Jun 22, 2018

Trolley Demise In Allentown



A local young urbanist speculated that automobiles put the end to trolleys in the Lehigh Valley. He was half right, actually it was the Mad Men from General Motors. In the early 1950's, Americans were still a one car family, even in the prosperous Lehigh Valley. The mass transit system was still full of the other family members, still using the system for work, shopping and school. Between the late 1940's and 1953, Hamilton Street had both trolleys and buses. In the late 40's, General Motors wined and dined transit officials all over the country, exhorting the benefits of their buses. Shown above is a Lehigh Valley Transit work car, towing a trolley to Bethlehem Steel to be scrapped. The photograph was taken in 1952 on St. John Street, heading toward the Fountain Hill route. In June of 1953, the last trolley would run on Hamilton Street.

reprinted for September of 2011

2 comments:

Geoff said...

If there's anything we've learned--once we destroy this kind of infrastructure for "cost savings" we end up paying triple once we regret it and have to rebuild it.

Brent said...

As energy costs rise, the economics of a streetcar system which extends into the suburban townships become more and more favorable. Also traffic congestion stress can be addressed in some way by the reduction in automobile commuting.

The growth in the area is largely in the Townships anyway, Allentown's growth is extremely limited due to it's rigid boundaries. The only real growth we've seen over the past 70 years has been the conversion of older, large single family homes into multi-family apartments. If the NIZ does become an economic growth pole and generates a large number of jobs, then the importance of a real mass-transit system from the suburbs becomes more and more justifiable.