Aug 31, 2011

Saving the Spring Pond

As a small boy growing up in the twin homes above Lehigh Parkway, I would go down the steep wooded ravine and cross the Robin Hood Bridge. The stone lined spring pond and miniature bridge was just the first in a series of wonderful WPA constructions to explore. Last year, when I organized the reclamation of the Boat Landing, my memory turned to the pond. Although overgrown with several inches of sod, I knew the treasure was still savable.

On May 23, Andrew Kleiner conducted a tour of Lehigh Parkway, there I met Mike Gilbert of the Park Department and pitched the idea of a partial restoration. On May 26th, I posted A Modest Proposal, which outlined my hopes for the pond. On July 24, Kleiner posted Lehigh Parkway:Molovinsky gets his wish. I had no idea my modest proposal was implemented.

Park Director Greg Weitzel has indicated to me that the pond features uncovered will be maintained. Any further clearing will be at the discretion of Mike Gilbert. In our conversation he also stated that there are virtually no funds available for the preservation of the WPA icons.

I will attempt to organize a group and contributions for this most worthy cause. Between the Spring Pond and The Boat Landing there was once a bridge to the island. Wouldn't it be nice if a small boy could go exploring.

reprinted from August 9, 2010

Although it has taken over a year, the meeting will finally occur. Please join me and others next Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 7PM, in the lower level of the Allentown Library.

Aug 30, 2011

The King Has Abdicated

In 1958 my father had a food stand at the fair. It took him about an hour to realize you can not sell hot dogs in the King's back yard; Yocco, the hot dog king. When Yocco's claimed last year they were not at the fair because their canvas ripped, I was skeptical. This year it's official, they have abdicated their spot. Tonight the fair was jammed. In Ag Hall the granges still compete in vegetable canning. A wiseguy still incites you to dunk him. The world's smallest horse hasn't grown. Maybe Yocco's is gone, but the fair is still much more like 1958 than any other aspect of Allentown.

reprinted from Aug. 28, 2007, Sept. 1, 2009 and Aug. 30, 2010

Aug 29, 2011

Allentown Memories

click on photo to enlarge
From low income sections of center city, to expensive suburbs, Allentown and the Lehigh Valley is becoming home to more and more outsiders. I'm afraid the time will soon come when local memorabilia will have little appeal. Fortunately, for those interested, some impressive collections still exist. This past year Robert Bungerz published Allentown Remembered, documenting his outstanding collection of historical postcards and other objects. David Bausch, former County Executor and authority on Automobile Art, is also a expert on things Allentown. Then there are the many small collections, home of the hidden treasures. Above is an early aerial photograph of the Allentown Fair. Those interested in the recent commotion concerning the 19TH Street Theater District may find the upper right of the photograph interesting. There is no theater, there are no houses on Saint George Street and most of the buildings seem to to garages and automobile in nature (don't tell Auto-Zone). This gem is probably from the late teens or early 20's, and comes from the Thomas Reed Collection. Thomas is aka Z1pyro, long time expert shooter for Zambelli Firework Company. He retired several years ago, and we who appreciate fireworks, notice his departure.

reprinted from July 8, 2008

Aug 26, 2011

Arena Gets Press Pass

The Mayor must be happy with the series of Morning Call feature articles about his palace of sport. Although written by two reporters, there is not one critical word. The articles gloss over the fact that the arena has grown from a $80 million project to now include an event center, and a price tag of $175 million. This has occurred before the first shovel of dirt has been lifted, or the first word of public input. Speaking of dirt, none has been disclosed. Last month, the displaced merchants were dismissed as selling "discount" clothes and "cheap" electronics. Visit Target in South Whitehall, and see the men's shirts for $4.99. While in the western suburb, stop in at the AT&T by Starbucks, and get a GO phone for $9.95, we're all discount consumers. The articles might have included the expense of Pawlowski's previous location at the river-front. There, we stole the Neuweiler Brewery from the lawful owner, but paid $800,000 for the garage behind it, owned by a roofer. We also purchased a furniture plant further south on Front Street, taking all three properties off the tax rolls. Talking of taxes, in the fine print, Pat Browne discloses that property taxes can be used for Pawlowski's Palace of Sport, if necessary. I suspect as this project seems to know no limits, it will be necessary. How will earned income tax from the poorest section of Allentown pay the debt service on a $200 million dollar bond? At some point in time, the arena will get very expensive for the taxpayers. Other municipalities have learned, just because you build it, it doesn't mean that they will come. Competition for entertainment dollars is stiff. Don't be fooled by the enthusiasm of a team owner or an arena operator, it's not their money. In early presentations we were sacrificing the merchants, we're now gambling our taxes, which currently go for needed public service. As it becomes necessary to use the property taxes for the arena, will the city, county and school districts cut back their budgets? Due diligence and public discussion may have anticipated that this plan may well result in tax increases, as the current taxes are siphoned off for debt service. But there was no public discussion, nor even scrutiny by the press.

