Apr 22, 2021

Allentown Memories

click on photo to enlarge 

From low income sections of center city, to expensive suburbs, Allentown and the Lehigh Valley is becoming home to more and more outsiders. I'm afraid the time will soon come when local memorabilia will have little appeal. Fortunately, for those interested, some impressive collections still exist. This past year Robert Bungerz published Allentown Remembered, documenting his outstanding collection of historical postcards and other objects. David Bausch, former County Executor and authority on Automobile Art, is also a expert on things Allentown. Then there are the many small collections, home of the hidden treasures. Above is an early aerial photograph of the Allentown Fair. Those interested in the recent commotion concerning the 19TH Street Theater District may find the upper right of the photograph interesting. There is no theater, there are no houses on Saint George Street and most of the buildings seem to to garages and automobile in nature (don't tell Auto-Zone). This gem is probably from the late teens or early 20's, and comes from the Thomas Reed Collection. Thomas is aka Z1pyro, long time expert shooter for Zambelli Firework Company. He retired several years ago, and we who appreciate fireworks, notice his departure. 

reprinted from July 8, 2008

Apr 21, 2021

Bethlehem's WPA Disgrace

On this blog I have been fighting hypocrisy and sacred cows for fourteen years.  Nothing in the Lehigh Valley matches the Wildlands Conservancy in misusing power and influence.  They have established direct channels with both the Pennsylvania Department Of Environmental Protection and the Fish And Boat Commission.  They interact directly with them, and have their will imposed on the municipalities in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. They have installed friends in positions of decision and power in both counties. They receive direct grants from the state. 

In 2013, the director of parks and public works in Bethlehem proclaimed that the WPA dam, directly above the Colonial Industrial Quarter, had "no historic value", and it was demolished.  Apparently, the WPA walls, steps and landings also have no value, because the city which prides itself on historic preservation is allowing them to crumble.

Even the signage commemorating the WPA is fading.

pictured above is the former scenic dam

Apr 20, 2021

The Union Street Train Tower


The Union Street crossing was a busy place. It was located between the Jordan Creek and south 3th Street. Virtually all the train lines serving Allentown converged here. The Lehigh Valley Railroad's old main line also crossed Union Street further east, toward the Lehigh River. Allentown was at this time served by two train stations, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station which was built over the Jordan Creek, and the New Jersey Central, which still stands as a closed restaurant and bar. This photograph, from 1930, is first in a series which will chronicle both the demise of our railroad era, and manufacturing base. Today, the tower is long gone and only one track survives. It is used by a private short line operator.

photograph from the Collection of Mark Rabenold 

reprinted from June 2013

Apr 19, 2021

Allentown Flood Of 1936


In 1936, northeast United States was decimated by extensive flooding. While Johnstown, Pa. and Nashua, N.H. made national news, Allentown certainly wasn't spared. While locally flooding of the Lehigh and Delaware received the most attention, the Jordan and Little Lehigh Creeks also caused widespread damage. Shown above is Lehigh Street, in the vicinity of the Acorn Hotel, south of the Little Lehigh. The building on the far left would become the Sherman Hotel, which operated for about twenty years, from 1942 to 1961. None of the buildings pictured still stand.

The low lying areas between the Jordan Creek and Lehigh River were flooded.  Numerous people were rescued by rowboat from porch roofs. At that time there was still many houses on the lower section of Hamilton and nearby Streets.

photo courtesy of the Schoenk family.

reprinted from April of 2020

Apr 16, 2021

Hurricane Diane, 1955


Hurricane Diane hit the Lehigh Valley in August of 1955. Living in Little Lehigh Manor, I remember huddling in the house, while the metal garbage cans of the era flew around the neighborhood. My father, whose meat market was on Union Street by the Lehigh River, worked throughout the night. Fortunately for him, his market had an second floor backup cooler, and a small freight elevator. While the retail business district on Hamilton Street is elevated enough to be unaffected from flooding, center city Easton was devastated by the Delaware. The next morning was rather surreal for a nine year old boy. A large willow tree on the corner of Lehigh Parkway South and Catalina Ave. was lying on its side. Although the Little Lehigh receded quickly, the park road and basin had been flooded. Diane remains a record in flooding and damage. Let us hope it remains that way.

photo from August 1955. Lehigh River rising by former A&B Meats. The row of houses shown were demolished to make way for a new bridge approach several years later.

reprinted from previous years

Apr 15, 2021

Boxing Eggs


When I was a little boy, I would work at my father's meat market, boxing eggs. The job was pretty straightforward. I would take eggs from a big box, and put them in small boxes with folding lids, each of which held a dozen. If I did a whole crate without breaking an egg, I did a good job. The real adventure was the drive to the shop. We lived just off Lehigh Street, and would take it all the way to Union Street. The many landmarks are now gone forever, only remaining in my camera of the past. Shown above in 1952, is the portion of Lehigh Street near the Acorn Hotel, which is not visible in the photograph. Before reaching the Acorn, you drove under The Reading Railroad bridge overpass, which recently has been dismantled and removed. That line served the Mack Plant on S. 10th Street. Just beyond the area pictured, the Quarry Barber railroad spur also crossed Lehigh Street, at the bridge over the Little Lehigh Creek. That line also crossed S. 10th, and served Traylor Engineering, now known as the closed Allentown Metal Works. Just last week Mitt Romney was there, to rebuke Obama's former visit to the site. Mayor Pawlowski is now rebuking Romney, but none of them really know anything about its past. A half block away, on overgrown steps built by Roosevelt's WPA, a thousand men would climb home everyday, after working at Mack and Traylor. Freight trains, on parallel tracks, from two different railroads, were needed to supply those industrial giants.

