In a recent puff piece in The Morning Call about Allentown's 250th birthday, Mayor Ed Pawlowski used the phrase, "City Without Limits," no less than three times. What does that slogan mean?
First, let me tell you that it is just a slogan, created by a paid image consultant. How ironic that the current leadership in Allentown, which was the sanctuary of the Liberty Bell and a bastion of industrial America, can only describe our city in paid-for, meaningless slogans. Truth be told, the current leadership has no institutional memory of Allentown. They didn't live here when Allentown was the All-American City. The proposed hockey arena is referred to as "transformational."
Allentown was transformational in creating the American dream. "Built like a Mack truck" was a meaningful slogan. It meant the people of Allentown had the work ethic and skill to produce the best. The Western Electric plant on Union Boulevard first produced transistors and then silicon chips as Lucent. A hundred factories required several train lines to haul raw material and finished products in and out of Allentown. Hess Brothers taught store owners all over the country how to merchandise their products.
Before somebody reminds me that there is no more strawberry pie at the Patio Restaurant in Hess's basement, let me get back to 2011. If we are to celebrate our 250th birthday, let us honor some historic icons that still exist. In the mid-1930s our park system benefited from magnificent stone structures built by the Works Progress Administration during Roosevelt's New Deal program. These icons of our nationally known park system are in need of major restoration, if they are to remain standing. Such a restoration would be a most fitting tribute to our upcoming birthday.
The above, titled as A Slogan Won't transform Allentown, was printed in The Morning Call on Saturday, November 12, 2011.