Bernie O'Hare received an advance copy of this post, and is preparing a sequel for next week

UPDATE: molovinsky on allentown exclusive; The Neighborhood Improvement Zone Map

Hurricane Diane

Hurricane Diane hit the Lehigh Valley in August of 1955. Living in Little Lehigh Manor, I remember huddling in the house, while the metal garbage cans of the era flew around the neighborhood. My father, whose meat market was on Union Street by the Lehigh River, worked throughout the night. Fortunately for him, his market had an second floor backup cooler, and a small freight elevator. While the retail business district on Hamilton Street is elevated enough to be unaffected from flooding, center city Easton was devastated by the Delaware. The next morning was rather surreal for a nine year old boy. A large willow tree on the corner of Lehigh Parkway South and Catalina Ave. was lying on it's side. Although the Little Lehigh receded quickly, the park road and basin had been flooded. Diane remains a record in flooding and damage. Let us hope it remains that way.

photo from the RoseGallery

Aug 25, 2011

New Twist To Arena Dance

It's not easy being a student of the arena project, there's no text book, and the lectures are not announced. Although State Senator Pat Brown did recently reveal that property taxes could be utilized in a pinch, even the local taxing bodies were kept out of the loop. Thanks to Morning Call reporter Adam Clark, we now learn that this secretive scheme, known as the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), can be used by private investors. Real estate investor J.B. Reilly can use taxes generated on his newly acquired properties to make payments on a $20 million dollar loan. Although Reilly has owned a building across from the arena for over a decade, he has been acquiring additional property in the area. City Hall has claimed that secrecy was necessary to acquire real estate in the target block for the public good. Apparently, this policy has profited some select individuals as well.

Cubby Checker introduced a new song and dance in the early 60's called the Twist.

Aug 24, 2011

The General Gently Weeps

General Trexler died in an automobile accident in 1933; had he lived a few more years and seen the completed WPA Projects throughout Allentown's Parks, it would have made him very happy.

Currently the walls and structures in Lehigh Parkway are probably the most seen and used WPA structures.
However, without a doubt, the constructions in Fountain Park are both the most monumental and historically important.

The massive stairway rises off of Martin Luther King Drive and climbs up to Union Street.

Construction continues on the other side of Union Street with a colossal retaining wall which is several blocks long.

Contained in this wall is a tunnel leading to another mammoth stairwell which climbs up to Spring Garden Street.

These steps were used over the years by thousands of Mack Truck workers going to the factory on S. 10th Street, and thousands of kids going into the park to play. Although many resources has been spent on the Park system in the last few years, none has been used to maintain these most important treasures. Please join me on Tuesday, September 6 to organize a group dedicated to the preservation of the WPA Structures. The meeting will he held in the lower level of the Allentown Public Library. Invitations have been extended to the Park Department and Trexler Trust.

Aug 23, 2011

Allentown 1951

1951 was a good year for Allentown. Industry found the combination of location and work ethic conducive to production. Western Electric had built their new plant on Union Boulevard in 1948. General Electric joined Mack Trucks on the south side. General MacArthur himself visited the fair that year. Hamilton Street benefited from a retail genius, Max Hess. When the Allentown High basketball team won the state championship that year, the celebration took place late that night, at 7th and Hamilton. Although Lehigh Valley Diary was built in the late 1940's, there was very little way out on 7th Street. The Allentown Cardinals played at the stadium, Breadon Field, now occupied by the Lehigh Valley Mall.

