Jun 25, 2015

WPA Walls, The Problem and Parkway Solution

To propose a solution to the WPA walls and structures, today the blog moves to Union Terrace, now named Joseph Daddona Terrace and Lake. Union Terrace was the last large scale WPA project in Allentown. The double stairwell shown above leads down from St. Elmo Street. A similar, but larger version graces Lehigh Parkway, just beyond where the wall there recently collapsed. We see that the top of the staircase wall at Union Terrace is missing numerous stones and mortar. This condition allows rain and snow to steep down inside the
wall, and force out the wall stones during the winter freeze cycles. I'm sorry to report that this condition has existed now for four years, and my reports to the previous park directors fell on deaf ears. This is the same condition which caused the failure of the parkway wall. It is imperative that the top surfaces of these walls and structures are maintained. The vertical planes of the walls are much more forgiving, if the tops are kept sealed. I've chosen Union Terrace for this post because of the new retaining wall built there last year, as part of the Union Street bridge replacement. In building the new bridge, it was necessary to remove the previous retaining wall along Union Street. The new wall, shown below, is actually a concrete wall, which was faced with actual stone retained from the previous WPA wall. The top of the new wall was then capped with flagstone like cement pieces, hiding the concrete and making many fewer mortar joints. If this wall method was employed in Lehigh Parkway, the replacement wall section would meet today's construction standards, and blend well with the remaining WPA wall.


Anonymous said...

Certainly the wall's structural integrity and safety is of utmost importance. You have provided a viable solution in design. But, look at that greenery!

Allentown's once admired public spaces have really been neglected. Very few places under the management of the city look inviting at all. Between all the tumbling hardscape, the idiotic riparian buffer weeds running through key sections of stream view, unkempt plantings, and shoddy mowing, the city looks uninviting. This 'look' can be seen elsewhere in our travels. You know, destinations like Newark, Camden, and Bridgeport.

Allentown can always use more money for such needs, sure. It also needs a sense of CIVIC PRIDE outside of Seventh & Hamilton. The PRIDE part can be had free!

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

MM, as we head into yet another edited out news worty weekend of advertisment downtown only¿ This administration is passing the buck and turning on one another publicly as to resposibility of this reprehencible neglect and derilickktion of duty to the publics park system¿

Thank you for all your fine work on the coverage of this enginerred tragidy Mr Molovisky and your advocates¿ There is only a few more months and some will be fleeing like theifs in the night¿ The negatives far weigh out the hopeful positives in this once all around beautiful city that was national recganized as the place to raise a familiy¿ This most definatly because of the park systems historic artdeco gotic treasures burried and now neglected¿

patent pending

Anonymous said...


Any suggestions on a course of action to make this happen?

If we know anything, City Hall will do nothing without intense public pressure.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:03, there is a facebook page entitled, WPA Lehigh Valley Save Our Structures, if people would share the page on their page, it would increase awareness

Anonymous said...

We KNOW the Morning Call reads this blog for story ideas. It WILL take a wider audience than here to discuss this issue. Could make for a lively discussion, although the Morning Call Comments section is poorly utilized. Mostly the same dozen people(including a few kooks)take the time to offer an opinion. I no longer bother to post there.

If a discussion on the Morning Call did take root, and it criticizes city officials too much, particularly the Mayor, the story will be quickly buried. But, most of the right people will have read the comments the same day they appear. Some might be motivated to change their ways.

Fred Windish