After my father rounded the second curve on Lehigh Street, we would head up the steep Lehigh Street hill. It was packed with houses and people. At the top of the hill, we would turn right on to Union Street. Going down Union Street, Grammes Metal was built on the next big curve. Grammes made a large assortment of finished decorative metal products. Beyond Grammes were numerous railroad crossings. The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks crossed Union, as did the Jersey Central and several spurs, near Basin Street. It was not unusual to wait twenty-five minutes for the endless freight trains to pass. A two plus story tower gave the railroad men view and control of the busy crossing. A few more blocks and we were at the meat market, in time for me to break some eggs.

reprinted from July 2011

Apr 13, 2021

Wolf Awards South Whitehall Czaress


Tori Morgan, South Whitehall forever commissioner, has received an award from Governor Wolf for South Whitehall's Jordan Greenway. This $multi-million dollar project is being overseen by the Wildlands Conservancy, which typically receives 15% of the construction costs for administrative services. 

In 2015, the township was informed by the state DEP that information provided by the Wildlands Conservancy complicates and increases the cost to repair Wehr's Dam. The Wildlands is opposed to dams, and has been conspiring since 2014 to do away with Wehr's. Despite the voters' referendum to keep their cherished destination, this conspiracy has never abated. 

Only in Pennsylvania, and maybe New Jersey, would an enabler like Morgan receive an award.

photocredit: K Mary Hess

The Dinosaurs Of Sumner Avenue



Up to the early 1950's, Allentown was heated by coal, and much of it came from Sumner Avenue. Sumner was a unique street, because it was served by the West End Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The spur route ran along Sumner, until it crossed Tilghman at 17th Street, and then looped back East along Liberty Street, ending at 12th. Coal trucks would elevate up, and the coal would be pushed down chutes into the basement coal bins, usually under the front porches of the row houses. Several times a day coal would need to be shoveled into the boiler or furnace. By the early 1970's, although most of the coal yards were closed for over a decade, the machines of that industry still stood on Sumner Avenue. Eventually, they took a short trip to one of the scrap yards, which are still on the avenue, but not before I photographed them.

reprinted from previous years

photocredit:molovinsky

Apr 12, 2021

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. 

Apr 9, 2021

Prince Philip's Mother

Long before Prince William walked down the aisle in Westminister Abbey, his great grandmother, Princess Alice (Princess Andrew of Greece), walked there during the wedding of her son Philip, to Princess Elizabeth. Princess(Alice) Andrew, later at the Coronation of Elizabeth, wore the habit of a nun. An extraordinary woman, she had founded a nurses order composed of nuns in Greece. She modeled the order after one started by her aunt and mentor in Russia, whom she had visited many years earlier. Born Princess Alice of Battenberg, she married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903, assuming her new title.
During the Second World War, she hid a Jewish widow and her children in Athens, saving their lives. In accordance to her wish, she is buried in Jerusalem, next to her cherished aunt Duchess Fyodorovna, in the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene.


ADDENDUM: When Prince Charles attended Simon Peres' funeral in Jerusalem last month, he visited the church and his grandmother's tomb. 

reprinted from April 30, 2011

The Corner Market


Although I doubt that there will ever be a show at the Historical Society, or brochures at the Visitors Bureau, perhaps nothing encapsulates the history of Allentown more than the corner grocery stores. Allentown proper, is mostly comprised of rowhouses built between 1870 and 1920, long before the era of automobiles and suburban supermarkets. Most of the corner markets were built as stores, and over the years many were converted into apartments. Up until the late 1940's, there may have been well over a hundred operating in Allentown. Some specialized in ethnic food. The bodega at 9th and Liberty was formally an Italian market. Live and fresh killed chickens were sold at 8th and Linden, currently H & R Block Tax Service. A kosher meat market is now a hair salon on 19th Street. The original era for these markets died with the advent of the supermarket. In the early 50's some corner stores attempted to "brand" themselves as a "chain", as shown in the Economy Store sign above. That market is at 4th and Turner, and has been continually operating since the turn of the last century. Ironically, as the social-economic level of center city has decreased, the corner stores have seen a revival. Most of these new merchants, many Hispanic and some Asian, know little of the former history of their stores, but like their predecessors, work long, hard hours.

above reprinted from March 2012

photo of Yost Market by Carl Rubrecht, 1970 

ADDENDUM: The enamel Economy Stores sign has been removed.  I hope that the owner sold it,  because it was valuable. As for the A-Treat sign, the era of painted signs on brick buildings is long over, although some ghost images still remain in Allentown.

Apr 7, 2021

Allentown's Orange Car


While the Orange Car went out of business over twenty years ago, the building sat there vacant, fading away.  Although recently demolished, there's a story behind the slow demise.

When the Lehigh Valley Railroad went bankrupt in 1976, its rolling stock and track went to Conrail. However its other assets, such as real estate, were tied up in bankruptcy.  The Orange Car building was owned by LVRR.  Many years ago there was a small six track rail yard between the Orange Car and the meat packing business to its east.  Carloads of fresh citrus fruit would arrive weekly from Florida. After the rail service ended, the lessee continued operating the fruit stand for another twenty years. 

I labeled this post Allentown's Orange Car, because there was an identical looking sister store in Reading.  That location also had a major event in 1976,  a major flood from which it never survived.  

Apr 5, 2021

Seat Too Hot For South Whitehall Commissioner


South Whitehall Commissioner Matt Mobilio got himself in trouble the other day about Trump. He apparently posted on facebook that people who support Trump, should be hung for treason.

Although a number of his constituents requested that he resign because of the statement, he declined. He and others feel that such statements are within his right. I also had an issue with Matt, and I posted about it last week.

During a discussion about Wehr's Dam, he wondered how the commissioners could get out from under the obligation to keep it.

That obligation is from the Wehr's Dam Referendum of 2016, when the voters decided that they wanted the township to retain the dam, even through it would cost $600,000, That figure at the time was based on an engineering estimate of possible repairs, plus a hefty increase. The referendum itself wasn't designed to save the dam, but rather condemn it, with no political consequence to the commissioners at the time. Lo and behold, the iconic dam meant so much to the residents, that they voted to keep it anyway. That vote caused the Wildlands Conservancy to go back to their scheming, and inform the Pennsylvania DEP that they know of more problems and expenses, that could be foisted upon the structure.

The current township director of public works, himself no friend of the dam, but rather the Conservancy, has in turn not defended the structure with the state. With the dam being the property of the township, and the subject of a voter's referendum, that defense should be his mandate.

