Jan 25, 2021

Learning Curve For School Board


Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick hopes that Allentown School Superintendent Thomas Parker stays on. I hope that he finds another job and moves on. We know that he has already tried, with Nashville.

Allentown has already greatly enhanced his resumé. Only 38 years old, he moved here from a much smaller job. Allentown was hell bent on hiring someone of color... all three finalists for the position were minorities. Parker knows that in these woke times, being a minority is a qualifier in itself.

I think that those school board members who hired Parker should consider it a teachable moment. Although I don't expect anybody to fess up to poor decision making, hopefully they will realize that for the next contract, fiscal expertise must be the yardstick.

above reprinted from February 21, 2020

UPDATE JANUARY 25, 2021: These are woke, emotional times...They are also litigious times.  You didn't have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to know that when Parker suspended the history teacher for just attending the Washington Rally, that the teacher's rights were being violated. Even Paul Muschick, who previously was a defender of Parker,  wrote a column questioning the suspension as premature.  Those who follow news, both local and now national,  know that the teacher is suing Allentown School District.  One thing that everyone can agree on, is that the district needs every dollar it has for education.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the school board continue to circle the wagons defending Parker.  Both his defense and lack of judgement are going to be costly.

UPDATE 7:45am: Parker wrote “Because of the emotion and controversy stirred by the events of January 6, 2021, the teacher has been temporarily relieved of his teaching duties until the School District can complete a formal investigation of his involvement,” I would think that "emotion and controversy" would NOT be defensible bases for suspension.

Jan 22, 2021

Translating Biden Into English


As an independent not mesmerized by party politics, I can tell you that our new president is still more politician than savior. This observation is not meant as a criticism, only as a reality check. 

As a 74 year old, I have been following the changing Covid-19 guidelines carefully. Despite Biden's recent speech on the pandemic, there remain discrepancies between federal and state guidelines. There even remain discrepancies between federal guidelines and the esteemed Dr. Fauci.

When Biden said that vaccine production would be put on a wartime schedule,  I knew that both Pfizer and Moderna were already producing their versions at maximum capacity. It took the unchained good doctor to clarify that two more companies were coming on board with their respective vaccines, and that is what would increase the overall supply. When Biden said that he would meet today with his counterpart in Canada, he didn't mention that Trudeau was already unhappy with him. Canada is disappointed by Biden's decision to once again stop the Keystone pipeline, and also wants the US to share some of its Pfizer allotment. While the WHO claims that there can be leeway with the interval between vaccine shots, Dr. Fauci claims that there is no data to support that position.

While I'm grateful that Dr. Fauci is free to set the record straight on the vaccine program, it would be better if no translation was necessary.

Jan 21, 2021

Inauguration Or Beatification


Looking at the memes on facebook yesterday, I was wondering if the country was having an inauguration or a beatification. It's not that Biden is so highly regarded, but rather that Trump was so reviled. While an independent myself,  I have been fascinated by this visceral dislike of Trump by so many people. It even changed the nature of our media venues, from a pretense of objectivity to flaunting their point of view.

I agree with Nikki Haley that it would be a shame to throw out every accomplishment over the last four years, because of whose administration they occurred under.  However, with social media overwhelmed yesterday with people expressing their tears of joy,  we are on an emotional,  rather than rational, honeymoon. 

I expect those that elected Biden, both in the voting booth and on the tube,  to revel in their celebration for months.  If we're lucky enough for this pandemic to end come summer,  there is enormous pent-up demand for everything, and the economy will expand for at least another year. 

Eventually the honeymoon will end, and Biden will have to govern.

Jan 20, 2021

Biden's Poor Prescription


Yesterday, when President elect Biden picked transgendered physician Rachel Levine for his Assistant Secretary Of Health,  her gender was front and center with him.  
“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond," Biden said in a statement. "She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”
While I have no issue with Dr. Levine's gender status, I do have an issue with Biden being so politically correct that he would go out of his way to choose someone because of their unique gender.  Levine is a historic choice, but not deeply qualified.  She was trained as a pediatrician. There are 50 states with health officials, Levine was by no means a star in her pandemic decisions. The nursing homes virus fatality rate in Pennsylvania was abysmal.  While other states also failed their most vulnerable elderly,  why not pick a physician trained in infectious disease,  not just noted for a personal decision about gender identity. 

Jan 19, 2021

Boxing 1930's, Primo Carnera














When Abe Simon fought Joe Louis in 1942, Abe was the biggest heavyweight* fighting. That wasn't the case when Abe began his career in 1935. Primo Carnera was an Italian strongman on the European circus circuit. He fought his first fight in Paris in 1928. It is pretty well known that he was brought to N.Y.C. by mobsters who arranged and managed his fights. The 6'6" giant upset Jack Sharkey in 1933, and held the title for a year until Max Baer had a go at him.

In 1935 Carnera fought the up and coming Joe Louis, who pulverized him into a bloody mess. Primo would return to Europe. Shown in the ring with him in 1933 is Jean Harlow, promoting her movie classic Bombshell.

* 6'7" Buddy Baer, brother of Max, had retired after a beating from Louis earlier in 1942.

reprinted from November 2012

Jan 18, 2021

FlashBack

                   Joe Louis vs. Abe Simon, Madison Square Garden, May 1942

In the 1930's and 40's, slow film emulsion and fast action, required bright light to capture the scene. A Speed Graphic camera, equipped with a large flashbulb gun, was the standard workhorse for the ringside photographer. By the 1960's, smaller format cameras, electronic strobes and faster film were standard equipment.

reprinted from November 2010 

ADDENDUM 2021: In December of 2012,  viewable through this blog's sidebar archive feature,  I produced twenty three Joe Louis era boxing posts.

Jan 16, 2021

Security Overreaction Or Surge Event

I don't know anything about the danger to Biden's inauguration from Trump supporters, but I do see a clear and present danger from the massive security put in place.  Young guardsmen will return to their communities from all over the country, after having spend over a week in close quarters with each other.  Many of these young people, in addition to no social distancing, were maskless much of the time. 

Security for January 20th,  appears to be an overreaction from the mistakes of January 6th.  The ceremony could have been staged in a secure location,  instead of bringing over 20,000 troops to Washington.  

