May 17, 2022

Lehigh County Controller Problem

The Morning Call headline says that Lehigh County has an eviction problem. Actually, what Lehigh County has is a controller problem, a county government problem and a newspaper problem.

Eviction should be of no concern to the county, and I fault the commissioners for allotting funds for tenant legal costs.  These funds were recommended by Controller Mark Pinsley, who has now recommended that they be increased ten fold.  Pinsley is a perpetual candidate for higher office.  Tenants do not pay county real estate taxes, but their landlords do. However, meeting their debt service, which includes real estate taxes, is dependent upon a cash flow...which means having tenants who pay rent. 

Just as it is irresponsible for the county commissioners to be facilitating Pinsley's campaign strategy, it is likewise partisan of the newspaper to be reporting this scheme as proper government.  The reporter doesn't have the institutional knowledge to see Pinsley as the opportunist he has always been,* but the editors and commissioners** should know better.

*new reporter from out of town, only on job one month

** with one Republican, and appointed at that, the commissioners seem to be dancing to Pinsley's political tune

May 16, 2022

Morning Call Blues

On Friday afternoon the Morning Call staff held a walkout and rally at the Arts Park, not to be confused with the Arts Walk or the perp walk. In attendance were regional elected officials and hopefuls to express their solidarity.  Allentown Mayor Tuerk expressed dismay that the Morning Call no longer has a newsroom. 

This blogger has long expressed dismay from the beginning of the NIZ, that the Morning Call building, although across the street from the rest of NIZ zone map, was included in the zone anyway. So, it was of no surprise to this blogger when Reilly's City Center Realty gobbled up the Morning Call building. Although the politicians present at the rally praised the need for the public to have a hardy Fourth Estate, coverage of corruption wasn't mentioned. Long before the current Alden Global ownership of the Morning Call, there was no scrutiny by the newspaper of a former mayor's decade long corruption. Long before Alden, and since, there is little scrutiny of the NIZ. 

I'm grateful that we still have our local paper. I wish the individual Morning Call staff members well, and care about their continued employment security.  As to their demands for gender parity and diversity, my concern is for the lack of probing in local journalism. For that shortfall I blame the local management, rather than the reporters per se. Their management has always seemed reluctant to disturb the status quo of the local establishment. For example, I wanted them to report on why Wehr's Dam languished? I wanted them to report on how a decaying brewery building already has had two different subsidized owners under the NIZ? 

photocredit: By an aging blogger, who nevertheless manages to report on the rot in the little apple called Allentown every weekday for the last fifteen years.

May 13, 2022

Fairview Cemetery, An Allentown Dilemma

The condition of Fairview Cemetery has been in decline for decades.  It first caught my attention in 1997, when I began hunting for the grave of a young woman who died in 1918. 

By 1900, Fairview was Lehigh Valley's most prestigious cemetery.  It would become the final resting place of Allentown's most prominent citizens, including Harry Trexler, John Leh, Jack Mack and numerous others.  Despite my status as a dissident chronicler of local government and a critic of the local press,  my postings caught the attention of a previous editor at the Morning Call, whose own grandmother is buried at Fairview.  While the paper did a story on my efforts in 2008,  and I did manage to coordinate a meeting between management and some concerned citizens,  any benefit to the cemetery's condition was short lived.

Internet search engines have long arms. In the following years I would receive messages from various people upset about conditions at the cemetery.  A few years ago, Tyler Fatzinger became interested in the cemetery, and took it upon himself to start cleaning up certain areas. I suggested to Taylor that he start a facebook page, so that concerned citizens and distressed relatives might connect.  Once again the situation caught the paper's attention, and another story appeared in 2019.  Tyler Fatzinger was recently informed by the cemetery operator that he was trespassing, and must cease from his efforts to improve the cemetery.

Why would both the cemetery and city establishments reject help, and discourage shining a light on this situation? Orphan cemeteries are a problem across the country. An orphan cemetery is an old cemetery no longer affiliated with an active congregation or a funded organization.  These cemeteries are often large, with no concerned descendants or remaining funds.  While perpetual care may have been paid by family decades earlier,  those funds in current dollars are woefully short.

In Fairview's case, the current management operates a crematorium and also conducts new burials on the grounds. Funds from the previous management were supposedly not passed forward.  While the Trexler Trust maintains Harry Trexler's grave, and a few other plots are privately maintained,  there understandably is no desire to take responsibility for the entire sixty acre cemetery. The current operator provides minimal care to the cemetery,  with even less for those sections toward the back.  While the cemetery grass may only be cut twice a season,  that's still more care than a true "orphan cemetery" would receive.  Some of the new burials appear to be on old plots, owned by other families, but unused for many, many decades, and on former areas designated as pathways between those plots. There seems to be no regulatory oversight. Recently, both state senator Pat Browne and the Orloski Law firm have acted in behalf of the cemetery operator.

While family members may be exasperated by the neglect,  local government does not seem eager to adopt either the problem or the expense of Fairview Cemetery.

reprinted from June of 2021

ADDENDUM MAY 13, 2022: Tyler Fatzinger reminds us of Flag Day and other updates and news at his group page- Revive Fairview Cemetery

May 12, 2022

Weeping For The Allentown Park System

When Harry Trexler commissioned Frank Meehan of Philadelphia to design the Allentown parks, Meehan was considered the leading landscape architect in America.  It was because of Meehan that Allentown was shovel ready when the WPA started in the mid 1930's.  It was because of Meehan that our park system became the envy of cities everywhere.  

Throughout the park system he planted Weeping Willows thirty feet apart along the creeks. Their shallow, spreading root system provided the Little Lehigh, Cedar and Jordan Creeks erosion protection for almost a century. It provided both fish and fisherman beauty and shade along the creek banks.

Move ahead seventy five years, and in 2006 the from out of town new mayor Pawlowski combined the park and recreation departments, and hired a recreation major for department head. The new director turned over many park management decisions to the Wildlands Conservancy. The Wildlands introduced riparian buffers, even though the storm sewer system is piped directly into the creeks. As the Willows neared their lifespan and started dying out, they were not replaced. Rather, other trees were planted, back from the creeks, doubling down on the buffer concept.

We now realize that the creek banks are eroding, and that the buffers are incubators for invasive species. It is now the department's intention to seek outside consultants for recommendations. Rather than go outside again for advice, they should go back in history...Weeping Willows should be again planted along the banks. HOWEVER, the department REJECTS this suggestion, because willows are not indigenous. 

When I was a boy I lived above Lehigh Parkway in Little Lehigh Manor. My father's uncle worked for the park department cutting the grass along the creek. I'm saddened by the state of the creek banks, and the stubbornness of the city to not see the best solution.

Many of the original Willow trees have died, and the remaining ones are on their last legs.

May 11, 2022

Allentown Speak Out

                                    REPRINTED FROM 2012

In the best use, molovinsky on allentown chronicles my efforts in the community, in addition to being an alternative news source for local issues. Last week a small victory resulted from such efforts. Our local dignitaries broke ground for a new garage at Lanta. Several years ago, when the garage plans were first announced, it was to be built on the parking lot of Bicentennial Park. Allentown needed money, and Lanta had a grant to build a new garage. Lanta claimed that the ball park property was the only feasible location, and the City claimed that Bicentennial Park had outlived it's usefulness.
Bicentennial Park is virtually the history of baseball in Allentown. First opened in 1939 as Fairview Field, it was home to the minor league team of the Boston Braves; The Allentown Dukes played there through 1948, when Breadon Field was built in Whitehall, site now of the Lehigh Valley Mall. Over the years thousands of Allentown kids had the yearly thrill of playing "Under The Lights". In addition to hosting the Allentown Ambassadors, it currently serves women's fast pitch softball. In addition to the outrage in our park system, I will be adding the ballfield as a topic in my upcoming SPEAK OUT ALLENTOWN MEETING. from Lanta Mugs City, May 14,2009  
I conducted a meeting at a small local church, which attracted a couple members of City Council and the Hunsicker Family, who led the drive to build the park, decades ago. City Council went on to pass a resolution recommending that the park not be sold, and Lanta did eventually figure out an alternative space for the garage. Needless to say, I wasn't one of the dignitaries invited to the ground breaking, nor were my efforts even mentioned in the newspaper article, but a small victory, never the less.