Aug 21, 2011

Armstrong Questions Acting Superintendent

Guest Post by Scott Armstrong
New Superintendent OK With Duplicity?
The following quote from Russ Mayo who has been promoted to acting superintendent appears in today’s Morning Call article, “The human cost of school reform”
“Russ Mayo, who was elevated from deputy superintendent to acting superintendent Thursday, defended his former boss.
Mayo said Friday he never witnessed or heard of Zahorchak threatening an employee. Mayo said Zahorchak's Pathways plan presented a clear vision that will be continued.
‘I always felt personally comfortable with asking him questions about it and even at times challenging him on it,’ Mayo said. "The thing I admire most about him was his focus was constantly on the students, which was clearly his concern in the district."
The following information is also from today’s Steve Esack’s reporting:
“On July 6, 2010 — five days into his new job — Zahorchak called a meeting of more than 20 administrators in which he outlined plans to seek $40 million in grants for six schools, sources at the meeting said. During the meeting Burdette "Buddy" Chapel, then principal of Harrison-Morton Middle School, asked Zahorchak if principals would be let go. Zahorchak, tapping his finger on the table for emphasis, said no.
The meeting ended and Chapel, along with the principals of Central Elementary, Trexler and Raub middle schools, and Allen and Dieruff high schools wrote the grant proposals and submitted them on Friday, July 16.
Their proposals said the schools would install a new governance structure and did not include language about removing principals, according to a copy of an original grant proposal obtained by The Morning Call.
The grant applications, however, were changed over that weekend to say: "The current principal will be removed from the current school-based governance structure," according to the final application filed with the state Department of Education. As a result, Allentown won $7.8 million for six schools and four of six principals — at Harrison-Morton, Central, Allen and Dieruff — were reassigned to other administrative duties.
"We wrote ourselves out of a job," one of the four said.
On Sept. 7, 2010, Zahorchak issued a news release announcing the district had secured school improvement grants. It did not say principals would be removed.”
Clearly then deputy superintendent Russ Mayo had to be aware of his immediate superior’s duplicity in this matter; telling the principals that they would not be let go, then immediately rewriting the grant applications to do exactly the opposite. Yet, Russ Mayo took no action to set the record straight or protest the deception. This would seem to demonstrate a clear lack of integrity and moral fiber. This begs the question; is this the best we can do to fill the void left by Zahorchack's departure?

Scott Armstrong

Editor's Note by Molovinsky: Mr. Armstrong is a candidate for the school board, and the parent of two boys who went through the Allentown School District. I personally approve Mr. Mayo's appointment as acting superintendent, and presume he was attempting to quell the storm down on Penn Street. I look forward to the much needed scrutiny Mr. Armstrong will bring to the board and administration.

Aug 19, 2011

Zahorchak Departs

Although the school board president said Zahorchak's departure was necessary to save money, and the newspaper dutifully reported that, we can't afford too many savings like that. Lets add up the savings. Effective principals removed from our schools and hidden in closets down on Penn Street. Remember Falko? Successful principal who kept Allen under control, removed and reassigned to the never implemented Over Achiever Academy at 4th and Allen. Remember the hundreds of honor students pleading with the school board to stay at Allen and Dieruff, where they participated in the extra curricular activities and mentored their fellow students. Remember all the additional administrators hired, including Joyce Marin, revealed on this blog. This blog recognized last fall that Zahorchak had more ideas than we either needed or could afford. Let's hope that the school board learned something from this expensive lesson. Take your time with the next hire, your instincts aren't that good.

Fire Him Now, October 13, 2010
The Nickel and Diming of Allentown, November 9, 2010
White Charter School, February 21, 2011
Defending A Bad Decision, March 2, 2011
Allentown School District, April 1, 2011
Caution, unconfirmed rumor, April 14, 2011
School District on Front Burner, April 30, 2011
Pathways To Success, June 2, 2011
The Idea Man, June 8, 2011
Hardball on Penn Street, June 24, 2011
Zahorchak's Politics Compromise School District, June 29, 2011

The above is a partial list of the posts this blog brought to bear on the appropriateness of the board hiring Zahorchak, and his performance in that position. I have omitted my posts about The Morning Call not crediting this blog in their coverage, despite scoops, and direct comments from school board members and the superintendent alike. The posts above speak for themselves.