Prior to January 6th,  Tea Party groups and others openly organized bus caravans to that rally. Locally, I have heard of no such organization for this coming event,  plus Washington will be closed to the public for the inauguration. 

I cannot understand why this massing of guardsmen and other security isn't recognized as the surge event it will unfortunately become.

UPDATE JANUARY18,2021: While no security threats materialized over the weekend, the surge event expanded. Guardsmen now number over 25,000 in Washington DC. One hapless fellow was arrested in DC for having a handgun in his vehicle with a brick of ammo. Turns out that he is a security guard, and the gun is licensed in Virginia. In Harrisburg, all that could be found was a couple of anti-Trump protesters.

Jan 15, 2021

Bill White's Insult


Regular readers of this page know that I have issues with the Morning Call editor. I also have taken Bill White to task, for his repetitive serial topics. I always felt that his serial topics, like Eating His Way Through Musikfest, wasted the column space. I suppose with White I should have been careful what I wished for.

Yesterday his column accused everybody who voted for Trump of putting our democracy at tremendous risk. White should know that everybody who voted for Trump didn't attend the rally in Washington or think that the election was stolen. White should know that everybody who did attend the rally did not storm the Capital Building.

I'm offended by White's column, and I didn't even vote for Trump. I was wrong, Bill, stick with judging chocolate cake recipes.

Jan 14, 2021

Morning Call Damage Control


Readers of today's local paper learn with how much historical devotion the Morning Call passed on its legacy to the local historical society.
“It is sad to think about all the history and all of the work that went into compiling that history,” Morning Call Editor-in-Chief Mike Miorelli said. “But we feel very fortunate that the Heritage Museum and the National Museum of Industrial History will give our precious history a good home.”
Readers of this blog and it's sister publication, Allentown Chronicles, know another side of the story. A large portion of the archives were discarded to the landfill. After it was revealed that I obtained a few of the negatives, Morning Call editor Mike Miorelli had a meltdown. The employee who salvaged the material was placed on leave, and his job threatened, unless all material in my possession was returned. I cooperated fully for the sake of the young man's job. I can only assume that the material ended up where Miorelli originally intended, back in the landfill. In a terse email exchange two weeks ago, Miorelli accused me of engaging in half-truths. That term pretty much describes the story in today's paper. 

Addendum: My issues with the paper's story on the archives does not reflect on the reporter, who is excellent. I'm sure her hands were tied in regard to not reporting on the large amount of discarded material.

In the picture above I'm receiving an award from The Morning Call for this blog. Now, under the current leadership, they won't even print a letter to the editor from me.

Jan 13, 2021

Farce On Front Street


Back in the day before the FBI raid on Allentown City Hall,  those interested in corruption in Allentown were pretty much limited to myself and O'Hare.  Missing in action was the Morning Call.  Although they would occasionally use this blog as an unattributed source, they avoided my most controversial exposés.  Among them was my revelations about the Neuweiler Brewery.

Although the FBI and  Justice Department decided to prosecute Pawlowski and Company on nine deals,  I suspect that the menu actually had many more choices.  Among them may have been the current Neuweiler Brewery deal.  When Ruckus Brewing was introduced as an applicant for the Neuweiler Brewery, I wrote about it here, way back in 2013.  My research revealed that Ruckus had no experience at the time in either actual beer brewing or real estate.  What they did have was a business consultant very connected to the administration in Allentown, Mike Fleck.

Although Pawlowski and Fleck were indicted and convicted,  the Allentown Commercial Industrial Development Authority proceeded with handing over the brewery to Ruckus.  Ruckus received numerous deadline extensions on their application, and represented the brewery as a done deal to raise cash. All these irregularities were previously reported on this blog, and ignored by the local press. They are currently permitted to rent out space as is, in a building in which the previous owner was arrested and jailed for not correcting code violations.

When shenanigans occur in Allentown,  this blog is often the first source to chronicle the questionable activity.

For the full story on the Neuweiler Brewery, please follow the links provided below. 

Post on Neuweiler Brewery from May 29, 2008

Post on Neuweiler Brewery July 11, 2012

Sequel to July 11, Post (July 16, 2012)

Post on Neuweiler Brewery May 2, 2013

Post on Neuweiler Brewery Jan. 31, 2013

The Neuweiler Brewery, A Pawlowski/Fleck Shenanigan, July 8, 2015

Morning Call Catches Up To Molovinsky On Neuweiler Sept. 30, 2015

above reprinted from August of 2019

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 27, 2020: The Morning Call reports today that the project has applied for a loan from the NIZ board, and will use the distribution portion for their own offices. The iconic brewery section has been allowed to deteriorate beyond practical salvation. However, being that it is really our tax money being used for private gain, I expect that down the road, we will pay to restore it anyway. Scott Unger, director of the ACIDA states that “Self-occupancy is the highest level of commitment." What that really means is that the boys haven't found a real tenant, but let that slide, like everything else about this project. 

UPDATE JANUARY 13, 2021: A local neighbor reports that clean-out activity has begun from the rear of the property. To him and many others who have invested in the neighborhood, the Neuweiler project is a positive development. I understand their perspective, and my research and reporting was not intended to extinguish their enthusiasm.  I have chronicled some of the back room shenanigans involved in getting the property to this point. I say some, because confidentiality demands that some calls and meetings remain unreported.   

Jan 12, 2021

Mayor For A Block


Although I've titled this image Mayor For A Block, I could have just as easily called it The Future Mayor. When the Budweiser Wagon left the staging area on 10th Street, and rounded the corner down Hamilton, Julio Guridy had the seat of honor. Although I do not believe that Pawlowski will succeed in his try for the governorship, we now know that his ambitions extend beyond Allentown. When he does leave City Hall, Julio is the likely successor. Regardless, I have enjoyed using the Budweiser Wagon as a vehicle for my photography.

photocredit:michael molovinsky

Click on photograph to enlarge.

reprinted from September of 2013

UPDATE JANUARY 12, 2021: Julio has decided to enter the crowded Democratic mayoral primary this coming spring.  Over the years I have written about several of the announced candidates numerous times. Such reprints are not intended as political endorsements.