Baseball Memoirs, June 3, 2009

above reprinted from 2012
UPDATE DECEMBER 2016: The meetings mentioned above, in 2008 and 2009, I conducted at Faith Baptist Church on N.12th St.  Among the topics were parking meter increases, Lanta,  Bicentennial Park, and Fairview Cemetery.  They provided an informal public venue for citizens and council to interact.  Years later, I would conduct more meetings at the library on preserving the WPA structures.  Unfortunately,  Allentown and South Whitehall have demonstrated little regard for our historic structures.  The mission continues.

Design considerations on this blog are chosen for desktop viewing.

above reprinted from December of 2016

UPDATE MAY 11, 2022: Although I no longer conduct public meetings, and remain a persona non grata at the Morning Call,  I continue to advocate through this blog and Allentown Chronicles, a facebook group. I started the effort to save Wehr's Dam, and was gratified to see South Whitehall reaffirm its commitment to that structure. I appreciated an email from a SWT official thanking me for my diligence on that project. Likewise, I started the effort to appreciate and repair the WPA structures in the Allentown park system. I made a public offer to give a tour of the structures, subject to the overdue repair of two sites. So far new mayor Matt Tuerk has not responded.

May 10, 2022

A Family Story

This post is unusually personal for this blog.  My grandfather came to Allentown from Russian Lithuania  in 1891.  In the next few years he was joined by his parents, and five siblings.   The family settled on 2nd Street, along with many other Jewish immigrants of that period.  He worked in various jobs, including a cigar factory, until he could establish himself as a butcher, as in the old country.  Because we were here for over a hundred years,  I consider myself somewhat of a local historian.

As a boy growing up in Little Lehigh Manor, on the ridge above Lehigh Parkway, I explored the WPA structures when they were still comparatively new.  Because of that background, I was able to uncover the Boat Landing, and advocate for our  traditional park system.  One of my father's uncles worked for the park system, caring for Lehigh Parkway.

What brought me to this post is my great grandmother's tombstone in Fountain Hill, which I recently visited.  She is buried in an old Jewish cemetery that is no longer in use. Although, her tombstone is very old, it replaced an even older one , that then laid behind the former Wentz's tombstone factory at 20th and Hamilton, for many decades.  I am the last Molovinsky in Allentown.

photo taken behind Wentz's before recent demolition of that facility.

This blog is designed for desktop. 

reprinted from December of 2016

May 9, 2022

Stealing Allentown's Treasures

                                                   click photograph to enlarge
The merchants who built Hamilton Street counted on architecture to attract shoppers into their emporiums. Large neon signs wouldn't appear for another fifty years. The soffit and fascia shown above, halfway between 7th and 8th on Hamilton, is one of the most elaborate facades in Allentown. One thing you can say about Allentown City Hall, they never let culture, art, or history get into the way of their plans. As successful cities come to value and profit from their history more and more, Allentown keeps using the standard catalog of proven failures. I know from other projects on Hamilton Street that Pawlowski isn't big on history. The Cityline Building in the 800 Block was permitted to stucco over beautiful brickwork. Sad that the puppies, who are directors at the Art Museum and Historical Society, remain silent on the planned destruction. It's hard to describe the magnificence of the skylight shown below, also in the targeted block. It's very large in three sections, in pristine condition. Should be quite a snack for Pawlowski's bulldozer.
The bulldozer prevailed, and the former architectural treasures of our mercantile history were not preserved, save for this blog's archives. Above is reprinted from May 2011

UPDATE 2015:  The post above, reprinted from May of 2013, was then titled Stealing Allentown's Treasures. This past weekend, a member of Old Allentown Preservation Association, and an active local Democrat, bragged on facebook about how he had recycled an old second floor office door from the demolished buildings in the arena zone. In truth, Old Allentown also turned a self serving, callous eye to the destruction noted in the above post. Although I'm glad the door was recycled, allow this post to note the irony and hypocrisy of the Association.

UPDATE MAY 9, 2022:This isn't a new post- over the years, it has had different titles- but, unfortunately, its message remains more pertinent than ever. In addition to losing the mercantile architecture of Hamilton Street, we lost the Elk's Club on 8th Street. Currently, the magnificent art deco post office is in danger. More astoundingly, Zion Church, refuge of the Liberty Bell itself, is for sale. If these icons were being replaced by the building gems of the future, it would be more tolerable; but, frankly, the new buildings are architectural garbage. Allentown is in transition in so many ways. People who know better are afraid to speak out and be labeled in these woke times. Even our institutions and societies of history and culture stand down...but not this blog.

May 6, 2022

Wehr's Dam Conspiracy Against Voters

The South Whitehall Commissioners never expected the voters to approve the referendum in November of 2016 to retain Wehr's Dam, especially when they had associated it with a possible tax increase. They thought that they could accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy in demolishing the dam, with no political consequence to themselves.

In July of 2014, the Commissioners gave the Conservancy permission to conduct a study of the dam, which was intended to justify its demolition. The engineering firm for the Conservancy then claimed that the dam was leaking under itself, at one small spot. On February 13, 2015, the DEP wrote the township; "The Wildlands Conservancy has recently brought to our attention that there is some confusion relating to the current condition of the Wehr's Dam..." For the Commissioners to have granted the Wildlands Conservancy permission to interface with the state was improper. The dam is the historic property of the township residents, not an outside party.

A subsequent study of the dam by another engineering firm could not confirm the above referenced leak. It is now necessary for the Commissioners to put aside their agenda of accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy, and honor the results of the referendum. They must change their Park Master Plan, which still calls for the dam's demolition. They must now advocate for the dam with the state DEP, and correct any misconceptions about its condition.  The reality is that the dam is an overbuilt massive concrete wedge, sitting on an enormous concrete platform, which would stand for another 100 years with no repair.

Although its been over three years since the referendum, the township hasn't applied one dab of cement to the dam. On the contrary, they have been rebidding the repairs trying to actually get a higher price, to exceed the amount authorized by the voter's referendum. They are trying to undo the will of the voters. The dam sits in a state of benign neglect, waiting for the state to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and condemn it.

photocredit: Jason Fink

above reprinted from February 2017

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 2020: Since this letter to the editor was written in 2017, things have gotten worse for Wehr's Dam. The former South Whitehall park director, Randy Cope, is now in charge of Public Works for the township. His father is the former CFO of the Wildlands Conservancy.

 1. Randy Cope now states that it will cost $1million to repair the dam, but he doesn't reveal that the cost increase is because of the communications between the Wildlands Conservancy and the state DEP. Those communications were intended to drive the repair cost above the amount approved by the voters in the referendum.  Even though the dam is rated low hazard, the township made no attempt to defend the dam against the Wildlands' allegations.  The Pennsylvania DEP is fine with the Wildlands' scheme,  and boasts about more dam removals than any other state in the country.

