Jan 23, 2018

Pawlowski Could Walk

The first day of the trial went very well for Pawlowski.  It was determined that Pawlowski can indeed testify in his own defense.  In stage presence, the prosecution seems no match for Jack McMahon,  Pawlowski's high power Philadelphia lawyer.  While the judge did demonstrate that he wouldn't allow McMahon to bully,  his extensive courtroom experience was never the less apparent.  Although the tapes played clearly showed that Pawlowski was annoyed about how little some contributors ponied up,  there was no quid pro quo arrangement demonstrated , which is necessary for a conviction.  Although Pawlowski's expectations about contributions was clear enough, again from a legal threshold, the statements were implicit, short of a required explicit arrangement.  Even the Eagles victory worked for Ed yesterday, with the Philadelphia media being a no-show for day one.  If it had been a one day trial,  Ed would have walked.  While it is not a one day trial,  it was a very important day, the jury's first impression.

I did NOT attend yesterday's proceeding.  This report is based on feedback from several people whose power of observation I know and trust.

illustration for The Morning Call by Bill Ternay

Jan 22, 2018

Pawlowski Pre-trial Musings

Today Mayor Pawlowski's long awaited trial actually begins. As I scanned the defense witness list I wondered what would motivate most of these people, besides the subpoena,  to cooperate on Ed's behalf.  Then it occurred to me that it was an opportunity to publicity disavow any knowledge of any wrongdoing.  Now there are a few of these people who consider themselves friends of Ed,  and  would  testify for Ed's sake.  Alan Jennings would be among that group,  but I believe most on the list are on the public disavow side.  I suspect that at least one person, who was propelled into the public money income stream by Ed, wants to show that she can be counted on to be discreet.

On a city issue facebook site,  a reader wondered why people complaining about Pawlowski re-elected him?  Actually, most people aware enough to participate on such a site, didn't directly vote for him. However, many did write-in the name of a third candidate, which resulted in Pawlowski's victory.

In my previous post I discussed the psychology of  Pawlowski's facebook posts.  I would think such insertions by him violate the intent of the court order for him not to discuss the case.   Convicted or not,  prison assigned or not,  a good therapist might be in order.

Welcome to Molovinsky On Allentown.  This blog is produced every weekday to illuminate local politics.  I am an independent monitor and an occasional activist, when necessary.  Your comments are welcome and your readership is appreciated.  

Jan 19, 2018

Pawlowski On Facebook

I find Ed Pawlowski's posts on facebook rather remarkable. He seems to have two kinds; One version is his activities in Allentown, completely ignoring his upcoming trial. Understand that I have anxiety even over a haircut appointment, much less federal prosecution. His second kind of posts deal with the law. Although the law has changed since the investigation began into his shenanigans, and he could be acquitted, nine people already pleaded guilty to abetting him in his intent, which was alledgedly  to shake down contributors.

His facebook posts are indeed quite a pyschological profile.  The election is over, and the jury was selected in Philadelphia. Pawlowski took his wife and children along to Philadelphia,  where she was admonished by the judge for chatting up potential jurors.  One must wonder who he is trying to convince with his facebook posts?  Perhaps himself.

Jan 18, 2018

Chris Kocher Reneges On Pledge

Chris Kocher's letter to the editor,  which appeared in The Morning Call on December 7, 2014, assured the public  that the Wildlands Conservancy will respect certainly whatever decision South Whitehall Township makes about the (Wehr's) dam's future.  It was of course just a public relations gesture, knowing full well how much influence his organization welded over the township.  In reality, the Wildlands have written the township's Master Park Plan, which called for the dam's demolition.

When the Commissioners were presented with over 7,600 signatures, actually collected at the dam itself, they felt publicly pressured not to give the Wildlands permission to proceed with the demolition.  However,  they declined to proclaim the dam saved, or grant it historical designation. Likewise,  despite Kochers gesture in his letter, he made no subsequent statement.

The Commissioners then decided to hold a public referendum on funding the dam's repair, believing that the public would never vote themselves a tax increase to save the dam.  Once again they underestimated the public's regard for the beautiful historic structure.