Jan 11, 2021

Aftermath Of Washington Riot


The aftermath of last week's riot in Washington has both national and local consequences. I find Nancy Pelosi's comment about protesters choosing their whiteness over democracy offensive. While some protesting the election may be racists, most people were there because they bought into the notion, however misguided,  that the election wasn't fair. You might say that Pelosi is putting accusations of racism ahead of truth. In addition to being divisive, I doubt that such an accusation will bring anybody new into her tent.

Locally, an Allentown district teacher was suspended for participating in the protest. It has not been determined if he entered the Capital Building, so such a suspension seems premature to me, not unlike a tar and feathering.  Paul Muschick, Morning Call columnist, has an excellent piece on the suspension. Muschick has stepped up to the plate since being assigned the column, and has produced many insightful pieces.

While I'm referring to a Morning Call columnist, let me also compliment the many excellent reporters at the paper.  While I'm a frequent critic of the Morning Call,  my complaints only concern  the opinion page policy. That page is an open door for certain people and topics, and completely closed to others.

Jan 8, 2021

2nd & 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

Jan 7, 2021

Enough Is Enough

Lindsey Graham,  Republican from South Carolina, had planned on supporting the effort to challenge the Electoral College Certification on Wednesday. After the riot yesterday he changed his mind, saying enough is enough.   

Scott Perry,  Pennsylvania congressman from the Harrisburg area, continued on with his plans to object.

Here locally, the Lehigh Valley Tea Party sponsored a bus going to Washington yesterday. Hopefully those aboard refrained from storming the Capitol Building.

Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick wrote that he may well change his registration from Republican to independent.  He also suggested that Pat Toomey's disassociation with Trump may have been easy, because he had announced that he was not seeking reelection.  There are plenty of Republicans, like Mitt Romney, who have been critical and are not retiring from political life. 

The Trump diehards are hoping that their party turns to the right.  I'm hoping that instead the party decides to do the right thing.

ADDENDUM: I believe that Toomey's positions have been sincere, and not affected by any election  calculus.

Tom Carroll, leader of the local Tea Party, claims that Antifa, masquerading as Trump supporters,  initiated  storming the capital, and only then were followed by Trump supporters.  His explanation seems like an attempt to dilute responsibility.

Jan 6, 2021

Lehigh Valley History, A Thing Of Wonder Gone

The former greenhouse at the current Trexler Park was the pride of Harry and Mary Trexler. The General was very specific in his will about its future;
I, Harry C. Trexler declare this to be my last Will and Testament: ......into the Treasury of the City of Allentown, for the perpetual maintenance of said Park, (Trexler) as well as the Greenhouse thereon located. This bequest shall include all the plants and other contents of said Greenhouse (1929)
Although nobody in charge of Allentown remembers, the greenhouse was a thing of wonder. Full of banana trees and other tropical plants, it was a true escape from winter for all visitors. Its demolition was a project that the Wildlands Conservancy would have loved. The park director at the time touted all the money in maintenance to be saved. He then took that projected money and planted the southeast section of the park along Cedar Creek in natural species. Last year Allentown Park Department cut down all those trees planted at the time, and we now have nothing to show for our loss of the greenhouse.

Flash ahead twenty years, and South Whitehall Township will demolish another thing of wonder, if not stopped. The Wildlands Conservancy paid an engineering firm to compromise their credibility with an absurd report, on how expensive it would be to keep Wehr's Dam. I will not let the dam go quietly.

reprinted from November of 2015

UPDATE JANUARY 6, 2021: When South Whitehall voters decided by referendum to keep their iconic dam,  it never occurred to them that five years later it would still be in jeopardy.  This threat is from a combination of a conspiring politician,  an agenda driven organization and a compromised press.

Tori Morgan, perpetual president of the South Whitehall Commissioners, has been on board with the Wildlands Conservancy about demolishing Wehr's Dam since 2013.  When the Wildlands created the township's park master plan, they had already erased the dam off the drawing board.  When Morgan devised the referendum,  she never expected it to pass.  She thought that it would provide political cover for demolishing the popular structure. 

After the referendum passed,  the Wildlands Conservancy got busy working with their associates in the Harrisburg Bureau of This and That, finding more faults with the dam, to inflate its repair cost beyond the amount approved by the referendum.

Although I have documented the correspondence between the Wildlands and Harrisburg,  the Morning Call editor refuses to cover the story.

Jan 5, 2021

Stairway To Shame


In the mid 1930's, Allentown, and especially its park system, was endowed with magnificent stone edifices, courtesy of the WPA; Works Progress Administration.  This was a new deal program designed to provide employment during the aftermath of the depression.  Stone masons from all over the country converged on this city and built structures which are irreplaceable.  The walls and  step structures in Lehigh Parkway, as the Union Terrace amphitheater, are legacies which must be protected.  Pictured above is the grand stairway from Lawrence Street (Martin Luther King Drive) up to Union Street, built in 1936.  The steps are in a state of disrepair.  They lead to the great Union Street Retaining Wall, fifty feet high and two blocks long, which was completed in 1937.  I call upon the Trexler Trust and Allentonians of memory,  to insist these steps are re-pointed and preserved.  The current Administration knows nothing of our past, and really has no commitment to our future.  Save the things in Allentown that matter. 

above reprinted from September 18, 2008 

UPDATE JANUARY 5, 2021:Although it would take me many years, and along the way I inadvertently offended many people,  eventually I got the steps at Fountain Park and other structures repointed.  While my efforts were never acknowledged, and my calls are still never returned,  I will through this blog continue to advocate for the traditional park system.