Anyway, back to the troubled commissioner. Apparently, Matt Mobilio thinks that democracy is a pick and choose menu. He defends his election this past November, but not the referendum from 2016. 

above reprinted from June 4, 2020

UPDATE APRIL 5, 2021: The above post's title was changed.  In June it was S.W. Commissioner on Hot Seat.  Apparently Matt found the seat too hot, and he has resigned.  In an overly long resignation speech he blames everybody and everything except himself. In a further demonstration of self delusion, he praises his accomplishments on the board.  I welcome his departure, and wish that his mentor, Tori Morgan, joined him in resigning. 

ADDENDUM:  Brad Osborne also reacts to Mobilio's resignation on Ramblings.

Apr 2, 2021

Bill White's Chocolate Cake Recipe


Yesterday I took Bill White to task for writing that the Morning Call used to do investigative reporting, before the industry cutbacks.  As a student of Allentown for more decades than Bill White was here, that was news to me.

The Morning Call never really did investigative reporting, because more often than not they were part and parcel of the shenanigans.

The Morning Call owner/publisher was an owner of Park & Shop.  When shopping went suburban,  the Allentown Parking Authority was formed to bail the publisher out from all the lots.

When the NIZ was formed, the Morning Call building was included, even though they were on the wrong side of the street.  A former reporter who keep writing one glowing article after another about how successful the NIZ was, is now formally writing public relations for the local development agency.  Yesterday I drove down Hamilton Street at 12:30 PM.  Although offices are scaled back because of Covid-19, I only saw three people between 10th and 6th Streets.  Hamilton Street is truly a dead zone.

The paper was missing in action for over a decade on Pawlowski's misdeeds.  Only after the indictment did they wake up on that topic.

Bill White may know about chocolate cake recipes,  but his recollections about the Morning Call are fudge.

Mar 31, 2021

Blogger Gets Side Effects


Today a well worn blogger got his first Covid-19 injection. Unfortunately, he suffered an unusual side effect, he became a nice guy. Because it happen in the first 15 minutes, and he was still at the hospital center,  he was admitted for observation.  Get Well wishes can be sent to Bernie O'Hare, c/o Lehigh Valley Hospital Center, Muhlenberg Campus.

Although I was also vaccinated, I suffered no such personality change.  As proof, allow me to once again beat up Bill White.   In White's column today he wrote,  Meanwhile, we were producing outstanding investigative and other in-depth stories that made a difference in our communities.  White was getting carried away about how great the Morning Call was until the bean counters started slashing this and that. 

Like White, I also hope that the Call lands on its feet after whomever ends up buying it.  I hope that staff levels do get restored.  However, if they start doing investigative reporting that wouldn't be restoration, that would actually be a whole new venture for the newspaper.

Parkway Memories


We who lived in the Parkway during the 1950's have a special bond. We know we grew up in one of the most nurturing neighborhoods possible. Slow driving parents would keep a sharp eye out for dashing kids. The Halloween Parade would start and end at our own elementary School. The Easter Egg Hunt would take place on an open slope of our beloved park. 

reprinted from April 2010

Mar 30, 2021

Faith Baptist Church (Allentown)


There is a small church on the 200 block of N. 12th Street, which is served by a humble man, Pastor Robert Hargrove. Pastor Hargrove has been ministering to his flock at Faith Baptist Church for over 40 years. Years ago, when I managed buildings in the neighborhood, I had the privilege of meeting the pastor and seeing his concern for others. While his congregation was small, his outreach in the neighborhood was large. In addition to running a summer program for local kids, his church door was always open for those in distress.

While his formal congregation was mostly black, it seemed that most of his outreach helped the poorer whites in the surrounding blocks.

Over the years he kindly allowed me to conduct a few community meetings at the church, on topics such as Fairview Cemetery and the removal of bus stops.

While the large churches with the politically astute leaders get most our attention,  many people in need often turn to the small neighborhood churches, such as Faith Baptist.

Mar 29, 2021

Morning Call Christmas List


The remaining staff at the Morning Call was concerned that their mother ship, Tribune Publishing, was going to end up in the hands of a hedge fund known for cost cuts. In the Morning Call's case, there was little left to cut. The reduced staff works from home, with the presses in Jersey City, which are programmed by computers in Chicago. 

There is now news of some wealthy white knights interested in saving the chain. More encourgaing is that there is a particular investor interested in the Morning Call. While all these suitors should mitagate the staffs' worries, as a local pundit my concerns remain.  Jeff Bezos, with pockets as deep as they come, has not changed the agenda journalism of the Washington Post. 

While I'm glad the Morning Call will be purchased and survive, I still dream of more objective journalism locally.

Mar 26, 2021

Biden Invites Central America To United States


If America thinks that there is an immigration crisis, they haven't seen anything yet.  At the press conference yesterday, Biden tutored Central America on how to gain entry to the United States...send your young children first.  Biden said that he isn't going to allow a young child to starve to death and stay on the other side (of the border).  He also mentioned that Fort Bliss in Texas will provide 5,000 spaces to properly house children.  Needless to say that both proclamations will increase the flow of  children significantly.  

The notion that he will discourage the flow of immigrants by improving conditions in Central America is ridiculous. 

For someone whose past loose words helped created the current crisis,  yesterday's performance was very disappointing.  

Apparently United States will continue to have to wait for leadership on this human tragedy. 