Although Chris Kocher publicly stated that the Wildlands would back away from the dam's demolition if the Commissioners voted to save it, he never has afforded the residents of South Whitehall the same respect.  On the contrary, the Wildlands has written the state, claiming that the dam is in poorer condition than the state inspection indicated. It is now morally incumbent upon the Wildlands Conservancy to respect the wishes of the public, as affirmed through the referendum.  After writing his letter to the editor back in 2014,  hopefully Kocher has the integrity to now publicly repeat his commitment to the residents of the township.

reprinted from May 2017

photocredit: K Mary Hess

Jan 17, 2018

A Crime By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little  Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam ruble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that ruble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffer.

reprinted from June 2016 and earlier

UPDATE JANUARY 2018: The Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove, piece by piece, all the rubble that they piled around the bridge piers, despoiling the bridge's beauty. City Council should refrain from ever again permitting The Wildlands Conservancy to alter our park designs.

Jan 16, 2018

The Morning Call Inadvertently Enables Deception

The Morning Call continues to inadvertently  support deception by one of its favorite sacred cows, The Wildlands Conservancy.   Last year I provided documentation to the paper demonstrating that the Wildlands was working with South Whitehall Township to ignore the voters referendum saving Wehr's Dam.  The paper continues to ignore this violation of the voter's trust,  and refuses to print my op-ed on the topic.  Yesterday,  the paper had a story about road salt getting into our waterways,  and  once again presents the Wildland Conservancy as the local authority on the problem, and the corresponding solutions to it.  The Wildlands recommends riparian buffers to help filter the salt from the streams.  What the Wildlands fails to divulge is that they get grants to design buffers in the parks, but that the storm sewer systems are piped directly into the streams,  bypassing the buffers.  This is the sort of  omission  and deception regularly used by the Wildlands to justify the grants that they use for these projects.  They are allowed to use a percentage of the grants for administrative purposes,  providing a revenue stream for their salaries.

The consequences of their distortions have been substantial.  Lehigh Parkway lost its beautiful decorative Robin Hood Dam, which was the last WPA construction in the park.  The removal of the Fish Hatchery Dam resulted in a massive trout kill during the next major storm.  They continuously cite current generalized environmental trends, but ignore the specifics related to a particular site.

In fairness to The Morning Call, circumstances help the Wildlands  pass off these deceptions. For instance, the Wehr's Dam controversy which stretched out for two years, was covered by five different string reporters.  There is no regular reporter assigned to the South Whitehall Township meetings. Allentown has City Council members, a park director, and a mayor who are not native Allentonians,  nor are they very familiar with the park system.  Never the less, the paper should be committed to protecting our icons,  before promoting any organization's agenda ahead of our history.

photo of former Robin Hood Dam, demolished by The Wildlands Conservancy

Jan 15, 2018

The Saga Of Ed Pawlowski

Tomorrow the corruption trial of Ed Pawlowski starts in Philadelphia, where a jury will be selected. The trial itself will then take place in Allentown.  Although Allentown will be a media circus for the trial,  this blog will not be covering the trial details.  In my mind Allentown has already been rightly found guilty.  What does it say about a city that elects someone with fifty four counts of corruption filed against him?

I suppose that the trial will be good for downtown business.  All those reporters to feed and house, while Ed's lawyer proclaims his innocence. Although I will not report on the trial per se, I may opine on the accompanying circus.

Allentown's new construction will finally get the exposure which it craves.  Although the Morning Call has been promoting the NIZ, its reach was limited.  Credit Ed Pawlowski for bringing the national press to town.

Jan 12, 2018

Sheftel & Malenovsky

In 1920, two brother- in-laws bought a truck and started dealing in cloth scraps from the many sewing factories in the Lehigh Valley. By 1950 the firm was called A. Sheftel and Sons, but scattered throughout the valley were still buildings with the older Sheftel and Malenovsky banner painted on the side. Other families also traded in the by-products from the large local needle trade industry, mainly the Levines and Pearlmans. Although the sewing factories declined locally, the Sheftel sons grew the business nationally, and today it is operated by the third generation. In the minds of old timers, the Sheftels and Malenovskys are still linked. By coincidence, less than 24 hours after a previous posting concerning my maternal grandfather's citizenship paper, I received a call from the Sheftel family. They had no real knowledge of me, much less my blog. They had discovered that in their possession was a copy of my paternal grandfather's citizenship paper, Aaron Moloviensky. My family in the 1930's had attempted to "Americanize" our name, by changing it from Moloviensky to Molovinsky, it didn't work. Apparently, at sometime in the past  after a local Jewish History exhibit, someone had placed the Moloviensky document in the Sheftel-Malenovsky folder.