Jan 4, 2021

Lehigh Valley Railroad Piers

In this era of class warfare, while we worry that the rich are only paying 35% income tax, instead of 39%, let us be grateful that once upon a time we had the Robber Barons. In this era when we have to give a grant for some woman to open a small cookie shop on Hamilton Street, let us be grateful that men built railroads with private money. Let us be grateful that incredible feats of private enterprise built piers, bridges and trestles. Trains allowed us to move vast amounts of raw and finished materials across America. This network allowed us to protect ourselves during two World Wars, and provided the prosperity upon which we now rest. The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks extended from their piers in New Jersey to the shores of Lake Erie. The Mile Long Pier in Jersey City was the scene of German sabotage in 1916. A train full of munitions, awaiting shipment to Europe, was blown up on July 30th of that year. In 1914, the railroad built the longest ore pier in the world, in Bayonne. The ore would come from Chile, through the new Panama Canal, for shipment to Bethlehem. 

  reprinted from February of 2011

Jan 1, 2021

Blogging, The Last Watchtower


Anybody who buys The Morning Call on a Monday knows what slim pickings are. The paper is produced on Friday, with a one man weekend crew, to cover the police blotter. There's hardly enough paper to cover the bottom of a bird cage. That leaves the news junkies forced to read the likes of me.

 I'm fascinated with how much Allentown has changed within the last 50 years, and find the railroads  a good metaphor. In my youth the city was serviced by several rail branch lines with dozens of sidings, supplying many industries with raw materials to produce products distributed all over the country. Those industries fostered a large middle class, and a high standard of living. We were the truck capital of the world, we were home to the first transistors, and a retail legend. The tower shown above in 1963, and the gas tank in the background, were on Union Street. Although they are both now gone, this blogger will continue to combine history, news and commentary for those of us who still remember a different era.

reprinted from November of 2013

UPDATE JANUARY 1, 2021: This post is over seven years old, from a time when I still followed local politics more closely. Although I will still occasionally cover a current event,  often I now feel more comfortable with our local past than our future. The remaining Morning Call staff is upset because it seems that the paper may once again change hands, from Tribune to MediaNews. While MediaNews sheds real estate, Tribune already gave up the 6th Street headquarters. If the acquisition happens, the Morning Call would be the biggest paper in that company's Pennsylvania portfolio. While a threat to those smaller papers, it might actually be an opportunity for the Morning Call.

Dec 31, 2020

The Diminishing Tracks Of Allentown


I have been intrigued with the trolley freight, although I have no personal memory of the service. This photo from March of 1952 shows the end of that era, with a freight trolley being loaded on a flatbed rail car, for a short run to Bethlehem Steel to be scrapped. Within a year there would be no more trolley service of any kind in Allentown. Within two decades many of the businesses serviced by the trolley freight would be gone. In another decade most of the railroad tracks would also have vanished.

reprinted from December of 2013

Dec 30, 2020

The Morning Call Incident


The Morning Call, after not paying rent for many months, finally had to give up its space in their former building this fall. Management left behind years of their archives in storage drawers, mostly in microfilm format. 

A young man working for a cleanout company recognized the historical significance of the material, and rescued several of the films from their landfill fate. When he outlined the situation on Allentown Chronicles,  the paper's management became embarrassed, and in turn pressured the contractor to retrieve the material from its rescuer.

Although the posts have been removed from the facebook page,  the comments were interesting.  Some people thought the material should be donated to the local historical society, while others thought that it should go to the reporters/photographers who created it.  Any indignation should have been directed to the Morning Call management, who had discarded the archives in the first place.

UPDATE 9:00am:  I have been contacted backchannel by the Morning Call management, who take offense at this post.  They state that they have met with the local historical society numerous times,  and have given that society archival material for a future show.  
They question my integrity and accuse me of dealing in half truths.  In reality they are a former tenant who discarded storage furniture and its contents.  As for integrity, they will not publish material submitted by myself and others for years,  on topics which they routinely suppress and cover up.

UPDATE 7:00pm: Although the Morning Call had no problem with archival material being hauled to the landfill,  they could not tolerate me being in procession of any of it.  The young man who rescued the material was told not to report to work unless he could bring back that material with him. For the sake of his employment, we arranged for the material to be returned this afternoon. 

Dec 29, 2020

Browne Power


Yesterday, the state senate passed Pat Browne's proposal to demolish the state hospital by a 49 to 0 vote. This is in spite of a local petition effort to save the historic campus of buildings.

Although the original portion of the plan to sell the property to a Doylestown developer has been set aside, which developer ends up with the cleared parcel remains to be seen. Considering Browne's influence, it may well be the Doylestown guy, or some proxy for him.

Although different locals are offended by almost every element of this screenplay, my attention is focused on the power of Pat Browne.  He is the same senator who created the J.B. Reilly empire called the NIZ.

But as amazing as Browne's power is, we must also marvel at the ineptitude of state government in Pennsylvania. Since the reformer governor Wolf was elected, we haven't seen one reform in this state. We still have the highest gas tax. We still have the largest number of representatives in a state house. We still have dozens of overpaid commissions who do nothing but collect a salary.

I snickered at the news about exploring doing away with school taxes. They have been saying that since 1975. First it was going to be the lottery, You gotta play to win. Then it was the casinos.

What we have in Harrisburg is nothing but a club of mutual back scratchers. How else could anybody explain a 49 to 0 vote.

Morning Call file photo 

reprinted from June of 2019

UPDATE DECEMBER 29, 2020: Nothing pictured above still exists. The last portion of the main building with the cupola was demolished yesterday. Although local developer Nat Hyman offered to purchase the campus and preserve the most iconic buildings, the state plowed ahead with its scheme.

Dec 28, 2020

A Trip Around Allentown


The other day on a trip around town,  I drove past the current house on 2nd Street where my grandfather first lived when he came to Allentown in 1895.  A couple minutes later,  I drove by my grandparents house that I remember, near Sacred Heart Hospital.  It's the house where my father and his four siblings grew up.  Earlier that morning I was on the south side, where my parents lived when I grew up.  Allentown is a small place, I even drove past a couple of houses that I lived in as an adult.

In the course of writing the political aspect of this blog, I sometimes clash with the millennials and X'ers,  who think that my observations are so historically based that they're no longer relevant.  Perhaps they think that I'm frozen in time,  still eating strawberry pie at the Patio restaurant in Hess's.  It is true that I remember an Allentown very different than the current one,  but I was here and present, for the transition.

Yesterday, we learned that one NIZ baron got $28 million,  out of a total of $29 million, of state tax money toward his portfolio of buildings.  Years ago, there were so many business leaders in Allentown that they had a special club for lunch, named the Livingston.  In today's Allentown, the barons could all met at one table for four, and there would still be empty seats.

photo:  I'm on the front lawn in Little Lehigh Manor, around 1949.  

