a defender and advocate of historical priorities for the park system. now that the playground is a fact on the ground, i have visited it at least twice, and driven by often. it is well received by the community. my guess is that Jesus would appreciate the kids enjoying themselves.

i addressed this comment because any accomplishments made in regard to the WPA monuments will be with the city's cooperation. although I seek to change the city's priorities and make the WPA structures high on list, I realize that no significant maintenance can occur without being on the park department agenda.

Bill said...

Put it on my calender. Missed the clean up last year. They are worth preserving, it is hard to fathom any other perspective on this topic.

Anonymous said...

This is anon 5:11. My apologies if there was a misunderstanding.

This was just a random thought, blowing through my mind after reading Obama averted a huge crisis (sic) today.

I understand and support your position. Later tonight I will ask Jesus what he thinks.

However I find it increasingly sad that the populous needs such a huge investment to entertain their children and have a place to hang out.

I personally think the whole structure is absolutely hideous and fear that will only increase with the ravages of weather over time.

Anonymous said...

You are an urban archeologist! Great going, Michael!

Whethervain said...

(Wanted to enter this thread while it was fresh, darnit).

My wife & I JUST became aspiring bile riders. Our first time out, we chose the relatively newly established rail trail in Hellertown (where we both grew up as high school sweethearts).

Our 2nd outing was the Lehigh Parkway area (as we live in SW Allentown now). As it turns out, we were exactly about where your ”dig" was. We've discovered the generally friendly demeanor of the folks walking, biking, jogging, etc. in the great outdoors. As it happened, we stuck up a conversation with someone walking her dog and found out that her husband was part of your cleanup effort here (the last name was very similar to that of a city official...Schware, or something like that). This conversation happened BEFORE I came across this blog entry.

Today (Aug 8th), my wife and I went biking there again, this time on a mission to observe your accomplishments, but alas, could not pinpoint exactly where it was.

I take it that it's near the bridge known as the ROBIN HOOD bridge, but aside from a little stone arch bridge and small stone "pool", was unable to locate where you were. Crossing that little bridge, put you right smack dab in a jungle of cat'o-nine tails. Were you back there somewhere?

Unfortunately, I work 4-8 PM every evening, so won't be able to attend your Sept. meeting. Might be able to join your cleanup crew however!

Thanks for this story! I'm starting to regret that you didn't become our mayor. I guess it's out of the question now, isn't it? On second thought, let's just leave politics out of this :-)

michael molovinsky said...

whethervain, the boat landing is toward regency tower apartments. take the path on the north side of robin hood, past the large three arch kiln structure. as you approach the end of the path at the small parking lot, it's to your right, but not really noticeable from the path.

i hope to create a group which will continue to advocate for the WPA structures, and have additional meetings, events or gatherings. hopefully, you will be able to attend one of those. thanks. mm