Jan 10, 2014

The History Mission of molovinsky on allentown

Since it's inception, molovinsky on allentown has published local history along with political commentary. Allentown has become a city of immigrants; Whether it's our from out of town mayor and his from out of town staff, or our new population demographics, it's difficult to find someone who has lived here for more than twenty years. Redevelopment is nothing new to Allentown. Entire neighborhoods and portions of Hamilton Street have disappeared in the past. There has never been a shortage of new bridges or political ambition. This blog, unencumbered by considerations of political correctness or business promotion, posts these short historical markers, as reference points for the curious.

When opened 1913, the Eighth Street Bridge was the longest and highest reinforced concrete arch bridge in the world. The Lehigh Valley Transit Company organized the Allentown Bridge Company in 1911 for the sole purpose of building the bridge. The structure operated as a toll bridge from its November 17, 1913 opening until the 1950s, at which time the toll was five cents for an automobile. The concrete standards that once supported the trolley wire are still standing. Harry C. Trexler, founding member of the Transit Company and Lehigh Portland Cement Co., was a principle player in the construction of this bridge. General Trexler's grave-site, in Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street, affords unique views of the bridge and center city Allentown.


Anonymous said...

Once again, outstanding historic photos of the 'good ole days.' A real treat to visit this site. I have a vague memory of the early fifties and your images always bring things into focus. Now, a question.

All the images feature millions of roadway bricks. I recall this from the Bethlehem Armory/Hill-to-Hill Bridge/Wyandotte Street areas, as well as certain Allentown streets.

Did we have Allentown Area brick manufacturers, and where were they?

michael molovinsky said...

@9:29, i would think that with brick being the primary building material in early allentown for both homes and factories, that there certainly were local producers, especially considering the weight involved in extended transport. i know that there was a brick industry in quakertown, but i'm not familiar with such in allentown.

Anonymous said...

My family has been in Allentown for about 25 years. Thank you for your pictures and articles it helps connect us to our cities past.

-Steven Ramos

michael molovinsky said...

steve @10:16, new residents, across the economic spectrum, are now a fact of life for allentown, and the lehigh valley. i believe that pawlowski might well be the first mayor not born in allentown.

LVCI said...

BRICKS--- One of the jobs my late father-in-law did was unload bricks that were brought in by rail for the PP&L building. I may be incorrect, but I think the location was at the 17th & Liberty siding. So I'm not sure we had brick manufacturers in Allentown. Either that or the type of brick they needed for PP&L was not made in town.

LVCI said...

Speaking of Bricks... According to Wikipedia the first mayor Samuel McHose (1867–1869, Republican)... "Founded the Allentown Fire Brick Works in 1854 at Front and Gordon streets."

Mayors Not From Allentown---
The only ones I can find with certainty not from Allentown was the 9th mayor-- Edwin S. Shimer who was born in Shimersville. The 22nd-- Charles W. Rinn born in Easton.

So indeed there may have only been 2 other mayors out of 40 (until Pawlowski came along as the 41st) who were born nearby, but not in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

Love the Blog Mike. x

"The Allentown Paving Brick Company's plant is located at Station near Allentown and has been in operation since 1896 have a daily output of 18,000 red paving bricks and the material is a yellowish brown shale resembling somewhat the slates interstratified in the Ordovician limestone It is not from the examination of this single locality whether the shale this point is interstratified in the limestone or is part of the Hudson River beds overlying the limestone The chief market Allentown where the bricks are used in large quantities for the city streets."


The only place in Lehigh County where shales are known to have
been used for brick manufacture is ,on the north slope of Huckleberry
Ridge. The plant is now in ruins. Weathered Martinsburg shales
were used. The product was paving brick. From the appearance of
the broken brick about the place, they were of go’od quality.
The following account of this operati.on is given in the History of
Lehigh C’ounty (Roberts et. al. 1914).
Vitrified Brick Plant.-In 1896, Dr. H. K. Hartzell, William F. Mosser, and
Andrew Keck embarked in the manufacture of vitrified brick in the township
(South Whitehall), near Guth’s Station on the C. & F. 3. R. A superior
plant was established and a fine circular smoke-st.ack, 1241/, feet high, was
erected, with ovens having a capacity of 50,,0,00 bricks; and 15 acres of land
with a large deposit of shale material was purchased. Active and successful
operations were carried on by them for a number of years. In 19108, a reorganization
was effected as the Allentown Brick Co., with H. L. Dougherty
as president and J. R. Connelly as superintendent and the business was
carried on until 1913. The character of the brick was recognized as superior.

Link: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&ved=0CD0QFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdigital.lib.lehigh.edu%2Flvgeology%2Fpdf%2FpgsLC399.pdf&ei=rUbQUr2RAenJsQSf2IGgDA&usg=AFQjCNFuGROdVOFgGI0sdT2rjVTeOsIMMA&bvm=bv.59026428,d.cWc

Anonymous said...


The brick plant, kilns and stack are now gone. The quarry face is evident on the south east corner of huckleberry and brickyard rd at Guth's Station in South Whitehall Township.


michael molovinsky said...

@4:43, thanks for the info, now we know where the pavers came from. i suspect that there was also a local building brick company.

for web addresses to appear as links in the comments they must be sent with the html code

Anonymous said...

WJ EGGE & CO Manufactures of Bricks Tenth Street Near Allen Few cities of the same size have within their limits so many manufacturers of brick as can be found in Allentown The clay found in this vicinity is recognized as being very superior for the purpose and the brick manufactured therefrom are considered to be the equal if not superior of any produced in the Valley The quantity annually manufactured at this point is continually growing greater and it forms one of the important industries of the city Prominent among the yards here located will be found that of WJ Eggc & Co which was opened about fifteen years ago The site is a very desirable one and comprises every facility for the rapid manufacture of Brick of all common grades The production of the yard averages about twelve thousand brick per day and this amount is not any more than sufficient to supply the growing trade of the firm They have two kilns one with a capacity of 2X1 000 and the other of 140,000 brick employ about the premises fifteen to twenty hands There being no demand for home made pressed brick the firm confine themselves exclusively to manufacturing the ordinary redbrick and now occupy a leading position in the trade The firm is composed of William J Kggc and WP Huber both natives of Allentown the former and bend of the tan being a practical man in brick making of fifty years experience.


administrator said...

love the local history that you continuously bring to light.

one thing i don't click with: I don't think it's very hard to find people who have lived here for more than 20 years, even though you're right about changing demographics. There are still many, many families with long, long histories here. If that weren't so, we wouldn't hear so much about Hess's, for one. Lots of folks in their 50s and older who grew up here still live here with extended families.