ABOVE REPRINTED FROM APRIL OF 2016

UPDATE DECEMBER 28, 2020: Since May of 2007, molovinsky on allentown has been writing inconvenient truths about this former All American City.  I provide no favor to any institution or politician, and have become a rather unpopular person in the process. I like to think that those on a quest for historical local truth will find this blog's search engine and archives useful.  In March of 2018,  I started Allentown Chronicles, a facebook group to enhance Allentown centric content on that venue. 

Dec 25, 2020

A Snowy Morning In Jerusalem



Snow is a rare occurrence in Jerusalem, but on January 10th (2013) it snowed 6 inches, the biggest storm since 1992.  Although this blog concentrates on local political commentary, I do indulge in a few distractions. Among those are local history, boxing from the Joe Louis era, and stories from the Holy Land.  With all topics, the quality of the visual image presented here is paramount to me.

reprinted from February of 2013

Dec 24, 2020

Christmas City


In 1937, Bethlehem was still struggling from the Great Depression. In December of that year, the Star was built on top of the mountain, elaborate street decorations were installed, and the city began calling itself  Christmas City.

Dec 23, 2020

Before Netflix

There was a time in our center cities when movie theaters dominated the cultural scene. Few of these old theaters still exist, such as the Boyd in Bethlehem. Allentown had no less than six movie houses, either on or directly off Hamilton Street. Several smaller theaters were scattered in different neighborhoods, such as the Allen and Town. On Hamilton Street itself, the Colonial and Rialto dominated. Both large ornate theaters, with balconies. 

 




The elaborate promotion shown above for the movie Grand Hotel dates back to 1932. I have been unable to identify which theater or city is shown. The photograph was taken by a professional photographer named Harris, who worked out of the Farr Building in Easton.

reprinted from December of 2009

Dec 22, 2020

Nagy Novelty Company

In Downtown Allentown's commercial years, stores extended 3 blocks out from Hamilton Street. The only remaining remnant of that era is the parking meters, which apparently haven't noticed that the stores have been gone now for over 30 years. A magic shop mentioned in the previous post was on 9th Street, between Linden and Turner. On 8th Street, also a couple blocks off Hamilton, was the Nagy Novelty Company. The dictionary defines novelty as a small, often cheap, cleverly made article, usually for amusement. The Nagy's had thousands of them, floor to ceiling. There were little jokes and gags, sometimes risque, passed around parties in the 40's and 50's. When you pulled " Miss Lola, The Snappy Bubble Dancer" leg's out, your finger got snapped. 

The Nagy's, an ancient father, son and dog, stayed open till around 1980. I was never sure which one was the son. To me, as an aficionado of the old and curious, the store was a shrine. Items which they sold for a few cents, now sell on ebay for many dollars. They manufactured their own greeting cards. Shown here is the front and inside of an embossed card probably dating back to the 1920's.

reprinted from December of 2008

Dec 21, 2020

The Devil Of Ocean Paradise


The resort town's boardwalk is partially open during the cold winter months for the hardy of spirit.  The stores that remain open were purchased mostly by middle eastern immigrants, who overpaid for their piece of the American dream in the dying resort.  Their mortgage demands every nickel they can muster,  and their large families are eager to practice their broken English on the few customers willing to brave the boardwalk's cold winter wind.

All their stores sell the same things...  brightly colored candy, souvenirs and small toys designed to make children nag and beg.  Along with the stores there is a strip of game stands, where during the warm summer breezes,  fathers and boyfriends hope to win a stuffed animal.  During the winter, the steel garage doors are closed on all these stands, except for one.  The immigrants with their broken English cannot lure in players, but the Devil can.

Oversized brightly colored stuffed animals adorn the stand. Music from the 70's pulses from one loud speaker,  while the Devil commands the occasional passing man to "show her that you care by winning a bear."  Please don't misunderstand me, he is not Satan himself, but a minor devil.  He can give you a cold, or ruin a first date,  but he has no power over life and death.  Even those he afflicts can purchase redemption.... Inside the stores there are chocolate wafers for sale,  covered with white candy sprinkles.  For a mere $26 a pound, the bad omen can be eaten away.

This minor devil came from Coney Island a decade ago.  Brooklyn's Brighton Beach area started gentrifying in the late 90's, and the dress up spread to adjoining Coney.  Doc, the minor devil, thrived on hearty spirits, but not heady minds.  His move to Ocean Paradise was a win-win.  While the owning immigrant gets to keep almost all the money the stand takes in,  Doc gets to dispense a headache or two each weekend.  He has a room at a nearby old motel owned by the same family, and enjoys the middle eastern food that he has eaten since time immemorial.

If you walk on the boardwalk during the winter, you better dress warm, and not be tempted to show her that you care.

reprinted from November of 2018

Dec 18, 2020

Sledding In Allentown


The photograph shown above is from 1958. It was taken in Little Lehigh Manor, the 1940's era housing development located above Lehigh Parkway's south ridge. I had the pleasure of growing up in that neighborhood. In yesterday's post, the hill favored by the kids of that neighborhood was featured.

Other popular sledding hills were in Allentown's west end,  behind Cedar Crest College, and Ott Street, between Livingston and Greenleaf Streets.  Years ago, a bridge crossed the creek by the park office at 30th and Parkway Blvd., with a parking area for sledders by the Cedar Crest hill. The Ott Street hill was closed to cars by the city, as an accommodation for sledders.  None of these hills are now accessible to a kid with a sled.

photo courtesy of S. Williams

reprinted from previous years

Dec 17, 2020

The Winter Of My Discontent


With the forecast of another snowstorm coming Wednesday evening, my memory turns to the winter of 1993-94. I was living on a long corner on Union Street, in Hamilton Park. By this time in 1994, the path from my front door to the sidewalk was like a snow tunnel, with walls over three feet high. The busy intersection had a crossing guard, and it was important that I kept the corner clear, constantly digging through the plow curl from two directions.  The reason I remember that winter wasn't because of my house, but at the time I maintained buildings in center city. My days consisted mostly of salting, chopping and shoveling, one property after another, from one snowstorm after another. Driving my station wagon, filled with 50lb. salt bags, up the alleys was like a kiddie ride at Dorney Park, the ruts would steer the car, no hands were necessary. 

