Aug 21, 2009

Park And Shop

Downtown Allentown boomed for about 100 years. During the prosperity years following World War II, the two car family emerged. Several business leaders of Allentown realized both the parking problem and the potential to enhance sales. Park and Shop was begun by Harvey Farr, Donald Miller and John Leh. The current small parking deck at 10th and Hamilton, above the Parking Authority Office, was the first deck in the country. To make the parking lots, shown in the postcard above, houses were purchased and torn down. Merchants would stamp the parking tickets, providing free or reduced cost parking. As the suburban shopping malls eventually eroded the commerce on Hamilton Street, both Hess Brothers and Lehs competed with the mall convenience by building their own connecting parking decks.

As the viability of the Park And Shop enterprise declined, The Allentown Parking Authority was conveniently formed, and it purchased the lots.

Although business hardly still exists on Hamilton Street, The Parking Authority, through demonic enforcement, has become a growth industry. Because of the converted apartments, and our one car per person society, parking remains an issue in center city. Unfortunately, the current Administration has prevailed upon The Parking Authority to sell several essential neighborhood lots to a contractor for new housing.

Although the gentlemen mentioned in this article profited from their influence, they always provided solutions for the betterment of the community. They seemed to belong to a bygone era.


Looking To Escape said...

the current Administration has prevailed upon The Parking Authority to sell several essential neighborhood lots to a contractor for new housing.

You need fresh new housing to attract families to use the new handicapped park I suppose.
I see no purpose in building a few new homes surrounded by block after block of run down, aged row homes.
If I were mayor (and I had a magic wand) I'd tear down 4 or 5 blocks of old housing, replacing the torn down units with new on a 3 for 2 basis. This will leave room for more parking and maybe little community parks for kids to play in close to their home.
If need be, to attract developers I'd give the land away. The homes would have to use advanced green technology, be wired for modern communications. The intent is to make Allentown center city attractive to high income earners. A few homes scattered around the city won't do it. Allentown has to make a statement that there is life here, and it's worth investing here.
Written into the contracts would be a clause these homes may not be rented and must be owner occupied.
I wouldn't put another dime into the restoration of older homes, and not a penny to pay people to paint their homes (unless they were on social security with no additional income).
Allentown needs a new look but that won't happen until we get a new mayor. Problem is, I do not see anyone on the horizon who will do it.
Mike, I am coming to the conclusion Allentown just doesn't have the local talent and worse yet, the interest.
It's pretty sad when you have to have a guy from out of town to prod the people who live in the town.

Andrew Kleiner said...

The parking authority has recently decided to make a profit out of us folks living on Allen St. On Thursdays they street clean our side of the street, so we have to park on the opposite side. That side, for no reason whatsoever has become a 2hr parking zone and is only enforced on Thursdays. Which means, that no matter the side we park on, we are going to get a ticket. At this point, they could build a wing somewhere and name it after me.

Anonymous said...

Linda A. Rosenfeld – Chairperson
Malcolm Gross - Vice Chairperson
Candida Svirzovsky - Secretary
Michael Donovan – Treasurer
Lawrence Hilliard – Asst. Secretary
Tamara Weller - Executive Director
Daniel K. McCarthy - APA Solicitor

Yes everyone is appointed by the mayor. Kind of a stacked deck politically. Not a Republican in the crowd. Not being versed in politics, please clarify why it seems I keep running into the same people when I check into relationships in Allentown.

On a regular basis in my neighborhood cars are parked for weeks at a time. Same spot. Kind of odd the parking authority would not notice. Eventually they are towed or are driven away. Seems there are different rules for different individuals.

Looking at the potential violations I would say they have a lot of work to do. I heard one of their favorite times to generate revenues is when the snow falls heavily but it is not a snow emergency.

Seems to me a good way for the city to maintain a nice inventory of property at arms length. With all the cash they generate. It is interesting how they report their financials at the board meetings, records are on line, and they state it as a percentage of the budgeted amount with no reference to actual cash dollars collected.

"The APA is at 33% of budget or higher for revenue at the first quarter of 2009 and at 29.2% of budget for operating expenses. The total revenue for the first quarter exceeded expenses by approximately 36% of the annual budget."

Now isn't that somewhat convoluted? PDF link to the audited annual report is broken. This needs some further attention. Interesting topic. Also, why aren't parking fine assessment and collection part of the police department?

Trivia Question - Who said this:“I don't care who you are, you're not getting in my bar. Get lost.”

ironpigpen said...

Bygone Era

Bygone City

Perhaps more Multi-Generational Destination Playgrounds will solve things

michael molovinsky said...

this morning i bumped into a prominent member of the hispanic community, who was indeed summoned to the meeting on the 13th to defend the playground against discrimination. i put this comment here, to not dilute my apology in the previous post. however, anybody who fostered divisiveness to further an agenda should also apologize in general, and particularly to those residents of the west end who were so labeled.

Anonymous said...

To: 4:33 pm

It is not the houses in Allentown that are the problem, it is the people who live in them. Tearing down whole neighborhoods in order to put up comparatively insubstantial contruction (houses)compared to the wonderful housing of the early 20th century that is still in place),is trading in wonderfully constructed and architecturally pleasing good old, Allentown homes for inferior things of poor esthetics and construction. People calling the shots in the Allentown of 2009 really do have an astounding lack of good taste when compared to the people that lived, worked, and governed Allentown from 1900 to 1965... let's admit it!

The problem is not the homes in Allentown, but the current people living in them. The views expressed by 'Mr. 4:33 pm' are shortsighted, and show a real lack of appreciation for excellent architecture which is a symbol of Allentown from its golden era. We've destroyed too much of old Allentown in the last 25 years. The Parking Authority is high up on the list of responsible culprits. "There is no accounting for bad taste", applies very much to Allentown people in higher places, and in governmental power.


Anonymous said...

MM- As an "old-timer" (I'm 55), I recall the tail end of a golden era during which Allentown was a model city. It was a different time, a different era to be certain. It's safe to say that Allentown was a clean, progressive city, one that recognized problems and moved efficiently to solve them. The scenario you describe regarding parking in the immediate post-war era is a great example. Park & Shop was innovative and effective. Unfortunately, Allentown circa 1980 and since has been slow to react to the problems and challenges of a new era. Allentown is no longer clean or progressive. Sadly, the town I remember is all but gone, replaced by what is fast becoming an urban wasteland inhabited increasingly by poor renters. The displaced working class property owners have fled (or are in the process of fleeing) and it is troubling to envision what the city will look like in another twenty years.

For whatever reason though, unlike other examples like Scranton, Camden, Wilkes-Barre to name but a few, Allentown's total population has remained at around 100,000 for some reason. My prediction is that once the city declines beyond where it is right now, that too will occur and Allentown will even lose its prominence as "Pennsylvania's Third Largest City", as if that has any practical meaning after one takes into account all of the obvious negatives that have befallen the once great city.