 2. The Wildlands Conservancy has campaigned to demolish the Dam since 2014, and now is in charge of the Township's multi $million dollar Greenway Project through the park.

 3. Another main supporter of the Wildlands in South Whitehall is commissioner Tori Morgan, who has been appointed President of the new township board of commissioners.

 4. Although the Morning Call has rejected and ignored the above letter since 2017,  I'm hopeful that new leadership at the paper will investigate these violations against both the voters and local history.

ADDENDUM APRIL 12, 2021: Former S.W. Commissioner Brad Osborne on L.V. Ramblings asks for examples of betrayed trust in South Whitehall... perhaps nothing illustrates this problem more than the insincerity of the board in regard to Wehr's Dam.  Recently resigned commissioner Matt Mobilio wondered out loud how the board could get out from under the obligation of repairing Wehr's.  Commissioner president Tori Morgan has been aligned with the Wildlands Conservancy's obsession to demolish the dam since day one in 2014. 

ADDENDUM DECEMBER 3, 2021:  A link to Jason Fink's Wehr's Dam photography

UPDATE MAY 6, 2022: Yesterday the Morning Call reported that the Wehr's Dam project, after languishing all these years, is set to move ahead to the repair stage. Of course it didn't simply languish, but instead was a victim of the conspiracy outlined above. The Morning Call also reports that the price tag has now crept up, but here again they don't explain that the price increase was also part of the conspiracy, to undo the will of the people through their referendum's price limitation. If that's not shoddy enough, the Morning Call has written a series of whitewashes over the years, and refused to print my exposes on how the public was being cheated.

May 5, 2022

Morning Call Still Spinning For Reilly

The Morning Call today continues its long time tradition of distorting the news about the NIZ and its main beneficiary, J. B. Reilly. We're told that tax revenues rebounded, and that Butz and Jaindl both got some tax money for their debt service, but that the lion's share, $44million, went to City Center Allentown. 

Don't confuse city center with center city, as you're meant to. City Center is a private company, owned by one man, J.B. Reilly. Don't confuse rebound with a thriving downtown. I use the services of two large tenants, in two of the largest new buildings, and visit their offices on a regular basis. Downtown remains a dead zone. So, where did the increased revenue come from? From the BIG OMISSION from the Morning Call. The NIZ law was amended to allow the state cigarette tax to be used by Reilly. The former Morning Call building itself is being used as a cigarette warehouse. All this deception is the most wholesome part of the story. Previously, before the amendment, the cigarette tax was used for CHIP, children's health insurance program. 

Although I have lowered my public profile and reprint many of my historical pieces, I will still take local government and press to task as necessary.

May 4, 2022

108-110 Union Street

When the illustrated map of Allentown shown above was marketed in 1879, 108-110 Union Street were already long standing twin houses. Behind the houses was the western channel of the Lehigh River, which went around Jeter's Island. Years later the island would be called Kline's, and become the city sewage plant. In the mid 1960's, that portion of the river would be filled in and no longer exists. While maps now indicate that the Little Lehigh joins the Lehigh at the southern end of the former island, previously it joined the channel on the western side of the island.

When the map was produced, 108 was owned by William Goetz, and 110 was owned by the Remaley family. Over the years the two sides appear to have been occupied by a number of families,  as both owners and tenants.

In 1921, both houses were purchased by H.H. Steinmetz, a former meat manager for Swift Packing. Steinmetz built a modern 10,000 ft. addition, opening his meat packing plant in 1922. Steinmetz Meat Packing supplied the chain of Economy corner markets with meat and provisions.

In 1941, the packing house was purchased by the Molovinsky family, and renamed Allentown Packing Company. While wholesale operations ceased in 1949, the business continued as a retail meat market until 1970. The plant was demolished several years later to provide parking for A&B Meats. The vacant parcel was then purchased by the neighboring commercial property.

reprinted from April of 2020

May 3, 2022

Back To The Future With Emma

Although the Progressives, who campaigned against the waste to energy plant and the water lease this year, didn't like Emma Tropiano back in the day, or now, here's a history lesson they may find interesting. Shown above is Emma camping out by the entrance to Kline's Island on October 13, 1989. Her statement to the press. "The deal with the Lehigh County Authority to open Kline's Island to outside sewage sources has promoted massive development in western Lehigh County, drawing potential commercial and industrial development away from Allentown and resulting in higher taxes for city property owners." She was running against The First Mayor For Life Joe Daddona's fourth term. His reply. "It's obvious once again that Emma, because of her lack of knowledge and understanding of a problem, is shooting from the hip and hitting herself in the foot." She was also outspoken about the direction the city was heading in: Is Allentown in an ugly decline, with drugs, crime, filth and mismanagement rotting away the core of the Queen City, as challenger Emma D. Tropiano insists? Or is it squarely facing its problems and coming up with sound, creative solutions, as Mayor Joseph S. Daddona says?" The Morning Call, Nov. 5, 1989.

reprinted from November of 2013

ADDENDUM: On Tuesday Bill White repeated his quote about Emma from 2001; I like Emma, but she wouldn't know fresh ideas and positive leadership if they were driving down Hamilton Street in a blue Cadillac. Bill has made Emma one of the symbols of his Hall Of Shame. Bill White protests against this designation, coined by yours truly years ago, and cites the philanthropic Cipko Brothers as proof that the Hall isn't limited to shame. However, I remember back when, and the gag about them was their ridiculous toupees, which White featured in photographs. Philanthropic or not, their toupees put them in the Hall, not their charity. Anyway, I digress. Bill White has been wrong about Emma for over 40 years.  The problem is that now a whole generation of people disparage her, based on Morning Call distortions.

reprinted from May of 2017 and Nov. of 2020

photocredit:The Morning Call

May 2, 2022

Visiting Easton

Being one of the last warm days of the year, I thought we would visit Easton. I thought perhaps it would be more interesting to do the trip circa 1948. Lehigh Valley Transit had a trolley that went from 8th and Hamilton, through Bethlehem, to the circle in Easton. In the photo above, we're coming down Northampton Street, just entering the Circle. The Transit Company was using both trolleys and buses, until they discontinued trolleys completely, in 1953. At this time, Hamilton, Broad and Northampton Streets were the shopping malls of the era, and public transportation serviced the customers. The Transit Company, now Lanta, currently serves the Allentown population from a prison like facility at 6th and Linden Streets; It just needs a fence. Easton mayor Sal Panto is now also abandoning the merchants for a remote transportation/correction facility, which will entertain the inmates with the Al Bundy High School Dropout Museum. Hope you enjoyed the trip.
reprinted from November of 2011

UPDATE March 9, 2015: The above post was written in 2011, but it's taken Sal Panto longer than expected to build the Lanta Transfer/Parking Deck. The planned Al Bundy Museum is now being replaced instead by Easton City Hall, where Sal is expected to wear his high school football uniform. As it turns out, Sal and I have something in common, we both worked at our fathers' meat markets in Easton. My father's market was called Melbern, and was on S. 4th Street, catty corner the Mohican Market. During the early 1960's, on my way to lunch in the circle, I would stop and visit a friend who worked at Iannelli's chicken and coldcut counter in the 5&10 on Northampton Street. The meat markets and commerce on Northampton Street are long gone, but Easton's Center Square is having a revival as the place to dine.

ADDENDUM MAY 2, 2022: When I first wrote this post in 2011, I never imagined that Panto would still be mayor 100 years later. I suppose that here in Kentuckvania, unless you get picked up by the FBI for blatant behavior, you're elected for life and beyond. Some cities become charming by some point the lack of development looks historic. I still visit Easton on a regular basis. Even stopped in once to meet Panto, but supposedly he wasn't in.