Mar 24, 2021

Trolley Demise In Allentown


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

Mar 22, 2021

Saturday Afternoon Matinee


Occasionally, some of the older boys in Lehigh Parkway would get saddled with taking me along to a Saturday matinee in downtown Allentown. We would get the trolley, in later years a bus, from in front of the basement church on Jefferson Street. It would take that congregation many years to afford completing the church building there today. The trolley or bus would go across the 8th Street Bridge, which was built to accommodate the trolleys operated by Lehigh Valley Transit Company. Downtown then sported no less than five movie theaters at any one time. Particularly matinee friendly was the Midway, in the 600 Block of Hamilton. Three cartoons and an episode or two of Flash Gordon entertained our entourage, which ranged in age from five to eleven years old. We younger kids, although delighted by the likes of Bugs Bunny, were confused how the Clay People would emerge from the walls in the caves on Mars to capture Captain Gordon, but our chaperones couldn't wait till the next week to learn Flash's fate. Next on the itinerary was usually a banana split at Woolworth's. Hamilton Street had three 5 and 10's, with a million things for boys to marvel at. The price of the sundae was a game of chance, with the customer picking a balloon. Inside the balloon was your price, anywhere from a penny to the full price of fifty cents. The store had a full selection of Allentown souvenirs. Pictures of West Park on a plate, the Center Square Monument on a glass, pennants to hang on your wall, and picture postcards of all the attractions. Hamilton Street was mobbed, and even the side streets were crowded with busy stores. Taking younger kids along was a responsibility for the older brothers, the streets and stores were crowded, but predators were limited to the Clay People on the silver screen.

Mar 18, 2021

The Neighborhood School

In 1949 the school district built the Lehigh Parkway Elementary School. It was the new modern one story type  It was tucked up at the back of the development of recently built twin homes. All the kids  could walk to school without leaving the neighborhood or crossing a large street. The photo is May Day 1952, on the playground behind the school. The neighborhood houses can be seen in the background. May Day was big then, so were the unions; Most of the fathers worked at the Bethlehem Steel, Mack Truck, General Electric, and a hundred other factories going full tilt after the war. The houses were about 8 years old, and there were no fences yet. The kids would migrate from one yard to another, and every mother would assume some responsibility for the herd when it was in her yard. Laundry was hung out to dry. If you notice, most of the "audience" are mothers, dads mostly were at work. The neighborhood also had its own Halloween Parade and Easter egg hunt.

Mar 17, 2021

Growing Up Allentown


I'm a baby boomer. I was born in December of 1946. As soon as my mother climbed out of the hospital bed, another woman climbed in. I grew up in the neighborhood now called Little Lehigh Manor, wedged between Lehigh Street and the top of the ravine above Lehigh Parkway. That's me on our lawn at the intersection of Catalina and Liberator Avenues, named after airplanes made by Vultee Corporation for the War. We had our own elementary school, our own grocery store, and the park to play in. On Saturdays, older kids would take us along on the trolley, and later the bus, over the 8TH Street Bridge to Hamilton Street. There were far too many stores to see everything. After a matinee of cartoons or Flash Gordon, and a banana split at one of the five and dimes, we would take the bus back over the bridge to the shelter of our neighborhood.

Mar 15, 2021

Duck Paté Once Again At Cedar Park


In yesterday's post, I wrote about the Poison Hemlock and other invasive species taking over the creek banks in the Allentown Park System. This is a result of the ill-advised riparian buffers, promoted by the Wildlands Conservancy.

Yesterday morning the park department started to clear cut the stream banks in Cedar Park, the only way to get rid of the invasives. Removing them by hand would require the labor of the whole department, for the whole summer.

The buffers serve no ecological purpose in Allentown, because the storm water is piped directly into the streams, under the buffers.  However, the Wildlands Conservancy never lets specific realities get in the way of their generalized science.

These faux buffers have numerous victims. Yesterday this year's batch of ducklings were turned into paté  and mulch, when the mower went over their nests. For the rest of the summer, the city will allow the faux buffer to grow,  blocking both view and access to the creek.  It's not a good plan for the ducks or the children.

Allentown should defer to General Trexler's landscape architect, and again allow its citizens to enjoy the parks, as designed.

above reprinted from May of 2020

ADDENDUM MARCH 15, 2021: Hopefully this post can save some ducklings this year. I humbly suggest that the park department change mowing policy for the hatching season. Certain sections of the creek and lake banks could be kept mowed, which would discourage nesting.  Other sections could remain growing, until which time the ducks have left the nests. 

Mar 12, 2021

Biden's Missed Opportunity


Talk of unity comes easy to seasoned politicians...It rolls off their lips.  During last night's speech Biden could have given mention to the Warp Speed project which produced the vaccines in record time.  He didn't have to mention Trump by name, but just a momentary passing reference to the contribution by the previous administration.

During the campaign and before the inauguration, Biden spoke often about the need to unify the nation.  Last night Biden passed on an appropriate opportunity to do so. 

This blog, while formerly an early morning weekday daily, is now published on a less rigid schedule. I have installed an email widget on the web version sidebar, which will forward the blog postings to those who subscribe.

Mar 11, 2021

Lehigh Valley Censure Of Toomey

I believe that the Lehigh Valley Republican Party censure of Pat Toomey was ill advised.  Not all conservative voters, be they Republicans or independents, found Trump's post election behavior appropriate.  Who is the censure's message supposed to influence? It goes without saying that Toomey voted his conscience, and had previously confirmed that he would not run for re-election.  

For a party rightly concerned about the down ticket in a polarized environment, diversified opinion should be at least tolerated.  

Historically the midterms should belong to the Republicans.  However, they seem determined to project an extremist posture... Not a good or smart look. 

As an independent, I always vote for a candidate, not a particular party. There are Republicans who will receive my vote this coming November, regardless of this ill advised censure.

photo shows Trump's ill advised speech January 6th, 2021

Mar 10, 2021

Wehr's Dam Challenges Integrity Of Wildlands Conservancy


Chris Kocher, President of Wildands Conservancy, publicly stated on their website and in a Morning Call editorial that Wildlands Conservancy will certainly respect whatever decision South Whitehall Township makes about the dam’s future. The same pledge was also repeated by their director, Abigail Pattishall, prior to the vote on March 18th. This blogger has learned that there is a back door plan under way to still demolish the dam. Prior to voting on the dam, Commissioner David Bond suggested that perhaps the issue should be turned over to the voters in form of a referendum, because of the expense involved in keeping the dam. Bond voted to save the dam, but only after the yes votes were already in a majority. My sources reveal that Commissioner Christina Morgan, who voted against the dam, and the Wildlands' Pattishall are encouraged by the prospect of a referendum. They know that any question to the voters which increases taxes or expenses always loses.