Aug 17, 2011

Figment Of My Imagination

Dear Mayor Pawlowski,
Forgive me for saying this, but I'm very disappointed in the changes made to my town. After my wife passed away, I moved to the senior high-rise at 8th and Union St. I can see the old Mack Transmission Plant from my window, I worked there for 40 years. I understand now it's a indoor go-cart track, I find that a bitter pill. Actually pills are why I'm writing. I used to walk to the Rite-Aid on Hamilton Street. With that closing, I don't think I can walk out 7th St. to the old Sears. Forgive me Mayor, that's before your time in Allentown. The other Rite-Aid used to be Levines Fabrics, they bought it from Sears. The Army Navy store was across the parking lot. Anyway, back to my problem. Now I can't even catch the bus on Hamilton anymore to go visit my daughter in Catty. What have you done to me? My neighbor, a nice widow, tells me you gave that Mexican Restaurant lots of our money and they don't even pay their bills? Never ate there, what were you thinking? Anyway, sorry to bother you, I know you're a busy man, but I don't know where I will get my medicine from, and I'm upset. Sorry.

UPDATE: Mayor Pawlowski, forgive me again, but I'm no younger since I wrote this letter in 2008. Since then, that Mexican restaurant, I think it was Johnny Tomorrow, has closed. The drug store did move back to Hamilton Street, but they say that you're going to tear it down? They say you're going to tear down the whole block and build a hockey game. I get my prescriptions at the drug store, but my other things at Family Dollar, where will I shop? They haven't raised my Social Security in two years. Oh well, I guess you know what's best. When did we vote on that? I was sick last November. Thanks for listening. Mayor?

PhotoCredit: molovinsky

Aug 16, 2011

Allentown's Grant Programs

News media reported that the roof collapsed on 7th Street because of the heavy rain. Actually, the roof collapsed from neglect during a heavy rain. I don't know anything about the building, but I do know about roofs. Well, actually, I do know a little about the building. The operators of the hardware store received a substantial facade grant. Allentown has been very generous with grants to startup businesses, on both 7th Street and Hamilton Street. A number of these businesses closed within a year, but the building and facade remained improved for the landlord's benefit. This blog documented such grants on Hamilton Street, and The Morning Call later did the story. According to The Morning Call, the owners of the 7th Street building could not be contacted after the collapse this weekend, their phone numbers had been disconnected. I assume that they were more available during their tenant's grant process. I understand the temptation by elected officials and bureaucrats to want to dress up the downtown street fronts, especially with the taxpayer's money. Maybe the Facade Program should be renamed the Charade Program.

UPDATE: In theory the idea of subsidizing manufacturing facilities, potentially large employers, through tax incentives can be justified, although the devil often lies in the details. The idea of subsidizing small retail through grants is increasingly proving to be little more than short term delusion.

Aug 14, 2011

The Bicycles of Allentown

produced by Gary Ledebur, Netherfield Studios, Philadelphia
contains adult content

reproduced from March 15, 2010

Aug 11, 2011

City Mocks Neighborhood

I wanted to make you aware that the neighbor's garbage is piling up again out back and there is a notice on their door dated mid-June that it is illegal for anyone to be occupying the residence until the house passes inspection. Beyond the fact that they are still living in the house....Aug.5,11

When city inspector Ed Wilson first placed the vacate within 30 day notice on the house in early May, he stated that the occupant would be out by June. When I contacted him in mid June, he told me that the Lonnie Glase, another inspector, said that he would handle the case. Glase is an old family friend of the occupant, and thus began the abuse of the neighborhood.
This blog, and my calls and emails to Glase's superiors, resulted in Glase tagging the house again in June, but it was meant only as a stalling tactic to protect his friend, not enforce the law evenly. Ironically, most of the hundreds of orange tags throughout Allentown were placed and enforced by Glase.
Taxpayers will be glad to know that much of the initial garbage was removed at their expense by the city contractor. The lawn is being cut by the city contractor. The occupant was never the owner, and there is no chance of reimbursement to the city, generous of Glase. Although the occupant is a veteran, so are many of the neighbors whose property is being devalued by this blatant violation of equal enforcement of the law. This is the second installment of this post. Two months have passed. In this post I revealed the inspectors' names; the one whose authority was disregarded, and the second, who is ignoring the law. In the third installment, I will include the email correspondence with the chain of command.

