Mar 4, 2010
A Vanishing History
Most of you know it as the Phoenix Building, a sprawling old factory building on Race Street, between Hamilton and Linden. When in opened in 1881 as the Adelaide Silk Mill, it was the largest in the world. By 1928 Allentown had over 140 textile factories; it was the second largest industry and employer in the region, only behind assorted metal fabricators.
There is an interesting editorial* in today's Morning Call. As efforts continue to brand the area Lehigh Valley, Josh Friebolin ponders the loss of local history and culture. Josh may share my frustration with the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum. Last year I reported that Frank Whelan, a local historian who was formally with the Morning Call, was laid off by the Museum. The current director, not from the area, is an expert on Abraham Lincoln. The show on the famous President, although not a local topic, was understandable. The Museum now has a show on reducing electricity consumption, based on it's experience. I can understand the topic for the Da Vinci Science Center, but our local Historical Society?
I would like to see a show on the local needle trade industry. The last remaining factories have closed. Thousands of people in this area worked in the sewing factories. The remaining testimony and artifacts are quickly disappearing. What will future researchers be able to uncover, when our Historical Society is too cosmopolitan to document our own past?
* this well written piece does not appear on mcall under the opinion section, but is misplaced under sports
ADDENDUM: ALLENTOWN AFTERTHOUGHTS PICKS UP THIS POST, AND RICH FLAGG INFORMS OF A NEW ERA IN THE LOCAL APPAREL INDUSTRY