Apr 29, 2022

It's Like A Postcard

Last week when I prevailed on some players at City Hall to meet me in Lehigh Parkway, somebody remarked that it's like a postcard. With the creek banks now overgrown, it would difficult to recreate the nationally distributed postcards of Allentown parks from the 1950's. But the old postcards still exist, giving testimony to the beauty that was ours. There will be a formal discussion with the City Council Park and Recreation Committee next Wednesday at 5:00p.m. They will hear about stream velocity theory and habitat from the grant driven new age science crew. I will talk about beauty. I still believe that the parks were created for the pleasure of people.

reprinted from August of 2013

ADDENDUM APRIL 29, 2022:The above post was from my unsuccessful battle in 2013 to save the small, melodic dam built to accompany the Robin Hood Bridge in 1941. At that time I noted the overgrown creek banks. In addition to dam and history destruction, the Wildlands Conservancy also potty trained the Allentown Park System to grow riparian buffers. They're not really riparian buffers because here in Allentown the storm runoff system is piped under them, directly into the streams. However, the faux buffers do cut down the grass mowing a bit, and the park system satisfies its masters. But because of invasive species, the buffers still must be cut at least twice a year, so the poison hemlock and other invasives don't take lies another victim of the buffers, the baby ducks. The duckling nests are destroyed with the first cutting. The west side of Cedar Park by the rose gardens failed again to produce any ducklings. One bewildered couple looks like they may try again. I have been on this save the ducks mission now for three years. In addition to this blog, I have unsuccessfully lobbied city personnel. Their supposed plan of looking for nests before the first cutting simply doesn't work in the field.

Apr 28, 2022

Barbarians At Allentown Post Office Gate

In the 1930's, the "New Deal" was good to Allentown.  Our park system was enriched by monumental stone construction under the WPA. We also received one of the architectural gems of our area, the magnificent art deco post office. Constructed during 1933-34, no detail was spared in making the lobby an ageless classic. The floor is adorned with handmade Mercer tiles from Doylestown. Muralist Gifford Reynolds Beal worked thru 1939 portraying the Valley's cultural and industrial history.

Unfortunately for history and culture, this architectural gem is now being targeted for NIZ private/public enrichment.  Several architectural treasures were demolished for the arena, along with Allentown's mercantile history. The Postal Service has signed off on the building, and the developer is chomping at the bit. The real tragedy is that the other new buildings are not even full, but with private construction being funded by taxpayers, there is no need to worry about such details as occupancy rates.  Efforts to save this irreplaceable building may start and end on this blog.  The Morning Call, itself a partner in the NIZ,  has taken a back seat on such matters.

The 83 year old photograph, part of my private collection,  is the contractor's documentation of the project's progress. The back of the photo states; Taken Sept 1 - 34 showing lobby, floor, screens, desks, completed & fixtures hung

photograph will enlarge when clicked

reprinted from previous years 

ADDENDUM APRIL 28, 2022:I first published this photo and blog about the post office history in 2008. By 2018, I added the copy about the threat to the building and the NIZ. Although my posts at that time did generate some historical pangs, to my knowledge the fate of this gem remains in limbo.

Apr 27, 2022

The Honest Broker, Missing From The Lehigh Valley

In a previous post, I told how South Whitehall's Christina Morgan would be coming forward suggesting a referendum on Wehr's Dam. Last night, as if on cue, she made her backdoor suggestion, hoping to help the Wildlands still demolish the icon. Also in a previous post, I mentioned that the Allentown Parking Authority presents contrived surveys, to justify their rate hikes. Also on cue, that claim was made last night, to justify doubling the meter rate in Allentown. We were also told that tickets are only reluctantly given, to enforce rules which benefit everybody. As one who has often seen street sweeping tickets give out en masse, with no meaningful sweeping, I know better than that. We live in an area where bureaucrats can say and do as they please, with no scrutiny from the press. The bureaucrats are imbued with arrogance, thinking they know best, certainly much better than the dirty masses. The press is nine to five, satisfied to report what is said, with no need to know the real motives. The public, for the most part, is content with this diet of abridged news. On the national level, they're so conditioned to spin and attitude, that facts no longer count. Who cares if you have to pay $2 an hour to park on empty Hamilton Street on a Tuesday afternoon? 

above reprinted from April 16, 2015 

ADDENDUM APRIL 27, 2022:Although seven years have passed, I'm afraid reform is just an empty word used by some new faces in local governments. The Wildlands Conservancy still runs South Whitehall township. Allentown has a new administration on city hall's top floor, but the city is still run by the same Pawlowski entrenched goons on the lower floors. The Morning Call no longer has any floors, and uses the same opiners from yesteryear, rewriting their old insights. The city is populated by a shifting tide of immigrants from the New(s), that be Jersey and them it does seem new, exciting and reformed.

Apr 26, 2022

Abuse Of Power At The Monument Building

The building had begun its life as the 1st National Bank. The second owner renamed it Corporate Center. The third owner renamed it Monument Building.

One morning in early July of 2008, code enforcement descended upon the Monument Building like a swat team.  Every officer, in every department , entered the building at the same time, and spread out looking for every possible violation. Under the previous owner, the same conditions, with the same tenants, were lauded as a rebirth.

Whatever motivated Pawlowski to pull the plug on the new owner, the tenants were lightweights, of no consequence to him. At that time, myself and few other malcontents, like Lou Hershman, would gather early in the morning for coffee at Jerry's Cafe, located on the first floor.

Jerry's was not one of the upstart businesses blessed with a Pawlowski grant at the time. He had to pay for everything, and everything had been inspected, inside and out. His plans had been approved, his electric and plumbing had been approved,  and his expensive grill and hood system had been approved.  While all the tenants were put out of business that day,  Jerry was also financially ruined. 

During this sorry Pawlowski era, he used the code department as a weapon.  Although Pawlowski is gone, some of that same mentality apparently still lurks with some of the code officers.  I wrote about Pawlowski's tactics back then in 2008, and I will continue to defend those currently victimized by such abuse.

The Monument Building would be torn down years later by J.B. Reilly, and replaced by one of his Corporate Towers.

I photographed the code cars that morning lined up for the raid   

reprinted from previous years

ADDENDUM APRIL 26, 2022: In 2008, when the above abuse was occuring, this blogger was there documenting the incident. I documented numerous incidents in that period. As Pawlowski became bolder in his aggression and attracted the attention of the FBI, they used this and O'Hare's blog as a source for tips. Unfortunately those Pawlowski storm troopers are still at city hall. Some have ascended into positions of power. Just two years ago I documented on this blog a homeowner being harassed, as a personal favor to a friend of a code director. I have slowed down with such direct involvement, that was the last court hearing I attended. Thirty years of fighting city hall takes its toll. I can tell you that Pawlowski supporters thought that he could walk on water, he couldn't...that should be a lesson for current supporters of current politicans.

