Jun 11, 2015

Jordan Heights

In 1903, the 600 block of 2nd Street housed one Russian Jewish family after another. They built a small synagogue there, which was kept open till about ten years ago. My grandfather, who then worked at a cigar factory, had just saved enough to bring his parents over from the old country. They lived in an old house at 617 N. 2nd. The current house at that location was built in 1920. By the time my father was born in 1917, the youngest of five children, they had moved to the suburbs just across the Jordan Creek.

My grandfather lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. He butchered in a barn behind the house. The house is still there, 301 Jordan, the barn is gone. He would deliver the meat with a horse and wagon. On the weekends, when the family wanted to visit friends, the horse insisted on doing the meat market route first. Only after he stopped in front of the last market on the route, would he permit my grandfather to direct him. excerpt from My grandfather's Horse, May 13, 2008
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 Jordan Street it was a modern house, just built in 1895. Many of the Jewish families moved to the suburbs 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.

reprinted from June of 2010


Dreaming of Justice said...

We need an update on what sort of success this initiative has had. Maybe what people need to see is some feedback when things actually bear fruit. I'd be interested to read much more about this section of town!

michael molovinsky said...

dreaming@7:33, interesting question, to which there are two answers. ask community development committee of lehigh valley, who got to "implement" the grant, and they will tell you blah, blah, and blah.

what they really got to do was pay salaries of their administrators and bend arms for more grants. that particular one was a feel good donation from wachovia, which has since been absorbed by wells fargo. the mentioned steering committee head, who lived in the neighborhood, has moved to bethlehem. pawlowski fired his wife as director of the redevelopment authority. to find concrete signs of progress for the $630k, bring your glasses.

this was meant to be one my personal history posts, but in allentown, politics often merges with any current observation.

Anonymous said...

It is ironic that Karen Beck Pooley would have been exactly the type of development professional needed to manage the efforts that I believe are intended for Jordan Heights. She is a highly intelligent individual who emphasizes revitalization of neighborhoods using techniques appropriate for the scale and traditions of an area. She is currently running for school director in the Bethlehem Area School District and perhaps Allentown's loss will end up being Bethlehem's gain.

Anonymous said...

The picture tells the tales of years past on the approaching edited out news worthy weekend¿ Today those approaching are not haveing there hands outreached to become one¿

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