Jul 1, 2015

Allentown, Not Much For History

Once you go a mile west beyond Bethlehem, there's not much interest in history.  There's also not much interest in art or architecture.  Boast as you will about Allentown's new NIZ buildings, but there won't be any awards given there for architecture.  The new waterfront NIZ district will remove the historic LVRR rail tracks.  The local historical society concentrates on shows about Abraham Lincoln, with no interest in local topics. The Allentown park department actually encourages the disregard to it's original plans and structures.  We're being led by people who seemed more concerned with their own future, be it in real estate or politics.

For years my efforts have concentrated on trying to save those historical structures unique to our area.  Although I may occasionally still succumb to that compulsion in the future,  hopefully, most of my protest will now be limited to posts on this blog.  I pleaded to no avail with too many commissions with predetermined agendas.  Let the less disillusioned plead to the deaf ears behind those dais.

Shown above is the former LVRR railroad station on Hamilton Street, which was demolished in the early 1960's.  The existing train station was the New Jersey Central.  Allentown never met a unique older building that it couldn't wait to tear down.

14 comments:

THE observer said...

The exists a fine line betwixt history and progress..........

Anonymous said...

"The Allentown park department actually encourages the disregard to it's original plans and structures."

I would use the word "disregard" for the way the city's parks are maintained. What park department allows disgusting garbage trucks to park adjacent to a walking bridge? Tonight supposedly a child's race takes place in Lehigh Parkway. As has been the policy of this park department, vehicles will park on the open grasses. The past days of storms and heavy rains have softened that grass. Go today folks and look at the beauty of that grass and stop by tomorrow.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:27, history doesn't impede progress, there's certainly room, especially in allentown, for both. how ironic that we tear down everything here over 100 years old, then want to visit europe to see things 1000 and 2000 years old. between the greedy and their apologists, it's hard to defend our history.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree on the new architectural choices made downtown. For structures that are claimed to have cost so much to build, the evidence can't be seen on the outside. I never thought buildings Butz helped to produce showed much enthusiasm for design and that opinion continues with what we've seen so far. The new structures look like dormitories on a state college campus, even including fake brick facades. Nothing of compelling visual interest.

Does anyone actually look over the construction bills being submitted and evaluate the true value for money being spent? I think Mr. Reilly is correct, his buildings aren't worth nearly as much as WE'RE paying for them!

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Just to the north of the new American Parkway bridge is the old New Jersey Central bridge that used to bring rail traffic to Allentown as well. It's been abandoned since the early 1960s, but it still remains.

Anonymous said...

The developers also want to tear down the Zollinger-Harned Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, for another unremarkable glass and steel building so Talon Energy doesn't leave the NIZ.

Anonymous said...

"...how ironic that we tear down everything here over 100 years old, then want to visit europe to see things 1000 and 2000 years old."

You don't need to go to Europe to find people traveling to see something historic.
A ten-minute drive to Bethlehem might enlighten those who occupy Allentown City Hall.

Unfortunately, few in City Hall seem to have ever taken that drive, or learned to appreciate the historic assets they have in their own city.

Of course, Bethlehem's leaders developed a plan and stuck to it over several decades. Allentown has been far less fortunate in terms of the quality of their leaders, who somehow believe that being put on the largest municipal welfare program in the state as an accomplishment.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:09, the train trestle remains, but not as a result of any historic pro-action. the assets of former railroads remain because of the complexity of mergers and bankruptcies.

Anonymous said...

@Fred Windish, actual construction costs are never publicized. For example, the last published figure for construction costs was $177 million. Does anyone believe that's the actual final figure?

We are getting treated like mushrooms here - kept in the dark and covered in manure.

Mike another fun one going on is all the chits being called to fund Pawlowski's Senate campaign. Boyle, Northstar, Jaindl, Reilly, etc. are working their lists hard, especially anyone who did or may work on NIZ projects. The very clear message - you want work here? You pay Pawlowski, and we will track how much you do.

After all, they have to return the favor too.

Bethlehem Native said...

Actually, the LVRR station was demolished in 1972 when the Hamilton St. Jordan Creek bridge was widened (or replaced with a wider bridge). But many sources erroneously specify 1962 as the year of demolition.

Anonymous said...

Agree 10:07, the potential for abuse of public funds here is extremely high. The entire scheme was developed by a small group of cozy friends who seem to be getting all the action. Outsiders are left with too many hoops to jump through.

We really haven't seen much evidence of independent, knowledgeable oversight. If someone on the NIZ Board is handling that duty, or a firm the Board hires, there's good reason to be skeptical of the numbers. Nothing new in today's America, I suppose.

But, in keeping with today's topic of structures, I "guess they don't build them like that anymore."

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Tearing up the rest of the Corman line makes no sense to me.

You hear one day about how we need industry in Allentown and we need rail to serve it to keep trucks off the roads.

The next day you hear about how we need roads and trails to serve the Waterfront new glut of office space and apartments. We want .gov to spend thirty million dollars to do it too.

Keep in mind it's the same people saying this stuff. Just on different days.

michael molovinsky said...

@1:37, yes, it's all written in pencil, so that the rules can change to best suit the developers. it's amusing to read that the allentown planning commission passed this or that, as if their rubber stamp even deserves mention. ironically, perhaps the only rail served business in allentown is being forced off the waterfront to accommodate the new offices and apartments, but the building will be retained to harvest the cigarette tax loophole.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed how the Allentown Preservation League actually sells what is left after buildings are torn down. There is a need for real preservation coupled with adequate planning