The entire Wehr Dam study lacked integrity. The million dollar price tag assigned to repair the dam was a blatant scare tactic. Realistically, the repair cost would be only a small fraction of that amount. Unfortunately, this inflated figure has been taken at face value by The Morning Call, and repeated article after article. What Christina Morgan and Abigail Pattishall fail to realize is that unlike their inflated dam study, support for the dam is very real. The thousands of people who signed the petition, while visiting the dam, are very real.

The current Explore issue of South Whitehall Park News fails to mention or honor the dam's retention. Likewise, the Wildlands Conservancy has not acknowledged the decision, and a previous pledge to move on to other projects. Randy Cope, South Whitehall's park director, might be a member in good standing with the Wildlands, but he is failing the citizens of South Whitehall, by ignoring the peoples' wishes to celebrate the dam. Any referendum on the dam,  originated by commissioners, will be a vote against the wishes of the townships' residents.

photograph by K Mary Hess 

above reprinted from April of 2015

ADDENDUM MARCH 10, 2021: The integrity concerning the dam only went downhill since I wrote the above post in 2015.  Although the referendum to keep the dam passed in 2016,  the Wildlands continued their scheme to demolish the dam.  They communicated backchannel with the state DEP about issues with Wehr's, which weren't really relevant in regard to a low hazard dam.  Pennsylvania DEP never met a dam they like, and they publicly boast that Pennsylvania has demolished more dams than any other state. This ex-parte communication has greatly increased the current cost to repair the dam.  Meanwhile, former park director Randy Cope was promoted to Public Works Director, and never defended the dam.  On the contrary,  his father was a Wildlands official, and the Wildlands was given a major contract for work within the park. Although I offered documentation of the situation to the Morning Call, their editor (and local sacred cow protector) refuses to report on the situation. 

I'm taking the unusual step of publicly supporting two candidates in the upcoming Republican primary for commissioner,  Monica Hodges and David Kennedy.  Both of them will respect the voter's wishes on  Wehr's and other township issues.

This blog, while formerly a weekday daily,  is now published on a less rigid schedule.  I have installed an email widget on the web version sidebar, which will forward the blog postings to those who subscribe.

Mar 8, 2021

Worry And Opportunity In South Whitehall

South Whitehall has two seats up for election this coming fall.  One is held by Tori Morgan(R), who has been there since 2008.  She is responsible for the ongoing threat against Wehr's Dam. Ever since the Wildlands Conservancy announcement in 2014 that they want to demolish Wehr's, Morgan has been in league with them, to accomplish their goal.  If the dam survives,  its repair will now cost much more than it needed to, because of back channel shenanigans by the Conservancy with the state, allowed by Morgan.

The other seat up for grabs is currently held by Joe Setton(D).  Setton was not elected, but appointed by Mark Pinsley, when he office hopped up to county controller. 

In addition to Morgan,  Republicans voting in May's primary will also see Monica Hodges and David Kennedy on the ballot.  While both Hodges and Kennedy would bring much needed democracy and fairness back to the commission, only two of three candidates will advance to the general in November. 

My worry is that township residents will lose the chance to be represented by one of these outstanding new candidates.  The opportunity is that Morgan will lose,  ending her long stranglehold against good local government. 

photocredit:Wehr's Dam by Jason Fink

Mar 5, 2021

Allentown's Desolation Row


When Allentown demolished its historic mercantile district, I was there.  I accompanied the former merchants to meetings at city hall, where they were lied to about straw buyers and eminent domain.  I photographed the buildings before, during and after their demolition. 

Despite all the new construction, Allentown is still desolate, even before the pandemic. While there is a slight pulse during lunch hour,  evenings and weekends remained deceased. 

Once the pandemic subsides, hopefully the arena will start scheduling numerous events.  In reality, most of the Hamilton corridor is now owned by one man, whose debt obligations are serviced by redirected state taxes. If the corridor remains the domicile of the invisible and walking dead, it matters little to his bottom line. Eventually he will be cashing out, a $Billion dollars the plusher for it.

Needless to say, nobody is hiring me to write brochures for downtown Allentown.  Unfortunately, those yarns are being spun by the Morning Call.

photocredit:molovinsky

Mar 4, 2021

Blogging Battles


As a blogger, over the years I have been in a lot of battles. Pre NIZ, the unwashed Lanta passengers were removed from Hamilton Street, and segregated to 6th and Linden. This social engineering deprived the Hamilton Street merchants of their customer base. Of course things would only get worse for the merchants, as they themselves were then removed.

During this period my posts caught the attention of fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare, who previously was a supporter of Pawlowski. O'Hare and I would join forces for a couple of years, defending the passengers and merchants. 

One common denominator of my battles was that the Morning Call was missing in action on all these issues of inequity. They were, and continue to be, part of the problem in Allentown. The current Lanta terminal sits on previous Morning Call property. 

As this blog transitions from a weekday daily to a weekly, I will review some of the issues which have made me an outlaw with the establishment.

photocredit: molovinsky    8th & Hamilton above; Save for the Farr Building, nothing else shown remains. While the historic mercantile district was demolished, this blogger and his camera documented the destruction. 

Feb 28, 2021

South Whitehall Commissioner Woes


Poor Matt Mobilio had to take down his commissioner facebook page, too many complaints. On his personal page he laments the perils of public life.
In the 13 months as an elected official I've accomplished more than I could have hoped. But the toxic nature of social media has made me question everything I've done, everything I hope to do and my own ambitions for higher office. My point is, your local politician is, many times, someone really trying to make a positive difference. Someone without ill will, someone who has a family and sincere intentions. I truly believe I can do more, solve serious problems and make Lehigh County a better place. For the most part we dismiss our detractors as haters and know-nothings. But sometimes, it's damn hard to go on.
Talking about damn hard, let's talk about Wehr's Dam. It wasn't that long ago that you publicly wondered aloud how the township could get out from under the obligation of keeping the dam, as voters chose by referendum. You're probably aware of the conspiracy by the Wildlands Conservancy to complicate the dam repair by interacting back channel with the state.