This post is somewhat unusual for me. I have for the most part maintained a privacy wall between my business and my blogging. Tomorrow evening, The Tenant Association of Allentown will complain to City Council about slumlords; I thought that in the interest of balance I would give a glimpse into conscientious landlording. Although the meeting might be cancelled once again because of the snow, Allentown's many good landlords will still be out shoveling the sidewalks.

reprinted from February of 2014

photocredit: Billy Mack

Dec 16, 2020

Drag Queens vs Pip The Mouse


This year when parents take their little ones downtown to holiday shop, they can either show them Pip The Mouse or Drag Queen Wigs.

Pip The Mouse is being featured in the window of the former Hamilton Plaza, on the site of the former Hess's Department Store. The current building owners sued the city because the NIZ creates a most unlevel playing field for commercial real estate. 

The Drag Queen show is on the Arts Walk. The Arts Walk links various Reilly/NIZ/Reilly buildings together on the off Hamilton Street venue. Putting art in empty storefront windows is a long time commerical stragedy. Reilly now has taken to putting art galleries in hopelessly empty storerooms. There is another popup gallery on Hamilton Street itself.

The Drag Queen show is being publicized on the Morning Call. It's hard to know which is more real... Pip The Mouse, Drag Queen shows, or parents taking their kids downtown in Allentown?

Dec 15, 2020

A Lehigh Parkway Vendetta


Over the years each summer people began to look forward to the wildflower garden,  which surrounded the Stone & Log House in Lehigh Parkway.  In the winter, occasionally someone would joke that the bearded man who lived there should dress like Santa Claus for Lights In The Parkway.

Needless to say, Michael Adams was shocked and upset when he was recently evicted from the house, where he lived for over 10 years.  He felt  assaulted again when the park department completely tore away the flower gardens that he cultivated for over a decade.

He'll be the first to tell you that for a long time he was a Pawlowski supporter.  He was surprised when he first got the eviction order referencing a large amount for unpaid rent.  He had a long standing agreement that in exchange for living there,  he would at his own expense both upgrade and maintain the property. Unfortunately for Michael, that arrangement was never written out.

Much like Pawlowski turning on his former supporter, the changes made to the house's outside by the park department are both startling and stark.

above reprinted from December of 2017

UPDATE DECEMBER OF 2020: Former Mayor Pawlowski is incarcerated in Danbury, Connecticut for corruption. Michael Adams is now cultivating warm weather flora on the Gulf of Mexico. 

Dec 14, 2020

$100 A Week

In 1935, a Jewish boy earning $35 a week carrying 300 pound blocks of ice, was offered three times more to fight; win, lose or draw. For one hundred dollars a week, Jock Whitney, British aristocrat and sportsman, owned Abe Simon. Abe won his first 14 fights, 12 by knockout. On his climb to fight Louis in 1941 he would knock out 27 opponents, including Jersey Joe Walcott.
reprinted from December 2012 

This blog has produced numerous posts chronicling the Joe Louis boxing era, many featuring Abe Simon, a Jewish heavyweight of the era; Simon and my mother were cousins. Lately, Allentown political shenanigans have allowed me little time and space to visit Madison Square Garden in the early 1940's. During the next couple of weeks I will reprint some of the Simon posts, while still assigning staff to City Hall. One of my attractions to the boxing world is the black and white photography produced during that era. The public would listen to the fights on the radio, and then see the photographs in the newspapers the following day.  I refer fight fans to December of 2012,  which can be found on the archive list on the right sidebar. 

reprinted from December 2014

Dec 11, 2020

Saving The Queen City Airport


When I grew up on Liberator Ave., I would walk up Catalina Ave. toward school, which was at the end of Coronado. The streets were named for the Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and the neighborhood was next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing. Today this small airport is known as Queen City, and is threatened by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
1944 was the first full year of the operation for the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania factory. Consolidated Vultee handled over $100M in wartime contracts at their Allentown plant where they produced TBY-2 Sea Wolves, components parts for B-24 Liberator bombers and other essential armaments and products for the war effort.
Pawlowski covets this unique part of our history to expand the tax base. What he doesn't understand is that more housing or commercial space is not in Allentown's best long term interest. Unfortunately, long term interest is not a term understood by our current leadership. There is a whole development of started houses off S. 12th St. and Mack Blvd. which were never completed. There are filled in foundations on 8th Street, also never completed. More housing is the last thing both the real estate market and school system need. Likewise, the existing commercial sector has been struggling to maintain an acceptable occupancy rate. Queen City airport is an unique asset to Allentown. If LVIA does successfully expand, a separate airport for small planes is very desirable for safety. Considering Pawlowski's predetermined objective, I question whether he should have been appointed to the LVIA Board.

above reprinted from 2011

UPDATE DECEMBER 11, 2020: Queen City Airport ended up being retained by LVIA.  Ed Pawlowski was only finally dislodged from Allentown by the federal authorities.  This blog takes pride in having recognized his schemes for what they were, long before the local politicians or press.

Dec 10, 2020

Molovinsky And The Morning Call


The article about Hooks Seafood restaurant closing states that this type of failure isn't unusual in an urban renewal area, according to experts. So says the Morning Call.  The article also states that The $6 million renovation of the long-closed Sal's Spaghetti House included a crystal chandelier from Hess's department store.... As you can see from my photograph above, Sal's wasn't renovated. The long closed former spaghetti house was demolished, and a new building was constructed in its place.  Now, I can understand the paper not knowing this, after all, the building is over a quarter block away from the newspaper building.  Assuming that people at the Morning Call read the paper, apparently nobody caught the error, twice. This was the second time in about a week that this misinformation was printed. However, this post is about the important part of the story, not covered by the paper.

The restaurant was built pre-NIZ. Save for a $50,000 city grant, the entire cost was borne by the owner. It happens that the owner and his wife were retired from a very lucrative business, and always wanted to own a high end restaurant. Opened as the Cosmopolitan, it was high end indeed.  When that failed to attract enough well heeled, it was transformed into the more price friendly Hook Seafood. However, with the NIZ and Reilly's hospitality group of eateries, the market was now over-saturated.

