I believe I attended my first Gateway meeting at St. Lukes Church in 1990. I know I was there in 1994, because I dragged someone along, and she has yet to forgive me. Gateway was a slogan Allentown City Planners gave 7th St. I must say in the early 90's, it certainly could use a coat of lipstick. I can't tell you how many $millions the City spent. First they put in new sidewalks, then tore them up to make part of the sidewalk brick. Then they tore that out and reconfigured the brick and cement. They planted and replanted numerous types of tree's. They commissioned architectural renderings, showing block by block, how the Gateway should look from Hamilton to Liberty Street. When I attended in 2005, the meeting was still identical to the previous ones, even moderated by the same city personnel.
Meanwhile, totally unconnected to this planning and spending, a Hispanic business district started developing further out in the 500, 600, and 700 blocks of Seventh Street. This occurred because rents were more reasonable, and parking more available than on Hamilton Street. Despite the 15 year planning failure by the City, the succeeding dynamic in place was the growing Hispanic Community, cultivating their own merchants. The City Planners were now anxious to "help" this area, which had helped itself. Fortunately, instead they started a Main Street Program and eventually hired the right person.
Peter Lewnes has been doing an excellent job of filling in the gaps on 7th Street, and applying facade grants in a seemingly appropriate way. On Saturdays one is hard pressed to find a parking space. I believe that his enthusiasm, and a growing community's ambition, has finally awakened 7th Street from a long sleep.