Dec 28, 2011

Allentown 1950

Sixty years ago downtown Allentown hummed. It was fueled by the vision of people who developed empires, not cookie cutter ideas from the National Magazines for Bureaucrats, like the arena. Shown here is the Transit Office and depot at the side of 8th and Hamilton. General Trexler had been a principle in the Trolley Company, which also built the 8th Street Bridge, to connect Allentown with points south, all the way to Philadelphia. In addition to being the terminal for the Philadelphia bound Liberty Bell, it also fed the merchants of Allentown with thousands of shoppers from its many Allentown routes. The shoppers now sit on the cold steel benches at the Lanta Detention Center on 7th Street, as the non-visionaries prepare to demolish the center of town, to build a monstrosity.

The light and shadows reveal that this is an early morning photo. In a few hours 8th and Hamilton (behind the trolley) would be clogged with shoppers


FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

In the last two days you have once again added to negativity of Allentown. The irony of it all is that you dont add any positive suggestions on what should be done. You sit behind a keyboard and lambaste any type of change. The arena may not be the cure all for everything in Allentown, but lets be honest it is the start of something that has not been done to Allentown in 50 years. We have companies that are once again interested in downtown. Granted you will argue that they are only interested because of tax incentives, but this is how things work today. The irony of it all is that when the picture of the trolley you posted today was take you were a child or a teenager at most. The count down of the fall of center city was simply a mere couple years away as the modern shopping malls started to be built. So instead of calling people "non-visionaries" and "foolish" please add your idea of what should be done. It is very easy to write a blog and toss stones but not add any value, that is exactly what you are doing. You are a contributor to the negativity of Allentown, shame on you. I guess that is what you get from a South Whitehall resident who writes a blog called "... on Allentown". For once tells us what you would do for downtown Allentown instead of lambasting those who are doing something.

Anonymous said...

This Future guy is a plant. he may be a she.

Anonymous said...

"In the last two days you have once again added to negativity of Allentown."

In the last 10 days there've been how many shootings?

michael molovinsky said...

i don't know if you are really a future attendee or not, but you are a current moron. much has been done in the last 50 years. the street was changed to one way. the canopy was built which was a major project. that project was to be transformational also. it did succeed in bisecting the buildings architecturally. the parking and sidewalks were reconfigured numerous times. the canopy was removed. i oppose this project because all the others were reversible upon failure; this one tears down the heart of center city. pawlowski was quoted the other day as saying restoring the luster of hamilton street is the key to restoring allentown. that's the same tunnel vision of his predecessors. it's a big city to ignore, with many problems, to squander the capital on this scheme. while we fence off that square block, the 15th street bridge has isolated south side allentown simply because it wasn't painted for years. understand that pawlowski was community development director before being mayor, and ignored the 15th street bridge. Schiebers stone arch bridge is now being destroyed by constant travel. St. John street is jammed by traffic using the maintenance ignored, 8th street bridge. but pawlowski wants a new bridge (american parkway for the arena.) while the tilghman street bridge needs work. just another person striking out for a grand slam, while we suffer from lack of base hits.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I bet Future attendee is Pawlowski writing the responses to your Blog. Keep up providing the true information, Pawlowski can not accept the truth.

Anonymous said...


Love the pictures, keep 'em coming.

One person's negativity is another's reality. There's an interesting article in the MC talking about the 50th anniversary of Bethlehem's Historic District. It goes on to mention that Bethlehem was at a crossroads in the late 60s. The options were to tear down most of downtown and rebuild a futuristic city, or to rehabilitate and trade off of the city's uniqueness. Option two was chosen and most agree that was right for Bethlehem. That city's downtown neighborhoods remain integrated into the downtown and both thrive.

Allentown could be at a crossroads today. The city's heyday is at least 35 years in the past. The downtown was once a thriving shopping district, with a governmental component, and services centered in a compact area. Failure by city leaders to recognize that the world has changed has resulted in urban decay. Middle class taxpayers make the world go 'round and made Allentown successful. The inability to keep the taxpayers in the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods has resulted in mass vacancies to commercial properties, migration of businesses to the suburbs (where the middle class taxpayers went), the influx of opportunistic but greedy entreprenuers who divied up single row homes and turned them into apartments, filling them with low-income renters who have little stake in the community. These new Allentonians are needy, in that they need services. Allentown's school district is now poor, and underperforming. MM is correct that the arena is a scheme; it may work to bring a few thousand folks in for events, but that it will transform the downtown into a safer, kinder, gentler place is a dream. It's a dream shared by Reading PA, Camden NJ, Chester....

