Apr 13, 2016

When 6th Street Was West Allentown


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 until about twenty 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 and retitled from 2014

photo: Opening of Jewish Community Center, 1928, 6th and Chew Streets.  Now Alliance Hall

3 comments:

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

I remember sometime in the early 1950's, someone made a movie in west park, it was a kids movie and I was in the movie. I don't know what the movie was or what happened to it, I was probably around 6 years old at the time. Just thought I would share that with you.

michael molovinsky said...

ray@9:05, i'm familiar with the movie. it was produced by traveling company, which would promote kids to be in it, and then attend a paid viewing with their families. i recall that the kids hunt for someone "kidnapped" by a villain.

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

You are right , I still remember that plot, I don't remember what year, but I remember being in the movie. Actually it was a good idea, someone might want to try that out again.