Jun 25, 2018

Before The Transformation

For most of Allentown's past, there was no need for a Transformation. We were the ideal city, so much so, that in the mid 1970's, we were proclaimed The All-American City. We were Mayberry, only much larger. Our little leagues played under the lights, and our fathers worked for top union wages. Imagine a city that could boast that it actually manufactured its own fire engines! Imagine a city that had no litter. We now have so much litter, not only do we need trash cans, we need trash compactors. We once were a destination and envied. This blog will continue to report current city events as I perceive them, engage with the bureaucrats as my energy permits, and occasionally share a glimpse of our past.

reprinted from September of 2012

UPDATE JUNE 25, 2018: An article in yesterday's Morning Call compared our current  All American City application with that designation in 1975. Although the article gave statistics, it made no reference that any changes might be abnormal.  At that time, Allentown was 97% white, 2% black and 1% Hispanic.  We are now 53% Hispanic, 10% black and 33% white.  At that time, center city had 3 department stores and dozens and dozens of smaller stores, owned by different people.  All that is now gone, but we have eight new buildings, owned by one person. Besides the dramatic racial demographic shift, which sociologically is a case study in itself,  the article also omitted the social economic shift.  The center city population is drastically poorer than before.


Brent said...

The economic decline of the people of Allentown has a direct relationship to the loss of the manufacturing sector. Also the severe decline in agriculture, of which Lehigh County generated millions of dollars of revenue is also a major factor in the loss of revenue coming into the local economy.

Today, dollars circulate within the community, dollars are not generated by selling products to others, resulting in a high level of instability in the local economy. In addition, the decline of the education establishment, when our schools only graduate 60$ of its students, means a lack of educated citizens, ones which can earn moderate to high incomes. Those with a poor education have limited options, and are more likely to be a drain on the community, rather than an asset.

The reasons for this decline in the 44 years between 1974 and 2018 are many, and our leadership in Allentown finds it more important to decriminalize marijuana than address them directly; most of them hold their political positions by pandering to those who are leading the march to the bottom. Drugging the population is the order of the day, it seems.

It is unfortunate that the Allentown I was born and grew up in today is a memory, both in my thoughts, but also, unfortunately, in reality.

doug_b said...

Well, if you look at other All American Cities in the past: Baltimore Maryland 4 time winner, Philadelphia 4 time winner, Stockton California 4 time winner, Cleveland 5 time winner.

Does that mean Allentown is going the way of the above mentioned cities? I'm not sure it's an award you want. Baltimore - 343 homoicides in 2017. Since 2006, more than 14,500 people have been shot in Philadelphia, a rate of one shooting every six hours.


JoshLCowen said...

The nerve of city officials to even apply for the designation. Our friggn' mayor is on his way to jail for official corruption...and the citizens re-elected him knowing he was a crook. Besides, shouldn't an All-American City have mostly American residents?

TRENT HALL said...

First, Puerto Rican immigrants to NYC & Allentown ARE American residents.

Second, local politicians have had little to do with the loss of manufacturing & agricultural industries in Allentown, which are the primary factors underlying the decline of the city. The main cause for the loss & economic decline is the development of the multi-national corporation, which aided by the policies favored by BIG BUSINESS and supported vigorously by Republican administrations, and trade agreements occasionally by Democratic ones, spurred the onslaught on and destruction of the union movement (thereby removing the most dynamic builder of a middle class) while vigorously promoting corporate globalism. The latter means industry can now relocate manufacturing & outsource administrative functions to anywhere in the world where labor conditions/wages are the lowest and health/safety regulations negligible.
The Trump policy of imposing tariffs will help a relatively small number of people, while increasing costs/the loss of jobs for hundreds of thousands. It will NOT bring back the Allentowns of the USA.
Proposed subsidizes to coal and other dinosaur sectors are simply assine and political con games; far better to embrace evidence based science and invest in technology to combat & reverse climate change, which can produce better paying jobs while preserving an environment for our grand kids.
If Allentown is ever again to reclaim a (deserved) recognition as an All AMERICAN city, it will take policies enacted by Congress & a federal Administration. The city has no money or power to effect much. Undoubtedly the finest contribution a Mayor could make, if good direction from the feds ever materialized, would be to get out of the way, and not create road blocks.