Mobilio doesn't support the dam or the voters' referendum to preserve it.  I've been fighting since 2014 to save the dam, and must be one of the know-nothings to which he refers.

As for your ambition for higher office,  you're apparently a student of the Mark Pinsley School Of Office Jumping.  As Pinsley stood with the protesters about the Dorney Park shooting,  you publicly support the striking municipal workers.  You publicly support Ce-Ce, who as a council member marched against the Allentown Police. While you wokettes are entitled to your personal private sentiments,  as public officials, you should be more circumspect about your public messaging.  Unfortunately, you currently have control over my tax dollars, but you will never get my vote, for any office to which you may aspire.

photocredit: Wehr's Dam by Tami Quigley.  

Feb 26, 2021

Pocket Change At Molovinsky Blog


After 14 years of publishing this blog early morning every weekday, holidays included, a change is in order. Henceforth, the blog will appear sans the rigid schedule. I have installed an email widget on the web version sidebar, for those desiring free home delivery.

Feb 25, 2021

Crimes By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam rubble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that rubble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffers.

The Wildlands Conservancy is now going to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. The township commissioners are cooperating, by having a grossly inflated price associated with repairing the dam, to justify a disingenuous referendum. Sadly, by next spring I will be showing you before and after pictures of that crime.


top photo by Tami Quigley

above reprinted from August 2016

UPDATE: To everyone's surprise, especially the Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners, the referendum to save the dam was approved by the voters in November of 2016. The Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners are now conspiring to have the dam demolished anyway, by exaggerating its problems with the Pa. DEP...I have documented the communication between the Wildlands, State and township,  As for Lehigh Parkway, the Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove the former dam rubble that is despoiling the vista of the Robin Hood Bridge piers.  I have been trying to interest the Morning Call about the voter suppression in regard to the Wehr's Dam referendum.  In today's paper there is an article about the danger high hazard rated dams pose to residents downstream.  I hope the paper's article today is a coincidence, and not intended to serve the Wildlands conspiracy about Wehr's Dam.  BTW,  Wehr's Dam is rated low hazard, because it poses no danger to residents.

reprinted from November of 2019 and before

Feb 24, 2021

The Trains Of Union Street



Up to the late 1960's, Union Street, between the Jordan Creek and Lehigh River, was  crossed by numerous train tracks. In addition to the main tracks for the New Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley Railroads, the area hosted many sidings for the industries that once huddled along this historic river front area.  There was a small rail yard with five sidings between the UGI gas storage tank, which dominated Allentown's skyline, and Allentown Meat Packing Company.  The photo above dates from the late 1940's.  The map below from the early 1930's.



Small rail yard on bottom left of map. Allentown Meat Packing was the former H.H. Steinmetz Co. in 1932.

reprinted from 2017

Feb 23, 2021

Biden Throwing Baby Out With Bathwater


Although Nikki Haley wisely warned the Democrats against the indiscriminate tossout of everything from the Trump Administration, Biden appears to being doing exactly that.  

When he stopped the Keystone pipeline project,  he put thousands of workers on unemployment.  As Texans sat in the dark last week, even liberal ones may have had the time to contemplate the benefit of more North American energy, not less.  If that didn't slap their face, perhaps the crossing of asylum seekers at the border this weekend will. Iran sponsored militias rocketed a base in Iraq, which should remind Biden of reality in the middle east.

While I understand that the Trump revulsion will not allow the admission of any previous good policy, perhaps Biden will have the good sense to at least rebrand some of those policies.  Energy and security shouldn't be compromised for political reasons.

Feb 22, 2021

Racial Divide In Allentown's Upcoming Primary

A white mayoral candidate was recently taken to task on facebook for mentioning a black woman's role in his childhood.  When I observed that there would be no satisfying those intent on fostering racial divide, I was informed that there was no divide, just some good intended cultural sensitivity training taking place.  

While I refrained from any further exchange, I did follow the training taking place, and took the liberty of checking the trainers' pages. While they claim no racial divide,  I could not find one white candidate being supported for any office by any of the trainers.

The Morning Call inadvertently launched some of the current campaigns this past summer, with one article after another on the social justice marches taking place.  An article this weekend ties the summer marches and the spring campaigns together. 

It is my hope that if any of these campaigns succeed, that those newly elected mature into officials with a wider agenda. 

Feb 19, 2021

Turning Allentown's Blight Into Success


The recent article about Allentown in the New York Times used the B word.
Aided by tax dollars that would otherwise go to state or local general funds, developers should be able to offer attractive rents to companies that bring in new workers — who in turn might move into or buy new apartments and support new shops and restaurants in what had been a blighted urban landscape.
The writer of the Times piece is from New York City. We know that, because even J.B.Reilly, who hopes to rent apartments to the new office workers, isn't building condo's to sell in center city Allentown, or as he says, city center Allentown. 

While that writer is from NYC, this writer is from Allentown, and will now tell you how to change blight into success; You simply move it around the corner and up three blocks. The merchants and shoppers previously referred to as blight on Hamilton Street, are now being touted as the success of 7th Street. On Hamilton Street they had to compete with both the memory and expectation of better days. On 7th Street, things have been so dire for so long, the same shops and people now look like success. We could debate the sociology of my observation. We could become offended or defensive, but taking the show around the corner did change the perception. 

Talking of turning the corner, readers may soon notice a change in this blog. Although molovinsky on allentown will continue to write the unspoken, there are  few too vestiges of the old commerce and values to reference. While nobody will identify me as an advocate of the Arena and Neighborhood Improvement Zone, reporting will shift more to the future.

above reprinted from March of 2014

UPDATE FEBRUARY 19, 2021: Well, I never did climb on board with Allentown's new agenda.  This blog actually may well have contributed to Pawlowski's indictment.  My scrutiny then turned to the Morning Call, its lack of candor about the NIZ, and their protection of local sacred cows. The paper now has its own problems, as a hedge fund may soon be their new owner. 