The owner of the restaurant when asked about lack of foot traffic downtown stated, "I'm not going to get judgmental or say anything negative." Those are traits that nobody accuses this blogger of having. 

reprinted from March of 2017

UPDATE DECEMBER 10, 2020: Years ago after they built the Cosmopolitan, I asked Joe Clark what he thought about it. He said that he would like to be the second owner.  Although I don't know the results of the auction for the property, I wouldn't be surprised to see his name.  Although I often take the Morning Call to task, we are lucky to still have our newspaper... I have been a subscriber for over fifty years.

photocredit:molovinsky- site of the former Sal's Spaghetti House being prepared for new foundation

Dec 9, 2020

The Yarns In Allentown


The yarns in Allentown used to come from the Tucker Yarn Company, formerly on Hamilton Street, now they come from the Morning Call, formerly located at 6th and Linden Streets.  Both the yarn store and the newspaper building are now owned by J.B. Reilly.  As the Tuckers now knit at home,  so do the reporters now write their articles in their homes. 

The latest yarn from the paper is that Reilly's apartments are 99% full, so he must build more. These articles are spoon fed to the hungry reporters,  who do not question the press releases.  I believe that in reality the market for office space has flattened out,  but with the taxpayers picking up the tab, Reilly wants to keep building, anyway.  I believe that if Reilly's apartments had anywhere near the occupancy rate that he claims, downtown wouldn't be such a dead zone at night and during the weekends.

This week a possible main contender for mayor announced his deliberations on a local blog, instead of the newspaper... He implied that the Morning Call has been failing the community.  I know of another developer, J. B. Reilly, who would disagree with that assessment. 

photocredit:Tucker Yarn Company by Molovinsky

Dec 8, 2020

Junkyard Train

Today, once again we ride a freight train of Allentown's great industrial past. In the early 1970's, the Redevelopment Authority tore down the neighborhood on either side of the Lehigh Street hill. At that time they had persuaded Conrail to move the the Barber's Quarry Branch line exclusively to the southern side of the Little Lehigh. The branch had crossed over and back to service the great Wire Mill. After crossing Lehigh Street, the train would proceed along the creek passing under the 8th Street Bridge. At the 10th Street crossing it would service another great industrial giant, Traylor Engineering. In 2009 President Obama visited a successor, Allentown Manufacturing, which has since closed. The line would continue along the creek until it turned north along Cedar Creek to Union Terrace. After crossing Hamilton Street by the current Hamilton Family Diner, it would end at the current park department building. Nothing remains of the line, the tracks were removed. The Allentown Economic Development Corporation recently received a grant to rebuild the line to 10th Street, even though the plant Obama visited has closed. The neighboring former Mack Plant now houses a go cart track. How the money will be squandered remains to be seen. The top photograph was taken by local train historian Mark Rabenold in 1989. It shows the later relocated section of the track that was just east of the Lehigh Street crossing.

reprinted from March of 2011

Dec 7, 2020

A Reflection On Christmas Lights

When I was a child, when it came to Christmas lights, more seemed better. I recall my father taking us to see a house out on Union Street, beyond Union Terrace, which decorated lawn, house and roof. The home owner continued that tradition for many years, until he became too old to perform that labor of love. 

When I became older and more visual, I found less decorations more tasteful. Not only was I drawn to less, but also older. Over the years my camera would turn to the retro decorations, especially those faded and shopworn. The film elmusion has held up better than my memory...I can only guess where the photo above was taken. 

Today's inflatables are not, in my opinion, camera worthy.

Dec 4, 2020

A Bastard Blogger and Christmas Lights In Parkway


As dusk falls, cars start entering Lehigh Parkway to enjoy the annual Christmas light display.  In the darkness they drive past the top of the Double Stairwell, built by the WPA in 1935. It was designed as the signature structure in the park. In daylight they would see that the top landing is breaking up, and the subsequent landings down the double stairs are even in worse condition. These cracked landings allow seeping water to undermine the steps below them,  jeopardizing the entire structure.  I have been reporting these deteriorating conditions to the Park Department for six years. While nothing has been done to rehab this irreplaceable structure, the department is actively seeking grants to build another new park, near the old incinerator plant off Basin Street.

As a long time public critic of the former Pawlowski administration,  his park directors may have dismissed my criticism of park policy as political discontent. However, with the current mayor and park director I have a long time rapport, but to no apparent avail.

When I drive through the park I don't see the pretty lights, but a sad situation. I see crumbling WPA structures. I see neglect and misplaced priorities.

reprinted from December of 2019 

UPDATE DECEMBER 2020: The Park Department did repair the vertical surfaces on the stairwell structure this past summer, but not the landings. Because the landing surfaces are essential to maintain the structural integrity, I will keep up my campaign for such repair.

Dec 3, 2020

Vibrant Downtown Living


On Saturday at 2:00pm, on a clear sunny afternoon, I drove down Hamilton Street. Between 10th and 7th Streets there were only four people.  Two of them were not a asset to center city, under any criteria.  The other two were almost at 7th, and carrying bags.  I suspect they may have been shopping at Villa, on 8th and Hamilton.  Although downtown apologists and cheerleaders will say that my report isn't true, unfortunately, it is all too true...especially on Saturdays.

J. B. Reilly's financially attainable apartments in the former Holiday Inn are just the beginning of his entry into the prevailing rental market.  There is no way that he will even attempt for the Strata rents in his new apartments on S. 8th Street, when they are completed.  Although he and the Morning Call refer to center city as vibrant, it is in fact a dead zone.  The paper and cheerleaders on local social media have bragged that these new apartment units are being financed without the NIZ. Actually, the NIZ was never to include residential. Offices and stores on the first floor of these residential buildings does allow Reilly to tap some NIZ benefits. Furthermore, there is no scrutiny of the prorations by the ANIZDA board.  Adrian Shanker,  head of the local gay and lesbian organization, is a recent appointee to the board. He managed to see that the guidelines were changed to include gays with other minority contractors,  that should be hired by the developers.*

When Reilly is done building his new attainable rate apartments,  Allentown may become worse than it is now.  Allentown's problem isn't a lack of affordable housing, but rather a surplus of it. In that sense, Reilly is only contributing to the problem. Likewise, so are the new units in former converted factories.

