Jul 28, 2016

Allentown's Sad State of Affairs

If you told someone several years ago that $1Billion would be spent trying to revive a couple blocks on Hamilton Street,  they would be shocked upon visiting.  Take your best shot, even during the noon lunch break,  and it's just dead in the water. I suppose that on the weekend a few restaurants have some traffic, but there's absolutely no vibe.  I think back when Pawlowski hired the slogan company. City Without Limits.  I guess City With No Vibe wouldn't be positive enough, but that's what it is.

Except for the bank accounts of a few men, it certainly was a poor return on our state tax dollars.  However, you must understand that except for a few bloggers, and their readers,  nobody much cares.  Because of this apathy we have a state house that only changes from retirement, not elections.  Because of this apathy we have a one party city government. Because of this apathy, those of you who do care must read your news from the likes of me, rather than a real newspaper.

photograph of 7th and Hamilton, back in the day


Jamie Kelton said...

It's not all that difficult to figure out. What we had was a retailing district of stores selling the products that people needed each and every day for their lives. We had shoe stores, clothing stores, appliance stores, furniture stores 5 & 10 Stores... things that sold what people could afford and wanted.

What we have now are government-build (or financed) buildings that at best is nothing but an office park of businesses that employ people. The office workers come in the mornings, maybe have lunch at one of the restaurants, then leave at 5pm. That's about it. For example they took down the National Penn sign and put up BB&T. Whoopee. That's the big news out of Hamilton Street. Not a new store like the Upper Story or Speedy's which people have an interest in going to.

There are office parks like this all over the country, usually located in the suburbs. Its not where people go to except to earn a paycheck.

And they cost a lot less to build than Allentown's.

Geoff said...

Allentown was more than a retailing district. It was the headquarters for a number of large and medium sized firms and the business that directly supported their efforts. The wealth that those firms created, not least because of the employees who resided in Allentown, is what created the shopping district--not the other way around.

Allentown has tried fancy name brands this time around and they fail for the same reason.

Fashion has changed and downtown living is more in vogue, which gives Allentown a chance. However, the kinds of businesses that Allentown used to support are either gone entirely or are done in a remote and centralized manner from other metropolitan areas--things like banking are particularly prone to corporate takeover.

Time for a strategy to see where Allentown can fit into the broader regional economy and where downtown working/living provides a real attraction and advantage for workers.

george schaller said...