Apr 25, 2022

Bill White's Confusion

I had to shake my head reading Bill White's column yesterday. While I often criticize Bill for wasting his bully pulpit on grammar and his reoccurring themes, it's actually better than the revisionism he bestowed upon the Morning Call yesterday.  He wrote, "The Morning Call has focused attention over the years on practices that hinted at pay to play, but those revelations never generated enough heat to trigger legislation or internal reforms." That's news to me Bill, although I realize that the paper has now ended its eight year  honeymoon with Pawlowski, that only occurred after the recent FBI raid.  By my scorecard, you would have to cite examples of these revelations about pay to play you claim the paper made. Up to recent events, the paper took everything from the Pawlowski Administration at face value.  In reality, the paper, and pardon me for saying, you in particular, were cheerleaders, especially for the NIZ.  You even called me misguided for suggesting that the NIZ was a plan based on layers of inequity: Inequitable to most of the existing businesses in the valley, and segregating against the residents of center city. Although you now write that "Time is running out for politics as usual,"  most of the few local political mavericks have ended up in your Hall Of Shame.  If your memory lapses continue,  you might want to see your physician.

above reprinted from August 28, 2015 

ADDENDUM APRIL 25, 2022:Over the years numerous personnel at the Morning Call took a buyout, including Bill White. About a year ago, he persuaded the editor/publisher(Mike Miorelli) to give him back two columns a month. Although he's still certainly no Bernstein/Woodward, he has recently written a couple of pieces beyond his previous MO of chocolate cake contests and Christmas lights. Perhaps my insults inspired him. However, I still will allow no former Morning Call reporter to claim that the newspaper ever broke anything critical of any level of local government. On the contrary, they still turn their back on controversy.

Apr 22, 2022

Pawlowski And The Little People

Lately, I noticed on facebook, that Ed Pawlowski has started attending littier events, such as a small hispanic church picnic. Understand that if Mayor Ed had his choice, he still would be a candidate for the United States Senate, and not the object of an FBI investigation. He still might had,  under the prior scenario, attended a mega congregation picnic, but previously he didn't have interest in the small fry stuff. Why now is Ed showing up at the munchkin events? Does he want to say he got religion as part of his future defense? Naw, he always had big church religion. Beyond the obvious, that his personal cache has depreciated, he might be trying to cultivate a Marion Barry constituency. When the Washington mayor got popped for cocaine, his followers still elected him. I think that the taint from the Raid On City Hall has made bigger office, or big appointments, on the state or federal level, a goal no longer attainable. Perhaps Ed sees being Mayor For Life now as his best shot, supported by the little people, more tolerant of legal scrapes.

above reprinted from September 7, 2015

ADDENDUM APRIL 22, 2022: My hunch above about Pawlowski turned out to be correct, as did many of my previous hunches about him.  He did cobble together enough different minority votes to win a fourth term after being convicted. He favorite vehicle of ascension was the Human Relations Council. One of his anointed stayed in Grace until last week, when her husband misspoke in their Foundation office.  Unfortunately for Allentown, those Councils* tend to still be used for the same purpose. Worse for Allentown, many of Pawlowski's lackeys remained in City Hall, with some actually being promoted.

* this post is not intended to disparage any current member of any council or commission

Apr 21, 2022

Morning Call Catches Up To Molovinsky On Neuweiler

On Sunday, The Morning Call had an article that Ruckus Brewing was much less than previously presented, but they didn't mention their previous puffing.  Over two years ago, I reported that they were in reality a couple of young guys, with a rented office in NYC, who had purchased the former Reading Brewery Label, and contracted out the limited beer production. Recently, columnist Bill White defended the paper's reporting, and tried to marginalize this blog by not even referring to it by name. Although Ruckus had no actual brewing experience, and no real estate experience, they were given the option on the Neuweiler property, and a $34 million dollar plan in taxpayer NIZ funding,  to renovate the parcel. Although they had no experience,  they did have a local business agent named Mike Fleck. The paper previously gushed about the coming brewery and pub, regurgitating press releases like they were news. Recently, I reprinted one of my Ruckus/Neuweiler posts, and low and behold, The Morning Call now had a Sunday feature. But even fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare said,  But they had more details.  I reported two months ago that in fact they were  mickey mouse, with only a single distributor in Pennsylvania.  Bernie was impressed because the Morning Call printed the name of the distributor, which I had chose not to.  In reality, there wasn't one more pertinent detail in the paper's story than mine, written two months earlier.

I'll leave the regurgitated press releases to the paper.  I'll leave Bernie worshipping those details which pad out articles into longer features.  I will continue to distill reality from promotion in Allentown, and give the news in small shots, to discriminating readers. Comments will remain moderated, restricted to additional insights.  molovinsky on allentown will remain a craft blog,  in an ever more crass environment. 

above reprinted from September 30, 2015

ADDENDUM APRIL 21, 2022: I have a knack for pissing off many people at the same time. Unfortunately, that hurts many of my causes, such as the WPA in Allentown...This is one of those posts.  
The brewery has been neglected for so long that it isn't worthwhile restoring. However, because the work on the now privately owned building will be financed with diverted state taxes, nobody feels the pain directly, and nobody cares. The previous owner was actually arrested for not improving space now allowed to be rented in the same as is condition, by the new approved owners. Because the building is now connected to the existing power structure in Allentown,  the revitalization will continue. Influence in both the ANIZDA and AEDC overlap. That overlapping now extends into the city's new administration. Back to my piss off abilities. I'm a seasoned veteran of such conflict. There's little point in me pecking away at this typewriter this early in the morning if I'm going to be acquiescing to the newspaper, city hall or even popular opinion.

Apr 20, 2022

General Trexler's Bridge

The 8th Street Bridge is one of the marvels of Allentown.  It was built to facilitate the Liberty Trolley run, from 8th and Hamilton to Philadelphia.  I posted about it before, with its impressive statistics. At the time it was the largest concrete bridge in the world.  It involved two business interests of Harry Trexler,  both the transit company and the local cement industry.

Harrisburg and The Morning Call have been braying about the bridges scheduled for improvement and replacement in the area.  Although, I virtually stopped attending municipal meetings,  I still partake in field trips to the local construction sites.  I don't announce myself, and try to be quick and quiet on these unauthorized inspections.  I would prefer not to vanish like Jimmy Hoffa.  I want to inspect the bridge, not end up in the bridge.

On first glance the work on the bridge looks very impressive. The bridge walls have been replaced with new concrete walls, almost identical to the original, even including the lighting pillars. My question is that the roadbed has been raised about 18 inches, but is still supported by the same arches. Eighteen inches of additional concrete on the roadbed and sidewalk is an enormous additional weight load. Furthermore, I have learned that there was bonding issues between the older base and new concrete. Only the approaches, on both ends of the bridge, have been replaced.  This was done because they are the lowest part of the bridge, and the most feasible parts to replace.  However, they were replaced with pre-stressed concrete beams, and the new arches are only decorative panels.  The original approach bases were massive constructions, which probably would have stood another 1000 years.

Only now is the part of the project which I knew to be necessary beginning.  The massive bridge arches has been showing spalling damage over the last decades.  That is the process where old concrete lets loose from the steel re-bar used as the construction frame.

When the project is completed, I do not expect to be invited to the ribbon cutting. 

reprinted from July of 2016

ADDENDUM: The second iconic concrete bridge, the Tilghman Street Bridge, is now undergoing a similar reconstruction process. That project is considerably behind schedule, penalizing both residents and businesses on Union Blvd. Although I have done some photo recon, I have not interviewed workers as I did on the 8th Street project. 

The reason for this reprint is my doubts about the huge Infrastructure Spending Bill that our local politicans are patting themselves on the back about. In slower times the taxpayer money is seldom put to the best use. With all this money there is no project to widen Rt. 22, sorely needed now for two decades. Instead, our portion will build a new road along the Lehigh, only duplicating Front Street a block parallel. Another ribbon cutting I won't be invited to.

Bridge reopening now scheduled for May,  extending the closure for 52 months.