Allentown's growing diversity seems to be dominating the upcoming local elections, with insinuations of racial insensitivity as a main theme.  My new project,  facebook group Allentown Chronicles, has me now more often revisiting Allentown's past, than its present or future.

photocredit:urban shopper, relocated from Hamilton to 7th Street/michael molovinsky

Feb 18, 2021

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

Feb 17, 2021

The Valley Of Cronyism


On Thursday I was a guest on Lehigh Valley Discourse, WDIY's program hosted by Alan Jennings. Despite some distractions, I was able to bring up one of Lehigh Valley's biggest problems, cronyism. Cronyism and sacred cows run the valley. An Op-Ed piece in this weekend's Morning Call illustrates the point. Because they hire veterans, Nestle is lauded for its plans to build another large plant, this one in central Pennsylvania. Their Lehigh Valley plant is at capacity for water usage. Of course hiring veterans sounds like a good thing, but sucking the water out of Pennsylvania to fill plastic bottles all over the world is a problem.  The Op-Ed is essentially a public relations piece for Nestle, presented as an editorial.

Here in Allentown we face higher water prices because LCA wants to implement a back door price hike, by increasing the residential billing cycle. (each bill contains a minimum charge, effectively resulting in an increase) We are in essence subsidizing the profit margin of Nestle and other commercial users.

Nestle was brought to the valley by Don Cunningham, now director of Lehigh Valley Economic  Development Corporation. Apparently, the Morning Call has no problem with a Nestle feel good editorial piece, but try and submit something critical about the local sacred cows and cronyism to the paper. Expect no reply, much less seeing it printed.

above reprinted from July of 2018

UPDATE FEBRUARY 17, 2021: Nestle's local operation has been purchased by a large holding company.  In 2009, its then recent expansion in the valley, and the threat to our own water supply, were only covered by this blog.  The Morning Call would not cover the concerns of local environmental activists at the time.  Nestle made continuing donations to the Wildlands Conservancy, also ensuring their silence.  The Morning Call itself is now being acquired by a hedge fund.  While we don't know how this acquisition will affect their staffing,  they have already been a lapdog to the local sacred cows for well over a decade.

Feb 16, 2021

The Wagon Trail



Most of Lehigh Parkway lies in a deep ravine. The slope up to Lehigh Parkway South, across the creek from Robin Hood, is very steep, about 60 degrees. Unknown to many people, there is a diagonal trail on part of the slope, which comes out halfway up the hill behind the Stone and Log House.

We kids, who grew up in the Parkway, called it the Wagon Trail. I believe it was part of the Kemmerer Farm (Stone and Log House), which dates back to the late 1770's. In the 1950's, the foundation of a small kiln was still visible on the trail. The subsequent years had not been kind to the old trail,  and it is no longer maintained by the Park Department. About halfway between it's entrance and exit on the hill, the trail has been blocked by a large fallen tree. People had dumped debris on the trail, and it remained there for years.

In April of 2010, I organized a cleanup.  The park director at the time cooperated on the project. I agreed that no power tools would be used, and he arranged for the city to pick up the rubbish.

It is my hope that any new administration will realize that our parks are more than just space to cram more recreational gimmicks.  They are steeped in history, and places where children can explore.

reprinted from previous years

Feb 15, 2021

NIZ Attracts Interlopers


Allentown's NIZ was a boutique legislation that allows private property to be publicly financed. Never mind that it was created by the biggest beneficiaries's childhood friend, who became a state senator. On the up side, for the most part, the beneficiaries have been local boys. That is about to change. 

The Morning Call had an excellent report on a New Jersey firm muscling in on our tax dollar giveaway. They learned their lesson well from the first interloper, Ruckus Brewery.  Ruckus was set up with the Neuweiler Brewery by Mike Fleck, before he went to the pokey with Pawlowski.  Ruckus managed to raise money from their NIZ approval and get possession of the brewery without actually spending any of their own money. For that fund raising, they changed their name to Brewers Hill.  Previously they never even had experience with actual brewing or real estate...Never underestimate the value of a political connection.

Like Ruckus/Brewers Hill, the new player promises to relocate their office here to Allentown. Sprinkle in a promise of affordable housing, and the Allentown welcome mat is out.  They have agreements now with Brewers Hill, and options on neighborhood properties. 

Personally, I preferred my tax dollars benefiting the local boys, like Reilly and Jaindl.

photocredit: Robert Walker

Feb 12, 2021

Allentown's Democratic Mayoral Primary


While I prefer not to make election endorsements, I was inadvertently drawn into opining about Allentown's mayoral race.  Joshua Siegel put up a hit piece against Matt Tuerk on facebook.

Siegel is a disciple of Mark Pinsley, who seems to still control South Whitehall commissioners, even though he is no longer one. Pinsley, among his more notable progressive antics, stood with the Make The Road shooting protesters at Dorney Park, while still a commissioner. Current  South Whitehall commissioner Matt Mobilio, also a Pinsley boy, is now supporting Ce-Ce Gerlach for Allentown mayor, since Siegel decided not to run. 

Anyway, back to the hit piece. Siegel, using a Monopoly Man caricature, accused Tuerk of being a good old boy, with nothing new to bring to Allentown. The piece was intended to boost Ce-Ce.

I believe that the only qualified Democratic candidates for Allentown mayor are O'Connell, Guridy and Tuerk. Each would bring something different to the 5th floor.  O'Connell's mayoral experience would bring continuity.  Guridy's longevity on council likewise has prepared him for the position. Tuerk's background might well provide needed economic benefit for Allentown. 

While I'm content for the Democrats in Allentown to pick their own candidate for mayor,  it's disappointing to see the tactics being deployed.

poster shown above from May 2019 Primary Election

Feb 11, 2021

Allentown Planning Puppies Make Little Barks


The Allentown Planning Puppies are adorable. Although, they approved Reilly's Tower of Condo Speculation,  they are concerned about Hamilton Street losing its historical character.  I have no idea what these puppies are talking about;  there hasn't been any historical consideration on Hamilton Street since the Pawlowski era began, and certainly there is no character.