A city rots from the inside out. Allentown's best chance is to reclaim its center city neighborhoods by bringing the middle class back home. Until this happens, A-Town will remain a forlorn visage of what it once was.


FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michael molovinsky said...


MM you do realize that Tilghman St and the bridge is State road 1002 and is the responsibility of the state to repair and maintain and not the city. Also the 15th st bridge is fully funded and demolition is starting in early Jan. The new bridge (which is actually two spans) will consist of a new modern bridge that will last long after you are in the ground. The American Parkway Bridge has been discussed for decades and is also fully funded with construction to commence shortly. Also when is it the responsibility of a community development director for bridges? You are an idiot.
Also to compare a canopy to a $120 million project is insane. Also "It tears down the heart of the city" Are you f'n kidding me? It is one square block that houses an empty lot, a storage facility, a day care, an urban clothes store etc... It is one block!!! There is a $120 million arena, $50 and $10 million office facilities being built with more announcements on the way. The development in Allentown is going to blow your mind. You have been so wrong on so many things that your credibility is near zero. If you want examples I am more willing to quote you on all them. So you can live with your 1930's WPA projects and hold on to the past. I once thought XXXXX was the biggest idiot in town, but I think you are closing in to take the title. Open your eyes and stop contributing to the negativity of this city.

Anonymous said...

It's OK.
The money for this scheme was free.
The profits will come rolling in and Allentown will once again be on top of the heap.
Worst mayor EVER.

Anonymous said...

Mike, If you read the latest from Future, who other would have this information, but none other than ED AND LISA PAWLOWSKI, one of them is future.

michael molovinsky said...

ms. future, (future has previously identified herself as a woman) I do believe that streets and engineering are indeed under supervision from the community development director, or that they previously were. the city uses it's influence with the state to lobby for bridge and infrastructure repair. we lobbied for the american parkway bridge, while the others were deteriorating. when we painted the 15st bridge rails a couple years ago, while the beams were rusted away, and put up banners, we truly were putting lipstick on the pig.
the arena project received no scrutiny from the public, press or council until after the fact. I am proud that this blog could address that deficiency in some small way. you may attempt to marginalize my observations by calling them negativity, but many others have some appreciation of my efforts. to delete someone's name, i had to paste your comment under my heading. please do not repeat that reference, because i will not cut and paste again.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:20, i printed your comment, but beyond being an apologist, her or his identify doesn't matter. i will state that i do NOT believe that future is mr. or mrs. pawlowski, or hailstone. I will no longer host comments speculating on Future's identity.

Monkey Momma said...

MM, I just want to thank you for your continued scrutiny on Allentown. You sign your name on your opinions, which speaks volumes. I find it odd that no one signs their name on "pro-Arena" arguments.

Having a watchdog is extremely valuable for any community. The pen is truly mightier than the sword, and your essays might be construed as "negative" by some, but I take them as realistic and well reasoned.

If FDAA is so passionate about the arena, I encourage her to compose her own blog. I'm sure it would be heavy on rhetoric and light on facts, but hey - it'll be POSITIVE. What is especially odd about FDAA's comments is her overt call for "positive" posts, while she continually spews negative personal comments about YOU. Her own comments reflect a large degree of hypocrisy and self-righteousness that reeks of the Administration.

If Allentown is to succeed at all, it will need the support of its neighbors in the suburbs, including South Whitehall. Allentown does not have a population capable of shopping and dining at the establishments the Administration has bought on the taxpayer dime. The fate of the city affects more than the city residents, too. The city affects folks like myself don't live in Allentown, but spend our days downtown working. I'm qualified to offer an opinion on Allentown, just as much as someone who has a 18101 zip code on their Verizon bill. How insane that anyone would decree that the only people qualified to write about Allentown are the ones who claim it as their current primary residence.

In any event, I wish the arena much success. But I learned a long time ago that a successful business plan depends on a lot more than wishful thinking. Too bad I don't see an actual PLAN for this arena, just a lot of fairy dust, schemes and ridiculously high hopes.

Anonymous said...

I will believe the American Parkway bridge and 15th Street when I see them. The city has been touting these improvements for years. They are always just around the corner.

So many other projects like New England Avenue, 19th St, and the bike/trails intitiative are talked about but never seem to happen.

The administration needs to stay focused and execute a few of these singles and doubles. Nothing ever gets done in this town and thats really what counts.

ironpigpen said...

Give me an "A"


Give me an "R"


Give YOU my MONEY?

Good luck with that ...

Stop the lectures. Stop the spending. Just stop.

ironpigpen said...

I, ROLF OELER, openly challenge FDAA to put her money where her mouth is, figuratively speaking, and produce a "positive" blog promoting the Pawlowski Palace of Sport.