Apr 19, 2022

Allentown's WPA Watchman

Being a self appointed watchman over Allentown's WPA structures is an act in frustration. Since I started posting about the neglect of the structures in 2008, I have seen nothing of substance done. Actually, besides the steps at Irving Park being rebuilt, I have seen nothing done at all. While rebuilding that small staircase was positive, many negatives occurred in the meantime. The meantime has been over seven years. Also in the meantime, another set of steps were removed from Irving Park. The staircase at Union Terrace is deteriorating to the point where that structure is in jeopardy. The repair to a remaining staircase at Irving was done with a $25,000 grant from the Trexler Trust. In the last seven years, the park department's budget has been over $25 million dollars. The playground at Cedar Beach cost $1 million. Pawlowski has rejected my offer to be a liaison on behalf of the WPA structures. I'm pictured above standing over the former WPA wall, after it collapsed this summer, closing Lehigh Parkway's classic entrance. This city's history and future are tied to our park system and other quality of life issues, not just some private/public new buildings. I know there's no big money or national attention to be gained in fixing an old wall, but we have a responsibility to the things which made this city unique.

photo courtesy of Michael Adams
above reprinted from October of 2015

UPDATE APRIL 19, 2022: In the photo above, I'm standing over the collapsed entrance wall in Lehigh Parkway, after spending the previous seven years urging the city to repair it. The O'Connell administration likewise declined my offer to be a liaison for the WPA. I have yet to hear from the Tuerk administration on my offer to conduct a WPA tour, if the city repairs the landing on the Parkway staircase, and removes the rubble despoiling the Robin Hood bridge piers.

Apr 18, 2022

Allentown's Historic Syrian Community

When my grandfather first arrived in Allentown he lived in the Ward, on 2nd. Street. It was around 1895 and the neighborhood was full of immigrants. Some groups came from the same area in the old country, most noticeably the Syrians, from the village of Amar*. They were Antiochian Orthodox, a minority in a Muslim country. The congregation of St. George's Church on Catasauqua Ave., largely is descended from those immigrants. Well known names in Allentown, such as Atiyeh, Haddad, Hanna, Makoul, Koury and Joseph are among their members. They were among one of the first groups to organize, and those organizations still exist. The photo above was organized by the Syrian American Organization in 1944. Note that Jewish, on the left, is treated as a nationality.

* hopefully my Syrian friends will correct any historical errors I have made.

click on photo to enlarge

UPDATE: The above post is reprinted from March of 2010. I have repeated the post several times since over the years, and have written other posts concerning Allentown's historic Syrian Community as well. Although I didn't grow up in the Ward, I grew up with their children, who had by then also lived in other sections of town. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, the organized Syrian community wielded considerable strength in local Democratic politics. I assure you that Pawlowski went hat in hand to their leadership even in 2005. This week at least a portion of the community came to City Council, hat in hand; Pawlowski had denied their request for a Syrian Flag ceremony at City Hall. The Syrian political influence in Allentown has been somewhat weakened by a large migration of that community to Whitehall. I will also concede on Pawlowski's part that the current politics of Syria is indeed very complicated. That reality aside, the large local Syrian community deserves some public recognition of its historic role and roots.

UPDATE APRIL 18, 2022: On Saturday, the Syrian community observed Syria's independence with a flag raising at City Hall.

Apr 15, 2022

Behind Allentown's Protest

Yesterday, among the protestors outside of the Ortiz Ark Foundation on 9th Street, was MsPhoebe Harris. Harris and other protestors were offended when a video emerged showing the Ark's Oscar Ortiz disparaging Blacks. Ark was started by Oscar's wife Jessica, who was in a damage control mode yesterday.

Jessica Ortiz and MsPhoebe Harris know each other well. Both were empowered by Ed Pawlowski, when he cobbled together his fourth and last election victory in 2017. Pawlowski appointed members of the minority communities to various boards, to gain their support for that year's crowded primary.

Although I remain a persona non-grata at the Morning Call, readers may rely on this blog for institutional knowledge and background, no longer available from the newspaper.

shown above Jessica Ortiz and MsPhoebe Harris sharing coffee and political aspirations

Apr 14, 2022

Enid Santiago Again Cries Victim

The court, the Morning Call and hers truly continue to portray Enid Santiago a victim of the Man. The Morning  Call's reporter insists on using the adverb only, when referring to her previous primary loss by only 55 votes. 

Although she admittedly submitted 239 bad signatures on her current petition, the victim will nevertheless be on the ballot.

In 2014, as an independent candidate, this blogger collected the 300 required signatures by myself, with a few more by a couple of volunteers.

As a Pennsylvanian, I hope that she again complains about her loss after the upcoming primary...A victory celebration would be much worse for the commonwealth's good.

the above photo is of my billboard in 2014, as an independent candidate for the state house.

Apr 13, 2022

The Business Of Cedar Park

As an advocate for the traditional park system, I find commercial companies leasing Cedar Park a complete exploitation of the park.  On Saturday, the park lent itself to the second for profit company this year, The Color Run. (The first was Slide The City) These companies donate a small portion of the proceeds to a local cause, creating the misconception of community benefit, while the traveling shows are actually for their own profit.  Slide The City was really ironic, considering that Cedar Beach Pool was closed because of neglect.  After a long season of one scheduled event after another, one would think that the Rose Garden neighborhood deserved a respite, but not in this administration's commercial mind. I cannot tell you exactly from where the music was being broadcast early Saturday morning, but you could hear it from Cedar Crest Blvd. to 17th Street. These commercial add on events may be fine for a park system with no scheduled recreation, but that's not the case in Allentown, especially Cedar Park.

I don't write much about Pawlowski's trouble with the FBI, that's above my paygrade, but I can tell you I consider him a park criminal. His main crime against the parks is the neglect of the WPA structures, resulting in the collapse of the Lehigh Parkway wall.  Allowing the Wildlands Conservancy to demolish the Robin Hood Dam, to garner a grant, was another crime.  While the park system infrastructure crumbles, Pawlowski brags about people paying to be sprayed with colored powders.

above reprinted from October 26, 2015

ADDENDUM APRIL 13, 2022: The Morning Call reports that two former Pawlowski supporters/activists have been arrested and convicted in an attempt to shake down a non-profit foundation.  The consequences of the Pawlowski regime, and those he empowered for political support,  unfortunately retain influence in Allentown.  This blog takes pride in having noted the improprieties, whenever they occurred, since 2007.

Apr 12, 2022

WPA Labor Bears Fruit

I can't exactly tell you how long I have been advocating for Allentown's WPA structures, probably at least a decade. I can't tell you how many blog posts I've written, many dozen, or letters to the editor, dozens also. I have conducted meetings at the library, given tours of the structures, and excavated structures buried in the 1980's. I have lobbied several city councils and am currently tormenting a third park director. I'm now pleased to announce that for the first time in many years, some work is occurring on these irreplaceable icons of our park system. The stone steps have been reset and re-pointed in Irving Park. Currently, the missing steps at Fountain Park are being replaced, and by next week, I believe that the Union Terrace staircase wall will be repaired. I'm not known for praising, but next week I will try to properly thank the people authorizing these repairs.

photo is reprinted from The Morning Call, May of 2009

above post from October 13, 2015

ADDENDUM APRIL,12,2022:The Morning Call recently reported that the skateboarders are complaining about their new skatepark at Jordan Park, because there's currently no lighting for night skateboarding. At Union Terrace, the stream is eating away at the stone pillar on the north end of the amphitheater stage built by the WPA in 1939.
AnonymousApril 8, 2022 at 2:27 PM              Sorry I'm late on posting this, but they need to send the masons back to Union Terrace. The large main stairwell has stones falling out, and it is getting vandalized on a routine basis, as evidenced by broken beer bottles and pieces of slate thrown down from the steps towards the creek. In addition, the smaller steps across the amphitheater are increasingly being removed; the left side of the stage area has a gaping hole in it; and the left tower in front of the stage is dangerously close to the creek from storm erosion. I don't know if City Hall and the Parks Department believe they have time to wait, analyze and study what needs to be done, but they don't. They need to act quickly or there won't be anything left that's financially feasible to save.                       Above a comment submitted to a previous blog post 
Apparently, back in 2015, I was patting myself on the back prematurely. Although I've fallen from grace with the Morning Call, this blog will continue pointing out how the city is neglecting the iconic WPA structures, which made our park system famous. History and beauty seem to mean less and less to this city every year.

