Jun 13, 2012

Weigh In On 1948


1948 was a good year for Allentown and the Lehigh Valley. Mack Trucks, Lehigh Structural Steel, General Electric and almost all factories were going full steam. President Truman stopped by to give a speech. The Allentown Cardinals played the first game in their new ballpark, Breadon Field. The baby boom was going full tilt:



The school district unveiled Lehigh Parkway and Midway Manor Elementary Schools and the new professional style football stadium. Donald Hock was Mayor, and although the last beer was being brewed on Lawrence Street at Daeufer Brewery, the Paddock joined many new restaurants opening that year. Photo's from Dorney Park in 1948.

reprinted from July 2009

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Always good stuff MM
Seems like ancient times now.

Anonymous said...

Allentown,it's parks,downtown,politics,culture have not hit bottom yet. So sad .

Anonymous said...

In just two generations, a lively city ruined.
Absolutely remarkable.

Yet Easton, Bethlehem,with their own issues,yes,have done so,so much better?

How?

Anonymous said...

Michael---an over simplication perhaps---but i
must ask: what was the tipping point?
the mall? something else? what do you think? when did it all hit its peek and begin the long sad slide ?

thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:05 AM said...
"what was the tipping point?"

In one man's opinion, there is never a single tipping point. I have heard many call Allentown a "poverty magnet". Fair enough. Most declining cities do not gain in poulation, but Allentown's population growth (if you can believe census numbers) between 2000 and 2010 is hard to explain. But if Allentown is "growing", it is also growing poorer. I think the school district numbers hold the key. From free lunches to drop out rates, the measure of Allentown is that it is a city populated by poor minorities, who will soon be the majority of the overall population. Homeownership is well below 50% and trending down; there are awful concentrations of the poor renters within three blocks of the downtown. People who traditionally make a difference as voters, role models, investors and stake holders (the mostly white middle class) are being discouraged or, are simply giving up on Allentown and are moving. There is evidence that they don't even leave the county or the state, just Allentown. Their places are being taken by more poor minorities who flock here for some ungodly reason. The cycle of poverty and failure becomes a cultural reality. The very poor people who need to participate never participate. They seem satisfied with an endless future of "just getting by". The remaining property owning tax payers are required to support a school system in danger of collapse. The municipal services, dependent upon tax payers is overburdened.

Welcome to Camden North.


VOR

Anonymous said...

VOR, why not in Easton or Bethlehem?

Anonymous said...

10:46 vor
that's what happened. but how? why?
the first arriving wave of new poor came and grew as the downtown sickened and started to die.

mayors,city fathers,business leaders large and small????

Livingston club leadership,asleep?

conversion of big houses into many units?
Lehigh Valley mall? Hess's bugging out?
Mack pulling out? what?

how did it fall so far so fast?

from the beauty that mm shows to the brunt of a 2nd rate pop song joke to this in 40 years.

there had to be some key moments,no?

please,how?

michael molovinsky said...

I know something about the poverty magnet term, I introduced it to Allentown in about 1998. At that time there were no less than five low income housing agencies, competing for fresh bodies. Pawlowski operated one of the biggest at the time. In addition to the agencies, there were a half dozen social agencies setting up new tenants with move-in money. during this period, thousands of people moved to allentown with no job, and limited prospects here, beyond essentially free, and then inexpensive housing. elaborating upon this reality was controversial, and opened one up to accusations of racism. since that time my position has changed somewhat. It has become too late to warn about the consequences of a poverty magnet; we are now a poor town. how to realistically manage a poor town is now the question. Is it realistic to think that a hockey arena, office building and hotel will Transform allentown? I think not. I offer my prescription to the problem in small doses, here on this blog.

michael molovinsky said...

@12:21 there are many myths about the fall of allentown. over and over one hears that dadonna invited the poor to move here. the migration to allentown was the consequence of good intentions by too many, as i explained above. downtown houses were converted into apartments, for the most part, after WW2, when the american dream turned into a small single family house, aka alton park, etc. the converted apartments existed since the 50's, but the tenant base was different then. they were occupied, for the most part, by singles, or childless couples. hamilton street started dying in the mid 60's, with the beginning of mall shopping, like downtowns everywhere. although i have opinions about the demise of industry, i have no special knowledge, and will leave that to others.

Anonymous said...