I contend FDAA has no clue how much work that would entail and would be most interested to see if she could actually blog day in and day out.

I never seem to have time to write at my hockey blog,, anymore.

Fact is, I, personally, just don't find blogging very rewarding at all. I need a new hobby. But that is another matter altogether.

Perhaps I need a lecture from a Liberal Elitist.

In conjunction with my very public challenge --- I WILL GIVE YOU THE KEYS TO THE BLOG, FDAA. AT ABSOLUTELY NO COST, i.e,. FREE!!!

So, do you have the guts, FDAA, and when would I be able to read the first "positive" article about the "transformative" Pawlowski Palace of Sport?

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

If MM is willing to allow me to guest post a blog entry I would be more than willing to write a positive post about the city of Allentown and the future development of downtown.

michael molovinsky said...

future, you will not be guest posting on my blog. let me remind you of a previous comment by you, to me;
You can't even vote in this city. Stopping wasting your time and breath. No one cares about stone structures that were built in the 30's. You have zero idea about what development is about. Allentown is like what is what it is like now because people of your generation and will be even better then you could ever imagine when you are 6 feet in ground... We the future viewers of what this city can become only hope that this will come sooner than later.
I host your comments because I have no problem presenting the other side. for a guest post, i suggest you approach a puff blog, like Allentown Good News. meanwhile, i will continue to advocate for the WPA structures. Will the arena last 75 years, as those structures have?

LVCI said...

Dear "FutureDowntownArenaAttendee"

The bottom line is this. Whitehall Township built their entire "Golden Strip" on private financing. So did the former Allentown. The theory that investing 200+ taxpayers dollar$ will bring success is based on politicos not capitalism. "Build it, they will come" made for a great movie, but not how cities evolve economically.

In the past you've lambasted the previous generation for all the ills Allentown faces today. You've taken to task on a personal level MM. What you haven't demonstrated is simple economics. That is.. "supply and demand" upon which this nation was successfully built upon.

The bus/rail/trolley services were a huge success back in the day in Allentown because people utilized them. Later on they did not. Same goes with downtown offices, retailing and all the rest.

You asked, "..your idea of what should be done?
The city's responsibility is to provide services and protection to the people. Not to become a high risk investment strategist on behalf of the taxpayers via their forced tax contributions. If those who specialize in private development and investment see a down side to do doing so, why should politicians place taxpayers at risk where private investment groups fear to go?

Hasn't this been tried in Russia and other places and failed?

If Allentown is to succeed it will come about because there is a need. Private investors will anticipate profits therefore invest their fortunes in it.

"For once tells us what you would do"
It isn't what MM or I would do. That is up to the people who inhabit Allentown. Many who started a business and had it ripped from their hands by folks in your like mindedness who decided it wasn't what was their vision is for Allentown. The most Allentown can do is to make do with what they have and improve on it. Enhance the rentals, the stores on 7th street and on Hamilton street. Let it happen. It is what it is.

Another thing.. I may be anonymous, but before you rip somebody a new ass like you have done personally to MM. It's long overdue that you prove you actually live in Allentown yourself. I may be anonymous but I've never attacked someone personally as you have. I absolutely would not entertain your comments as MM has. They have been becoming increasingly personal attacks rather then focused on the debate. You don't like what MM says on his blog? Then why do you come here to try and demean him? You stated in the past that MM's views are meaningless. Why then still why then do you persist?

Your getting your damned hockey arena.. so what's your point?

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Well ROLF OELER, I was willing but MM doesnt want to hear the other side.. I guess he is afraid that he might be proved wrong.. it is a shame.

michael molovinsky said...

future, contrary to rolf's offer, blogger is free. simply click on the icon on the bar across the top of this blog, and start your own.

ironpigpen said...

I'm talking about day in and day out blogging in favor of the Pawlowski Palace of Sport.

Not just one article.

Day in, day out.

Where were YOU when I stood up for Taxpayer Park? (and ended up battling of bunch of joes claiming to be college professors all by my lonesome)

There are a few reasons I vehemently oppose public financing for sports arenas.

There is a reason I, from time to time, reference THIS Morning Call article here :


(I don't have the date in front of me and am not gonna bother to go get it)

There is a reason I bagged the IronPigs a long time ago.

And it all started the day I got left hanging. Fact is, I HAVE done much research. I could argue the other side just as well.

You pro-arena yo-yos should be referencing Andrew Zimbalist at every conceivable opportunity. He is your best and most respected academic friend. And you Palace of Sport clowns, apparently, don't even know it.

I am sincerely enjoying this "transformative" circus act very much, though, I must say.

I find your lecture about "positive" amusing because --- where the hell were YOU when ... where was anybody?