Apr 11, 2022

Dinner With Allentown's Write-Ins

I don't go out much at night. Between usually writing this blog around 4:30AM, and the family bakery, I have the schedule of a three year old. Truth be told, the bakery closed 35 years ago, but it's my normal excuse for going to sleep at 8:00PM. With the election on Tuesday, and Rich Fegley and Shane Fillman running as write-ins, I'll try to catch up with them tonight in the little apple. Between my rosacea and shiny nose, I usually have my butler powder my face before I go out.

ADDENDUM: I invite any candidate for Tuesday's election to join me this evening, 6pm, at the Hamilton Street BreWWork

above reprinted from October 30, 2015 

ADDENDUM APRIL 11, 2022: The above post was written almost seven years ago. Neither Fegley or Fillman made it as write-ins. My makeup man has passed away, and I seldom venture out at night anymore.  Although I still produce this blog and a sister page on facebook (Allentown Chronicles), I have become less active about Allentown's political scene. Back in 2015, when this post and I were fresher, I had three posts that day promoting certain candidates for the primary... Nowadays I limit my election recommendations. However, I do continue to advocate for Allentown's iconic WPA structures, unfortunately in various stages of neglect throughout our park system. If Mayor Tuerk and park director El-Chaar manage to repair the landings on the Parkway's double stairway, I'll venture out to conduct another park tour.

Apr 8, 2022

Naysaying In Allentown

An apologist, who is in a profession to profit from the current development, wrote these kind words about me recently; Why would they spend 20 million in a new apartment building if the Strata 1 was not filled? Business people make business decisions. Strata 1 is full, don't be fooled by the incessant haters and naysayers... Of course the answer is simple. Because the taxpayers are paying the construction costs and debt service for these privately owned buildings, there are no normal business decisions being made. With nobody currently questioning the bills or figures submitted, or the taxes grabbed, the chosen developers would be stupid to stop building, while this environment remains unregulated.

But lets move away from the lucrative nuts and bolts of the NIZ, and examine me, as a naysayer. I first heard this term applied toward me and this blog by Pawlowski, about eight years ago. His majesty, at the time, wasn't used to any scrutiny. With an adoring press and public, I was writing heresy. At that time, even my fellow blogger from Nazareth condemned my criticism of Allentown's administration.

In recent weeks, Pawlowski's face was used on numerous mailers to personify corruption. I actually take no pleasure in his fall from grace, and wish him a soft landing in his current predicament. This blog's raison d'exister is to cast light on those decisions which unnecessarily depreciate our life. If normal business decisions were being made, or our park treasures were being properly maintained, and citizens questioning local officials were shown appropriate respect, I could write more posts on history, and less about politics.

above reprinted from November 10, 2015

ADDENDUM APRIL 8, 2022: In the above post, written in 2015, I'm referring to 2007 when Pawlowski was publicly calling me a naysayer...In subsequent years he would call me worse. Fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare quickly came on board recognizing that Pawlowski was ethically challenged. While the Morning Call supported Pawlowski until his indictment, they never learned to appreciate either O'Hare's or my contribution to the local dialogue. Pawlowski did not have a soft landing. I continue scrutinizing, and in this community consider the label naysayer a badge of honor.

Apr 7, 2022

When Mack Was Allentown

I grew up around the corner from Mack's famous 5C plant, on the corner of Lehigh and S. 12th Streets. In the early 1950's, the brightly colored truck tractors would cover the lot next to the old assembly plant. All day long, a new tractor would leave for delivery somewhere, with two more piggy back on the coupling hitches. Over the years I have written a lot of posts about Mack, especially how their workers would use the Fountain Park WPA steps, walking to their jobs on S. 10th Street. Mack made all their own truck parts there, except the tires. Built Like A Mack Truck, was a result of the local craftsmanship.

In Saturday's Morning Call article about Mack investing in the Macungie plant, the vice president is quoted as saying that Mack was here to stay. By Saturday evening, that vice president was no longer with the company, according to WFMZ. I remember when the larger share of production was moved to South Carolina in 1987. Shortly before that plant closed in 2002, they handed out sunglasses to symbolize their bright future there. I remember when the World Headquarters on Mack Boulevard moved to North Carolina. I don't know about Mack's long term future in the valley, but I do know that the ties that bind have long since been broken.

Jack Mack, one of Mack Truck's founding brothers, was killed in an auto accident in 1924. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street.

reprinted from 2016

Apr 6, 2022

A WPA Monday

A month ago Mondays, I climbed the steps at Fountain Park to speak to the stone masons repairing that iconic structure. The steps were built in 1936, and would soon serve thousands of men walking down from center city to the Mack factory, to produce trucks for the war effort. It took me ten years to get the masons there, but by now I had another pressing objective. In the last couple of years, the top of the wall at the double stairwell at Union Terrace had become open, threatening that structure with potential catastrophic damage. After learning that the masons had no assignment beyond the Fountain Park steps, I drove over to the Park and Recreation Office.

Lindsay Taylor, the new park director, has been fairly cordial to me, considering my reputation as a mauler of city bureaucrats. I explained that the top of the Union Terrace wall was open, and that I had serious doubts about it surviving another winter of freeze and thaw cycles.  I requested that the masons make an emergency repair on top of the wall, while other repairs needed there could be delayed. Taylor agreed to consult her park supervisor, Rick Holtzman, about my request. Later that morning, I spoke with Holtzman, who agreed that it would indeed be appropriate to reassign the masons.  The masons were replacing missing steps and repointing the Fountain Park stairwell,  through a grant from the Trexler Trust. The grant had been written and requested by Karen El-Chaar, from Allentown Friends of the Parks. El-Chaar had attended my meetings years earlier on the WPA structures, and I had since  conducted tours of Lehigh Parkway in conjunction with her organization. Holtzman requested that El-Chaar clear the repair at Union Terrace with the Trexler Trust, since their funds were designated to be spent at Fountain Park. The Trust gave their permission for the masons to be temporally reassigned.

By the weeks end the masons spend a day at the Terrace, and repaired the top of the wall. I'm grateful that Lindsay Taylor and the Trexler Trust responded to stabilize that structure, and optimistic that their commitment to  our WPA history will continue.  I will  in turn  continue on,  when necessary, mauling the bureaucrats.