Allentown's Preservation League also chimed in.  They don't mind historical buildings  being demolished for new development, but they don't think that buildings should be demolished for speculation, like the former Elks Club on South 8th Street.  Of course,  those enablers didn't protest at the time. Understand that the arena complex demolished 37 buildings, of which 34 were historic, and several were unique, one of a kind in Allentown.  Reilly just demolished another square block for his now, put on hold,  twin mega towers.

When the Hamilton Street treasure shown above, in the 700 block,  was demolished for the arena,  save for this blogger, there was no concern for its loss.  There wasn't a sound from any of the puppies mentioned here.

The current office condo project must still go in front of Allentown's zoning board, and Historical Architectural Review Board.  Oh, the suspense,  will the Reilly project get the final go ahead from the city?

reprinted from July of 2016

UPDATE FEBRUARY 11, 2021: When I wrote the above post over four years ago, I offended some of the people on the enabling commissions. Likewise, the current people on various commissions may be offended now.  I photographed most of the buildings that were demolished for the NIZ.  I met with the first group of owners, who were displaced for the arena. They were not even properly, much less richly, compensated as the more recent sellers.  My purpose is to record an account of how the former mercantile district was transformed into an essentially privately owned, but publicly financed, urban office park. Such an account has not been compiled by the local newspaper, which had a vested interest in the project. For the most part, certainly the early part,  they functioned as a promoter, rather than a reporter.

Feb 10, 2021

NIZ Injuries To Allentown


The NIZ has fostered various injuries on the city and it's citizens.  Reilly's dashed hopes for a mega project, encompassing an entire block, 7th to 8th and Hamilton to Walnut, resulted in the displacement of numerous  businesses and residents.  Furthermore, we lost rich history, such as the Elks Club.  Yesterday afternoon the paper ran it's second story of the day promoting Reilly's much smaller, substituted office condo project. The article is called  Five Things To Know about the new project.  There's actually six, and the sixth is that the paper never stops promoting Reilly's interests. This morning the paper continues with it's third piece on the new building, within two days.  Putting aside this endless cheerleading by The Morning Call,  the NIZ has surely peaked. Although a number of tenants were poached from different locations,  there was no net gain for the region.  A responsible Harrisburg would be analyzing  the consequences inflicted on the area.  However,  responsibility and Harrisburg have never been acquainted.

As I commented yesterday, Talen workers will be isolated down at the river, almost punished, if you  will.  The surrounding 6th Ward certainly doesn't provide much ambience.  Expect our local and state taxes to be expended there, to embellish Jaindl's position. The tearing out of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Old Main tracks through that parcel is another history victim of the NIZ.

photo of former Elks Club on S. 8th St., prepared for demolition, to make way for now cancelled mega-project by J.B. Reilly

above reprinted from May of 2016 
 
UPDATE FEBRUARY 10, 2021: Four years later from writing the above piece, an update is in order.  Reilly did build out the square block with more offices and apartments. He also did so at 6th and Walnut. It all looks the same, devoid of architecture and any feeling of community.  He also secured Talen as a tenant, slowing down Jaindl's waterfront plans. Jaindl is now just starting his first building. The Morning Call continues their promotion of Reilly's City Center Real Estate, and Reilly now owns the Morning Call building. While resented for it, I continue to speak out against the loss of the town's identity.

Feb 9, 2021

Freight Trolleys and Shenanigans


This was supposed to be a Men's Stuff post, about the working cars on the Lehigh Valley Transit Company. Doing research for the previous post on that company, I became fascinated that they operated a freight operation with the trolley cars. I started acquiring documentation and photographs about the working cars necessary for such an operation. They built power substations throughout the valley that generated electric, then converted the AC to DC for their use. The rolling stock required coal trolleys, wire stringing trolleys, snowplow trolleys, and etc. I will present these black and white photo treasures in future posts, because I got side tracked by a shenanigan; you know me. Lehigh Valley Transit operated out of the Fairview Carbarn, which Lanta still uses off of Lehigh Street. Despite a trolley fleet that covered the entire City, plus the remainder of the Valley (Bethlehem and Easton), all the Men's Stuff working cars, and trolley service to Philadelphia, Lanta now needs Bicentennial BallPark because they acquired five (5) new hybrid buses? Supposedly these five new buses require a special garage. Although the Fairview facility now handles 78 regular buses, the ballfield has to go because of the five new hybrids.

men only: enlarge freight trolley by clicking on image

above reprinted from May of 2010

UPDATE July 4, 2019:  Attempting to save the ballpark, I organized a meeting at a center city church.  Attending the meeting were two city council members and families involved with Bicentennial Park.  Pawlowski and Lanta finally backed off, and the ballpark remains. Some people who attended that meeting became interested in Allentown politics, and attend council meetings to this day. Pawlowski's shenanigans have since caught up with him.

reprinted from July 4, 2019

Feb 8, 2021

More Cigarette Tax For Reilly

The Morning Call reports that T&B Tobacco, a fixture on Linden Street forever,  has sold out to J.B. Reilly's NIZ empire.  While the Call article spelled out some of the NIZ financial benefits,  it didn't reveal all the trade secrets.

The newspaper has never been overly frank about Reilly's NIZ.*  Their building at 6th & Linden was included in the NIZ zone,  even when originally the zone was limited to only the other side of Linden Street. Reilly now owns the Morning Call building, with the paper's presence there limited to distribution only. However, since that first map,  everything about the NIZ is subject to flexibility.  The NIZ status of parcels within the zone can be traded for parcels outside the zone. 

Even the addition of the cigarette state tax was a profitable afterthought. While Reilly and the NIZ can now use the Pennsylvania cigarette tax for their real estate debt service, prior to the NIZ,  that tax went to CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program.

While this blog has published many posts about the NIZ and the paper's promotion of it*,  recently I have refrained from pointing out the obvious.  However, a quote from the seller of the tobacco outfit is too much to ignore.  He states about the NIZ, “It sure beats the hell out of how things were 20 years ago,"   It certainly does for him. In addition to the undisclosed $millions he received for his business, Reilly also gave him $2.5 million for his old tired building. 

* The current reporter is much more forthright about the NIZ than his predecessors, who wrote outright  promotions for Reilly's City Center Realty.