* I'm not a fan of rewarding contracts based on minority ownership of any kind.  The practice is not merit based, and has been exploited. While this blog does not adhere to political correctness standards, Shanker has introduced some new thinking into the Good Old Boy Club called ANIZDA.  More on that in a future post.

reprinted from July of 2019

UPDATE DECEMBER 3, 2020: The above piece was written pre-pandemic, and the empty streets were not because of the virus.
Over time I have mellowed in my criticism of the NIZ.  For better or worse, it is the new Allentown. However,  that attitude shift doesn't mean my scrutiny of the program or its components will cease... For example, the consequences of the aforementioned residential aspect.  
The biggest irony in the Lehigh Valley is the Morning Call...While we still do have a local paper,  it has enabled corruption, deception and misinformation.

Dec 2, 2020

Molovinsky Christmas Tour


Yesterday I posted about Bill White's recommended Christmas Light tours.  I hope that caravans of  new SUV's are taking White's tours, because he publishes his recommendations every year.  Bill, after all these years,  has his job down almost on autopilot;  Christmas light tours,  Eating his way through Musikfest,  Cake contest at fair, Grammar columns,  Hall of Shame, Worst sentence writer. etc., etc.

Anyway, I recommend that nobody take my light tour,  it's in the hood in center city Allentown. Actually, the block shown has had its share of crime in recent years. The alley is narrow,  so there is no passing another car.  The double parkers get very annoyed if you beep your horn.  Best to stick with White's tours out in suburbia, with the inflated decorations that are flaccid during the day.  Personally,  I prefer the center city house decorations.  There is something so much more inspiring about decorating a low income house, many of which are rentals.  It makes me feel better and more hopeful about downtown.

reprinted from December of 2017

Dec 1, 2020

WPA, A Work In Progress

On Labor Day in 2011, The Morning Call ran a story about my efforts in regard to the neglected WPA structures, and announced my upcoming meeting at the Allentown Library. Among those in attendance at that meeting was Karen El-Chaar, director of Friends Of The Allentown Parks. Later that year, I took El-Chaar on a tour of the WPA structures throughout the park system. In 2013, I conducted my first tour of the WPA in Lehigh Parkway, in conjunction with Friends Of The Parks. This year, El-Chaar successfully secured a grant from The Trexler Trust, which is currently being used to restore the steps at Fountain Park. The grant is being supervised by Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director. The work is being done by Dietrich Stonemasonry, and managed by parks supervisor, Rick Holtzman.

Although much work remains to be done, it's my sense that all the decision makers mentioned above, are developing a greater appreciation of the unique gift that the WPA bestowed upon the Allentown park system.  I'm hoping that both that interest and work continues this coming spring and summer, especially in preserving the remaining portion of the wall in Lehigh Parkway.

reprinted from October of 2015


molovinsky on allentown is published weekdays Monday thru Friday.  Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym. Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers. Your readership is appreciated.

UPDATE DECEMBER 1, 2020: Karen El-Chaar is now director of parks. Because she has an appreciation of the WPA, it is my hope that the next mayor has the insight to retain her in that position. Work finally began on the double stairway in Lehigh Parkway.  While the vertical surfaces have been restored, the flat landings at the top and on the stair landings remain to be done.  

Nov 30, 2020

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 from 2015)

Nov 27, 2020

Morning Call Still Promoting For Reilly


On Friday, the Morning Call ran a special on Hess's. I could tell that the reporter actually never experienced the store, but I neither fault him or the paper for that. There are few places to find historical perspective on Allentown anymore,  this blog being one of them. But, what I do fault the paper for is the following line; Today, Allentown is undergoing a transformation that has brought an arena and high-end businesses and restaurants to the area dominated by Hess's.

Allentown becoming a dining destination is wishful thinking.  Allentown again becoming a high end shopping district is delusional.   Sage and the Moravian Bookstore were induced by J.B. Reilly to open here with irresistibly cheap rent, they were not attracted by any success of the area.  Furthermore,  after the failure of Shula's, it diminishes the paper's credibility to continue the Reilly NIZ myth.

At some point, after it was apparent to others, the paper starting portraying the disgraced city government for what it is.  At what point will the paper realize that the arena zone is a taxpayer funded, privately owned bonanza,  for just a few people.

reprinted from January of 2016 

UPDATE NOVEMBER 27, 2020: Since the above was written nearly four years ago,  both Sage and the Moravian Bookstore are gone.  While the former mercantile district may be able to survive as a dining destination after the pandemic, its shopping days are clearly over. Dining's survival will depend on the Parking Authority,  no meal is worth an overpriced parking ticket.  

Nov 26, 2020

Allentown's Fading Memories

I have written recently that the market for Allentown memorabilia was closing fast. With so many new comers to the area, and the graying of the old timers, those interested in acquiring such objects are far and few between. Nostalgia is a different story. The internet allows former Allentonians to remember the good old days. In Allentown's case, many feel that the expression is unfortunately very true. Shown above is the first mayor for life, Joe Daddona, with Willie Restum. Willie was a nationally known sax player, who never forgot his Allentown roots in the Syrian 6th ward. Adding to this blast from the past, is Willie wearing the Allentown All American City tee-shirt. This post was for the subset, born in Allentown before 1960.

reprinted from November of 2013

Nov 25, 2020

The Lehigh Valley Railroad


The Lehigh Valley Railroad began as an carrier of anthracite coal in 1846. At it's peak, it stretched from the docks of New York harbor to Lake Erie. Although mostly a freight carrier serving the hearths of Bethlehem Steel, it operated a well known passenger line from New York City to Buffalo, The Black Diamond. As a child in the 1950's, I would sit in the car with my father waiting for the long freight trains to cross Union Street. A train watch tower stood over the busy crossing. By 1976, remnants of the railroad were absorbed by Conrail. Shown above, from the late 1930's, is the streamlined engine of the Black Diamond.

UPDATE: The track previously running along Allentown's new  riverfront development was the "Old" main line of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

reprinted from 2011