Oct 22, 2015

2nd and Hamilton


Up to the mid 1960's,  before Allentown started tinkering with urban redevelopment, lower Hamilton Street still teemed with businesses. The City had grown from the river west,  and lower Hamilton Street was a vibrant area.  Two train stations and several rail lines crossed the busy thoroughfare.  Front, Ridge and Second were major streets in the first half of the twentieth century.  My grandparents settled on the 600 block of 2nd Street in 1895, along with other Jewish immigrants from Russia and Lithuania.  As a boy, I worked at my father's meat market on Union Street.  I would have lunch at a diner, just out of view in the photo above.  The diner was across from the A&P,  set back from the people shown on the corner.  A&P featured bags of ground to order 8 O'Clock coffee, the Starbucks of it's day.
please click on photo
photocredit:Ed Miller, 1953
reprinted from November 2011

5 comments:

Chris said...

Great picture. My Italian great-grandparents settled in Allentown in the late 1910s. My PA Dutch great-grandparents came here after the Civil War and the Johnstown Flood. They lived near the WPA monuments on MLK (formerly Lawrence Street) that you have been working to save. As we've talked about, they lived in the neighborhood under/near the 8th Street bridge and were pushed out by urban redevelopment, which sought to displace many working-class families of all backgrounds. I don't think this painting is actually by Walter Baum but by one of his students. Shows homes under the bridge.

http://news.psu.edu/photo/287983/2013/09/17/lv-8th-st-bridge-baum

Here's a more realistic but still impressionist Baum-school version of the same view:

http://bridgehunter.com/photos/17/10/171093-L.jpg

michael molovinsky said...

chris@10:13, i believe that the second painting is by barringer(sp), also of the baum school. i have also done a post on the lawrence street redevelopment, which i will post soon, as a followup. although these posts are reprints of my earlier posts, i have new readers, who probably haven't seen them.

Chris said...

I appreciate what you are doing for the WPA legacy and these forgotten neighborhoods. Glad you are reposting older pieces to that end, too. And you're right about Berringer. Not many of us are lucky enough to have paintings like these out there in the world of "the old neighborhood."

Bernie O'Hare said...

I still love A & P coffee Your reference to it as the Starbucks of its day is very apt.

Dreaming of Justice said...

The A&P grocers in our area were very run down, just like the IGAs were.