Mar 27, 2012

Urban Renewal

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.

reprinted from June 2011


Anonymous said...

These administrators are incapable of learning from history - and we are all doomed to repeat that same history.

michael molovinsky said...

the following comment was submitted to this post

Anonymous said...
Another I hate Allentown blog post by South Whitehall resident Molovinsky. He fails to mention all the new development as usual. For Molovinsky it is 1950/60's or bust. It is unfortunate that you live so far in the past.

ironpigpen said...

Say Anon 9:32,

What is the web address of YOUR blog(s)?

I would like to read YOUR material on Chairman Pawlowski's magnificent $ 160.0 million dollar PALACE OF SPORT.



doug_b said...

After living in Minneapolis for 30 years, and returning to Allentown, it was obvious the impact of the loss of good paying jobs.

I see three large problems:

#1 You've been 'occupied' by takers. Low socio-economic, less educated. They are not going to contribute to the 'quality of life.' These folks aren't going to rebuild A-town.

#2. All the tiny row homes - from Front St - to 15th gotta go. They are remnants from a different century - middle class people are not going to buy them - they are going to be (are?) section 8 housing.

#3. Lack of middle class jobs.

It's sad to think the 'gubment' can spend it's way into prosperity by building entertainment complexes - sports / casinos / theaters - what is the net output? Nothing tangible. Rather they rely on people spending money - the very thing the people of Allentown lack.

Minneapolis has had it's share of failures. The latest is 'Block E'. 10 - 15 yrs ago Mpls city government razed a city block in downtown - and built a monstrosity of an 'entertainment complex' - drug dealers / riff raft hung out / a suburban stock broker was shot and killed on the sidewalk.

Same thing happend to an indoor mall called City Center. Thugs / trash hung out there - until they drove out the customers, and all the stores closed. It's now used as a throughfare to walk from one parking ramp to another.

Block E is now completely empty. Read this from the Minneapolis 'Red Star' newspaper

Another similarity between our two cites are the Minneapolis Red Star and the Morning Call. The Red Star does no investigative reporting, no critical thought, ignores issues it doesn't like, and supports every liberal tax and spend idea.

Anonymous said...


Wow. What can I say? Your assessment, while brutal, is spot-on. It takes the eye of an outsider to recognize it and to articulate it truthfully.

I must say though, that the current mayor and his business buds see exactly what you see. Mike can tell you that it all began by "identifying" the problem as "too many poor folks", then removing bus stops along Hamilton, Phase two? Clear a big troubled block of the types of businesses that cater to these people. Phase 3? Replace the block with stuff that these people cannot afford. However, by not addressing Allentown's root poverty issues with education and living-wage jobs, all the mayor and his business buds are doing is building a moat around a castle. Hamilton, Seventh, Linden, Eighth becomes an Emerald City, a showplace, surrounded by blight and unimaginable poverty and failure. Their plan is to further divide the city into 99% v. 1%. The 99ers are outside, peering through the windows of the opulent hospital/hotel/restaurant/parking/
arena/office complex, their snotty nose prints etched upong the gleaming e-glass windows, like hungry peasants, while the 1%ers feast upon sumptuous dinners, partaking of first class accommodations and entertainment, before zooming back to their tony neighborhoods, sated and imagining that they have made a difference in transforming Allentown.

Good luck.


michael molovinsky said...

vor, it's even more complex, because the mayor was a big factor in the poverty magnet. as director of the alliance for building communities, and now as mayor. allentown continues to divide up the community block grants to various agencies which survive because of a constant stream of new poor to the city. people are confused as to my dual identity; claiming that there is a poverty magnet, but then opposing the forced gentrification of hamilton street. it's quite simple. i oppose programs that attract more poverty to the area, but support the rights of all citizens who are living here now.

Anonymous said...

I understand.

It's like when people sit on a park bench feeding the pigeons, then complain about "those pigeons".

Allentown's woes are not unique. Northern, eastern, mid-to-large cities basically suffer from the same ills. Allentown came to this a little later than many others. Other cities that I know became poor and destitute in the 15-20 years immediately following WWII. Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Harrisburg, Chester, a whole bunch of New Jersey and New England manufacturing cities, all lost population, middle-class citizens and jobs resulting in gentrification that Allentown now enjoys. The irony that the current mayor contributed in large part to this does not escape most of your more astute followers. If we dare question the mayor's plan we run a risk of being called negative or worse. For what it's worth, the vast majority of posters here understand what's goin' on. The few who are doing cartwheels about the super-block are likely anonymous cheer leaders, who either work for the mayor or who stand to benefit from this attempt at "urban removal".

Good luck.


Anonymous said...

speaking of learning from the past...I cannot shake loose from the foreboding thoughts I have as I recall the history of the site for the proposed hockeyhospitalparkingrestaurarena.

In 1994, the earth opened wide and swallowed the newest, latest crown jewel. Anyone recall that that building (Corporate Plaza) was specifically built to entice a NYC insurance company? Then, instead of moving to Allentown, they went to North Carolina? Bet they thanked their lucky stars they made that move!

Did the city ever sue the builder for not sinking the pylons deep enough as to rest the structure on bedrock?

Like VOR says - "good luck!"