Oh well. Live and learn. That's what happened.


michael molovinsky said...

rolf and futureattendee, although i hosted your back and forth, and often stated, this is not a chat room.

it's easy for future and jon geetings to dismiss criticism of the arena as negativity. this project has the default financing option of property taxes in the NIZ area, and the potential to bankrupt allentown.

Anonymous said...

"The bottom line is this. Whitehall Township built their entire "Golden Strip" on private financing."

Not unless 22 and Route 145 Were build with private financing. Sprawl is heaviliy subsidized my frien.

Bill said...

Very interesting thread. I did not like the secrecy in which the arena project has been developed in and think that at the end of the day those of us who live in Allentown will be on the hook for the costs. Arenas do not fair well in the economic studies I have seen. Even if MM does not live in Allentown, I do, and I appreciate his focus on these issues, it keeps me informed.

Also, this statement in the thread is absolute truth:

"when we painted the 15st bridge rails a couple years ago, while the beams were rusted away, and put up banners, we truly were putting lipstick on the pig."

What a crime. I use that bridge every day. There is no good reason it was allowed to waste away.

michael molovinsky said...

FutureDowntownAttendee submitted a long press release issued today on the arena. those interested can read a Morning Call article by Scott Kraus on the press release

Town Cryer said...


Remember when Pawlowski touted the last tax-free zone (the KOZ) as the key to saving (or transforming) Hamilton Street? Or Johnny Manana's?

Or when the Brew Works was only going to need in the neighborhood of $5 million in taxpayer backing to open a bar on Hamilton Street? Or when the TC Salon was going to bring wealthy suburbanites to 19th Street and into the city?

Not much of a track record there, yet now we are going to sacrifice the tax revenues of some of our largest employers to finance the latest scheme.

While I hope the replacement of the 15th Street Bridge does begin in 2012, I can't help but remember that replacement had been slated to begin in 2007 but was put off. Or that the bridge has been partially closed for 10 months before any work is even scheduled to begin. Or that the Linden Street bridge was closed for 2 years before work began on a replacement there, and then only because the county stepped in.

These types of things don't happen in well run cities.

In Bill Heydt's day, most of the city's roadways were redone. We're nowhere near that pace now and I can't help but wonder if what is taking UGI so long to replace gas mains is the fact that street reconstruction by the city has slowed so much over the last decade. Oh yes, but now we have a pothole hotline instead.

What we've gotten is at least 10 years of failure and deterioration from Ed Pawlowski.

Allentown needs a Mayor who is focused on the basic yet highly important things that city governments are supposed to do - like public safety and public works. Addressing those issues isn't glamorous but would do more to revitalize the city - and I mean the whole city - than the arena scheme will.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

For one MM, the release I attempted to post is not the one that is in the MCALL. It has similarities but it not the same.

Second, calling the KOZ a failure is a joke. Sure things will never be 100% successful 100% of the time. In the cases of Johnny Mananas and TC Salon the finger can be pointed at the management of the business.

Third, I think Bill was a good mayor; however it is not fair to compare road projects. Linden st was a Lehigh county project. The American Parkway Bridge is funded through the state. 15th street is also funded in the majority through the state. Tilghman St SR 1002 is fully funded by the state. The 8th st (Albertus Meyers Bridge) is also a state road. There are/were two bridges that were the responsibility of the city to repair. Ott St and Albert St. Ott St was/were replaced all together. And Albert St which was damaged beyond repaired by storms has also received FEMA funding for the replacement.

Anonymous said...

American Parkway and its connecting bridge may cost upwards of $100M according to some reports.

ironpigpen said...

With all due respect, Ms. Future, if you would have taken up the offers of either Mr. Molovinsky or myself ...

... you can post whatever you want, whenever you want!

(you could even do it in your pajamas in a basement, if you prefer)



Anonymous said...

"According to the lease, the total cost of the arena will be $157.9 million".... Sara's estimate?
the latest new magic number?

ironpigpen said...

I must be getting old.

I can remember when the project cost was $ 80 million (and the arena site was to be along Front Street so the Lehigh River district could be revitalized.)

Will not be shocked when cost overruns and other "unforeseen" factors hike the total cost to $ 200 million.

I noticed Family Dollar was emptied out this morning - an agreement of some sorts have obviously been reached ...

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

This is an ENORMOUS amount of investment of taxpayer money for such specious return.

When you have a city that's 80% poor, either living for the moment or too old to care, boondoggles like this are easy to push through.

The Brooks group has been given a deal they can't possibly pass up. Sell the naming rights, and they will have almost none of their own money at stake.

Anonymous said...

Who will be scoring on the copper and other valuable scrap generated from this "project"?