Aug 10, 2011

A Sign of the Times

Apparently, while myself and another one hundred citizens were pleading with City Council during the summer of 09, the Mayor was ordering a bronze thank you card. This plaque graces the rebuilt Ott Street bridge, which bisects Allentown's Amusement Park, formally known as Cedar Beach Park. From the paddle boats on the eastern end, to the new exercise apparatus at the western end, step right up, there's something for everyone. Extra parking permitted on the grass, between the trees.

As a local history buff, I'm familiar with a few other plaques which cite the then mayor, but believe that this one, immortalizing a city council, may be the first. Of course this may be the first city council to never vote no. The amusement park is water under the bridge. Although we ordered every conceivable item available in park recreation catalogs, it's now time to save the icons of our park system, the WPA structures. Hopefully this council will want to add it's name to those monuments.

WPA Meeting September 6, 7:00pm Allentown Library, lower level. Public and City Council invited.

Aug 9, 2011

Growth Industry In Allentown

Yesterday I went to the Social Security Office, across from the prison, to discuss my retirement options. I was given number 199. In addition to retirement, Social Security also dispenses money for disability. I would say from the gray hair, there were
about three of us contemplating retirement, all the others were for disability. A few middle age men were carrying their fake canes. The canes aren't fake, it's the disabilities. I saw one such gentleman walk in from the parking lot, clearly the cane bore no weight, and was merely a prop. Most of the people waiting were quite young, in their twenties. Disability has been expanded to include mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, additive personality and anger management. I will say many of them did look angry to me. It was hard finding a parking space. Business also looked good at the prison. If Johnny Manana's had gotten these crowds....

this post first appeared November 18, 2008

Aug 7, 2011

Comment Spawns Post

Occasionally, a comment results in another post. Yesterday, my post on the Poverty Magnet received a comment from someone identifying himself as a former council member.
former councilman said...
Anon 2:13 - You are right. With the current debt and baby boomers costs to medicare and social security only the middle class has enough money to pay the bill. Molovinsky writes a blog entitled "Poverty as a Growth Industry" and wants to avoid posts on taxes. He is living somewhere else. Ledebur thinks the tax cuts for the rich are to blame. He is wrong. It is Defense, Medicare and Social Security costs, current and those looming in the out years, that will bring this country to its knees.

August 6, 2011 5:42 PM

It is not apparent to me that the federal tax rates are related to the local poverty magnet, but former and current council members certainly contribute to that dilemma.. Actually, all council members, with few exceptions, are part of the problem, starting with Heydt's first term. I know that the former councilman commenting yesterday is in the problem group. The few exceptions have either passed away, or have enough accountability to comment by name. Since the Heydt era, the Community Block Grants have been used to subsidize various social agencies, which attract more poverty to the city. (Previously they were used for infrastructure) Each year the agencies and city officials meet in the council chamber. Have you ever watched the fish feed at the trout hatchery? I assume that the commenter feels that former councilman connotes expertise. I have attended too many council meetings to share that assumption.