The photograph above shows the WPA steps being built in Seattle. I'm sure an identical sight could be seen on Lawrence Street in 1936. 

above reprinted from November of 2015

Apr 5, 2022

A Tale Of Two Cities

"We're a medium-size city
with big-city crime."    
-Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Allentown

For those of us who grew up in Allentown, we always considered ourselves a medium-sized city with a small town feel. We were literally designated the All American City. One of the most amazing aspects of this transformation, is that our total population has essentially stayed the same since 1928, when we first achieved 100,000 people. Twenty years ago we lamented the loss of Hess Brothers and other symbols of our prosperity, now we mourn the loss of basic civility and safety.

above reprinted from May of 2010

ADDENDUM APRIL 5, 2022: In a discussion on Facebook about the changes that have occurred in Allentown, somebody wrote, "But neither of us can deny there is a strong undertow of racism in many of the comments we read on these Allentown sites."  It is too easy to use the term "racism" to justify bad behavior... It intimidates and shuts people down....that's why we're having seating council members who marched shouting "F--K the Police, Defund the police." and then can even run for higher office.

Apr 4, 2022

Allentown's Revitalization And Our Frame Of Reference

I suspect that the millennials are most enthused about the changes in Allentown, while the baby boomers are the least. How you feel about what is new there now, is probably based on your frame of reference.  We who experienced Hamilton Street in it's heyday are not so impressed with current developments.  Although the Whitehall Mall opened in the mid 1960's, Hamilton Street continued on for another 30 years. When the Lehigh Valley Mall opened in the late 1970's, Hamilton Street's decline as a destination was swift. Although the former Hess Brothers store would stay open through Christmas of 1995, most of it's shoppers entered and left via it's own parking deck, never stepping foot on Hamilton Street.

During the next 15 years, the downtown survived by serving the neighboring demographic, which was becoming poorer every year. Five years ago, when I debated about the coming NIZ on Business Matters, one of the NIZ board members actually referred to the stores being displaced and their clientele as a cancer. The same merchants and customers are now considered part of 7th Streets' success, what a difference a few blocks make.

Despite one promotional article after another by The Morning Call, the verdict is still out on the success of the new revitalized center city. Because it is being financed exclusively by public funds, and will be for at least the next 30 years, normal barometers of success cannot be used. I spend a lot of time there, but have yet to feel the buzz.

above reprinted from November 30, 2015

ADDENDUM APRIL 4, 2022: The six plus years since the above was written hasn't changed my assessment of center proceeds on the new offices and apartments. The new Strata 13 apartment building at 8th and Walnut mystifies me...what would compel anybody to move there? However, these type questions seem limited to this blog, and my frame of reference.

Apr 1, 2022

Life Not At Strata

Just when I thought that The Morning Call was through with the Strata Flats infomercials, they doubled down with Life At Strata. Impressive arena, trendy restaurants, and flourishing downtown are the adjectives just from the first two sentences. They profile three tenants; Young professionals who moved from Austin to teach at Muhlenberg, a full time arena director, and an older empty nester couple. The article is a hoot. The happy campers mention the name of their favorite restaurants, some of which have been open now for three whole weeks. Traditions, gotta love traditions. It's good that they love these restaurants, because it's a long way to Wegman's to go grocery shopping. If the reporters writing these articles are offended by my criticism, perhaps they should consider the other 60,000 tenants living downtown, it's called, Life Not At Strata.

above reprinted from November of 2015 

ADDENDUM APRIL 1, 2022: Reilly is now up to Strata #7 or so. While the Morning Call still has the will to promote the NIZ, they no longer have the manpower...they're pressed nowadays just to report the local news. A block out from the NIZ, Allentown remains a hard place, and it will get harder. 

The current national real estate frenzy has even propelled the downtown tenements into astronomical prices. The new investors will discover that the tenant base is not reliable enough to meet their debt service...foreclosures will be rampant. Letters from the code department will go to corporate holding companies, and be ignored...Welcome back to 2008.

Mar 31, 2022

Allentown City Council Awoke (For Five Minutes)

On Wednesday evening, City Council, for the first time in six years that Ed Pawlowski has been mayor, didn't approve one of his proposals. The proposal wasn't actually rejected, but the 3 to 3 tie vote doesn't allow his scheme to proceed. Who voted which way, is the topic of this post. Although the Pawlowski promoted Trash to Energy company was going to charge the city twice as much, for twice as long as a competitor, the RubberStamp Trio once again sang the Yes Song. Worse yet, all three singers, Schweyer, Schlossberg, and Guridy, would like to be State Representatives. Rejecting the non- competitive offer was Jeanette Eichenwald, Ray O'Connell and Cynthia Mota. Jeanette has emerged as an independent voice on Council, but until Wednesday, usually stood alone. Many people had expectations when Ray O'Connell was elected, but it took over two years for him to stand on his own. The great surprise of the evening was new councilwoman Cynthia Mota, who asserted herself at only her second council meeting. I did not attend the meeting. This analysis is from the benefit of phone calls, and two excellent 
articles by Devon Lash in The Morning Call.

above reprinted from February of 2012

ADDENDUM December 9, 2015: Within a month of writing the post above in February of 2012, Delta Thermos would wine and dine Cynthia Mota,  she would change her vote, and never again vote against the mayor.  The night of the vote change, the Pawlowski and Groen scheme had the council chamber packed with over 400 union workers, most of them from out of the area. Furthermore, they had bikers outside, trying to intimidate normal citizens from entering. The FBI has requested documents pertaining to this sorry chapter in the Pawlowski story. Schlossberg and Schweyer did go on to become midgets in the State House.  Had Delta built the plant, right now truckloads of New Jersey garbage would be using the new American Parkway Bridge, to deliver additional trash to the plant.

UPDATE MARCH 31, 2022: In the fifteen years since I started this blog, nobody can accuse me of playing up to the local politicians. Cynthia Mota is now president of city council. Schlossberg and Schweyer are established incumbents.  Allentown and the valley tend to get worse politically, not better. I'm hoping that Schweyer prevails in his upcoming primary. With the new map, I'm now in the same district as Schlossberg.  If I were less gray and long in the tooth, I'd love to run against him... but my blogger associate O'Hare tells me that Schlossberg would destroy me.  Maybe so, but from this typewriter I can still take cheap shots at him.

Mar 30, 2022

Allentown's Coffee Square

When the staff of molovinsky on allentown recently visited Tim Hortons on a weekend evening, we were the only patrons. Likewise, when we visited Johnny's across the square on a business morning, there was only one other table occupied. Despite that reality, Starbucks will now be occupying the third corner. Although City Center Real Estate Company and the Pawlowski Administration wants people to think that the Starbucks entrance symbolizes something exclusive, the shoppers at Target on Cedar Crest Blvd. know better. The reality is that the existing coffee shops, which are only doing marginally at best, will do even less. Whatever failure or disappointment that visits these businesses, don't blame the Morning Call. They have been promoting the shops in a shameless manner. After multiple articles announcing the opening of a Philadelphia cheesesteak business, this weekend they will review the cheesesteak. How cheesy is that?

above reprinted from January 30, 2015

UPDATE MARCH 30, 2022: Yesterday morning, although I had to cross under a giant crane over Hamilton Street in the 900 block, there was not a person on the street before Government Center at 7th... She was getting coffee to take back to her county job. Seven years later, and nothing has changed on Hamilton. Reilly's City Center continues to tear down our history and build his new taxpayer funded, privately owned empire. The Morning Call continues to put out its Subscriber Exclusives, omissive of the real story downtown.

Mar 29, 2022

Jessica Lenard's Fashion Statement

Fashion Statement is a limited edition 8X10 inch etching by Jessica Lenard (1950-2016).  She had commissioned a large scale giclee print of the piece. That giclee is being presented by Alderfer Auctions on April 6th to introduce Lenard to their audience.  The print measures 42X56inches.

On April 14, the auction house will make available All Day Sucker,  an iconic painting featured over the years in several of her shows.

Those interested in learning more about Lenard and her work will find her website revealing.

above photo of All Day Sucker