MM BY'89 it was gone! WTF? So quick,20,30 years!
The downtown was gone when the silly canopies were installed. THAT was a response? We have not had a mayor lead in,what,50 years?40 anyway?
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL!
The whole place.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous year, 1948, Comrade Molovinsky.

The (long gone) Cleveland Barons won the 1948 Calder Cup, symbol of American Hockey League supremacy.

The Central Sports Club of the Red Army (CSKA) Moscow was crowned the prestigous champion of the U.S.S.R. elite league for the first of what would be 32 times.

I remain disappointed by your obstructionist efforts, Comrade, to thwart courageous Chairman Pawlowski's transformative Palace of Sport construction and wish you would just 'get on board' with the concept of a team in a 69th different city for the now 76-year-old history of the American Hockey League.

Shaibu!

VIKTOR TIKHONOV

guy williams said...

Allentown has suffered the same as all the other medium size rust belt cities from the 60s on.

guy williams said...

my theory is that american industries did well up to the 60s while rebuilding europe.Many customers.Once rebuilt they became competitors.Then cheap labor from japan,then taiwan,then korea now china left us hard to compete.Even in our own country jobs moved south creating mega cities atlanta,charlotte,dallas,houston leaving us behind in the rust belt.Without jobs we are screwed.God only knows what the best solutions are but we cant stop trying to find them.

Anonymous said...

Seems Allentown has always done what appears expedient at the moment. Acting without thinking. The consequences accumulate over time and the mounting levels of unmanageability become the issue themselves. They create a negative economic and social synergy that only deepens as new issues emerge, as they will, in the management of a mid level city. Allentown is always covering it's butt for a rash of premature decisions made yesterday. God only knows where this current plan was hatched with the arena. It is a grotesque distortion of what needs to be done in order to revitalize a "rust belt" city. I would agree many of Allentown's issues rest in its increasing level of poverty irrespective of race. While attracting "the poor" to Allentown might have been an astute political move to build constituency and bring dollars to the city, you need to do something with them once they get here. Allentown did not and consequently this ended up in exerting even more extreme pressure on an aged and already fragile infrastructure. Crime is rampant and there is a division in attitudes among many of those "planning" Allentown's future and the emergence and increasing preponderance of the urban ghetto mentality. This, the UGM, perspective is "Now" oriented and cares little about planning for the future. Allentown is simply a victim of it's own ill advised self advisement and aggrandizement i.e. a legend in it's own mind as dictated by whatever politicians were pandering for their personal fortunes and were in control at the time. Pawlowski and Reilly are simply more of the same. People have grown weary of the shenanigans and attitudes toward the city have deteriorated in general. All of the NIZ lawsuits are an example of this emerging point of view. People outside of the city also have grown tired of all these silly little games and when it moves into their neighborhood they revolt.

Anonymous said...

Someone said: " God only knows where this current plan was hatched with the arena."

I am reminded of the "Put a tuxedo on a pig, but it's still a pig" adage. An arena, hotel, super block will not change Allentown because of fundamental problems the city has, but I will reiterate...who gives a rat's ass? The issue to me will always be, it's your city, do with it what you want, but do not use or risk my money!

VOR

Anonymous said...

Guy Williams:

Great theory, but sosmeone asked about other places like Bethlehem. Here is a city which between 1980 and 2003 lost its identity, largest tax producer, largest employer, largest user of water, etc... Slowly, over a gradual period from about 1960, city fathers partnered with business people to build business parks. Those fledgling industries support thousands of jobs. Bethlehem started planning for a no steel world by reinventing itself as a service/tourism economy. Hospitals, education, technology, and tourism and service are the anchors of a new Bethlehem economy. Is the answer "Bethlehem leaders are smarter?" Or, "Private/public sector leaders work together in Bethlehem for the good of the community?"

How does A-Town compare?

Anyone??

VOR

guy williams said...

The big difference i beleve was Lehigh U and The Christmas City identity for bethlehem.They had something to focus on.Many students close to downtown,Their families as tourists helped keep the Hotel Beth and the downtown alive.Even in the worst times they spent thousands to decorate the city for christmas.Streetscaping was also maintained to pretty up the city for visitors and then of course Musicfest.Allentown on the other hand was never lucky to focus on an identity.Its sad that we cant create an identity with our most valuable asset the parks.Thats why MMs work on its behalf is so important.Some will even say that allentown never had a great image.According to my father the reason Lee Iacocca never said much about allentown either in his best seller or in interviews is that he hated it here.Another story another time.