second in the Bastard Series

Aug 5, 2011

Poverty As A Growth Industry

When I ran as an independent candidate for mayor in 2005, I was shunned for my politically incorrect statements. The Morning Call declined to run my photograph, allow me to participate in their sponsored debate, or profile my candidacy. Because I said that Allentown had become a poverty magnet, the NAACP president asked me to prove that I was not a racist. Since that time the community has learned that I never was a racist, the term Poverty Magnet is used by no less than Alan Jennings, but poverty continues as a growth industry. While the NAACP president was questioning me, he never disclosed that he was employed by Jennings. If organizations such as Jennings' Community Action Committee of The Lehigh Valley just serve existing poverty, or help attract more to the valley, remains a taboo question. As a center city property manager for many years, who asked thousands of people why they moved here, I knew the answer. Putting aside the Poverty Magnet, one thing is for certain; poverty is a growth industry. Jennings and other poverty entrepreneurs would have you believe that they alone provide for the poor among us. Actually the city, county and state have thousands of employees and millions of dollars for that purpose. Jennings' organization became so large, that when he complains of one cutback, another branch is receiving grants. Three years into the great recession, a state sponsored job training program is finally cutting back. Considering the want ads have been non-existent, who have they been training for what? Jennings will go on. Years ago Habitat for Humanity built a few houses on N. 5th Street. Although the newspaper article stated the new owners put in sweat equity, in fact, they could hardly get near the place. Different congregations were literally lined up and waiting to work, they needed a coordinator to keep it from being too crowded and dangerous. There is always a corporation or a church looking to feel good about itself. Occasionally, there will be a bastard like me, to question what's really going on.

this post was written with a grant from the Council of Bastards

Aug 4, 2011

N. 6th Street

Allentown has just designated the neighborhood west of the Jordan to 7th Street, and between Linden and Tilghman Streets, as Jordan Heights. The area encompasses the Old Fairgrounds Historic District. Allentown's old fairground, in the years between 1852-1888, was in the vicinity of 6th and Liberty. It was an open space, as is the current fairground at 17th and Chew Streets. When my grandparents moved to 301 Jordan Street, it was a modern house, just built in 1895. The suburbs then were between Jordan and 7th. The Jewish Community Center was built on the corner of 6th and Chew, today known as Alliance Hall.
I wish the Jordan Heights initiative well. There's a lot of history in those 24 square blocks, and hopefully much future.

excerpted from a July, 2010 post
photo N 6th St., 1949

Aug 3, 2011

A Memory Loss

I believe Milton Carrero is the new health reporter for The Morning Call. I suppose new is a relevant term. He's been there for six months now, by current Morning Call standards that might make him an old timer. He's been doing some good health stories about people, he might also consider one about the lack of institutional memory at the paper. Yesterday, his story about a caring Emmaus hairstylist, Shirley Klotz, was touching. She made a special effort for a client who lost her hair from chemotherapy. What might not be known, is that this hairstylist was also news years ago, while operating a salon on 15th Street in Allentown. At that time, she intentionally put herself between a client and an armed robber who entered her shop, getting shot for her good deed. The shop was directly across the street from Roy Afflerbach's house, then mayor of Allentown. The trauma chased her and her customers out of Allentown, to Emmaus. It also changed the perception of the neighborhood, from being away from the problem zone, to being part of it. Mr. Carrero not only interviewed a caring person recently, but a genuine hero.

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.

Aug 1, 2011

Saving Our Treasures

Yesterday, I had an amazing experience. I decided to research the WPA items at the Lehigh Valley Historical Society. Although I found that particular documentation lacking, out of nowhere, an elderly lady handed me a photo from her pocketbook; a picture of the Boat Landing she had taken with a Kodak Brownie camera in the early 1940's. She had the picture with her because she had shown it to several friends who also lamented the loss of our icons.

Today I went to the park to photograph the remaining element of that structure, the steps, to write a post I intended to title "Lost Treasures". Despite my fear of ticks and other organic matter, I proceeded down the steps and pushed the bushes aside. There to my surprise, I found that the retaining walls were mostly still there.

Emboldened by this discovery, I went over to the other side of the creek and worked my way through the riparian buffer; there to my utter amazement I saw that the curved creek walls of the landing have withstood the years of time. Despite decades of neglect by our Park Department, I believe that a half dozen people equipped with a few clippers could unveil a lost treasure. There is a few large trees which have grown on the landing, and there are missing stones, but most of it still exists, waiting only for a few urban archaeologists with an appreciation of what once adorned this park. Will you join me and help restore this gift from our past?

UPDATE: The above post was written in October of 2009. Although I succeeded in organizing a small group of volunteers who would indeed reveal the steps, I've had less success with the Park Department and Trexler Trust in regard to preserving our WPA monuments. Please join me at an upcoming meeting for the Friends Of Allentown's WPA Heritage.

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 7:00pm Allentown Library, Lower Level Conference Room