reprinted from 2007 and 2010

Jan 11, 2018

Urban Renew, A Temporary Solution

Urban renewal projects are nothing new to Allentown. Every couple decades some Mayor thinks he has a brighter idea. In a previous post, I showed the historic Lehigh and Union Street neighborhood, totally destroyed by city planners. Today, an under used Bank calling center sits awkwardly alone on that Lehigh Street hill. The picture above shows another hill of merchants and residents, fed to a mayor's bulldozer. The picture is from 1953, and shows Hamilton Street, from Penn Street down toward the railroad stations. At that time we still had two stations, The Lehigh Valley Railroad and The New Jersey Central. The current closed bar and restaurant occupies the Jersey Central. Everything on Hamilton Street, west of the bridge over the Jordan creek, with the exception of the Post Office, was demolished up to Fifth Street. Government Center would be built on the north side of the street, and a new hotel on the south, to accommodate the many anticipated visitors. Recently we had to remove and replace the facade of the county courthouse, which leaked since it was constructed. The hotel is now a rooming house.

Unannounced plans are underway for a new hotel to service anticipated visitors to Pawlowski's Palace of Sports. It will be up to some future blogger to document how that hotel becomes a rooming house.

reprinted from December of 2013 and 2011 

ADDENDUM JANUARY 2018: Reilly's new NIZ funded Renaissance Hotel doomed the former Hilton Hotel at 9th and Hamilton, once a new jewel in a former urban renewal scheme. The hotel, most recently with a Holiday Inn designation, is now in Reilly's vast City Center Real Estate portfolio.

Jan 10, 2018

Park And Shop

Downtown Allentown boomed for about 100 years. During the prosperity years following World War II, the two car family emerged. Several business leaders of Allentown realized both the parking problem and the potential to enhance sales. Park and Shop was begun by Harvey Farr, Donald Miller and John Leh. The current small parking deck at 10th and Hamilton, above the Parking Authority Office, was the first deck in the country. To make the parking lots, shown in the postcard above, houses were purchased and torn down. Merchants would stamp the parking tickets, providing free or reduced cost parking. As the suburban shopping malls eventually eroded the commerce on Hamilton Street, both Hess Brothers and Lehs competed with the mall convenience by building their own connecting parking decks.

As the viability of the Park And Shop enterprise declined, The Allentown Parking Authority was conveniently formed, and it purchased the lots.

Although business hardly still exists on Hamilton Street, The Parking Authority, through demonic enforcement, has become a growth industry. Because of the converted apartments, and our one car per person society, parking remains an issue in center city. Unfortunately, the current Administration has prevailed upon The Parking Authority to sell several essential neighborhood lots to a contractor for new housing.

Although the gentlemen mentioned in this article profited from their influence, they always provided solutions for the betterment of the community. They seemed to belong to a bygone era.

reprinted from August of 2009

Jan 9, 2018

Bill White Loses His Mind

Bill White wrote that there were tears running down his cheek during Oprah's speech on the Golden Calf Awards. At first I thought that he was kidding, but as I read on I realized that he was serious.
                   She’s smart. She’s eloquent, She’s compassionate. She’s classy. 
                   It would be a nice change.                                                     
 I think that perhaps he should just start wearing a pink hat while he's at it.  It wasn't that many years ago that a Morning Call reporter lost his job for being the grand Marshall in a Gay Pride Parade.  Reporters could always get away with slanting the news, but they were not supposed to be the news. They were not suppose to wear their politics on their sleeves.

The award show itself deserves an award for hypocrisy.  Spare me the pretty boys and girls dressed in black. Spare me the delusional grandiosity. It is an industry based largely on sex, both appeal and fantasy.   Spare me, but thank you for the Halle Berry's with their peek- a -boo dresses, but in black of course.

Bill White thinks that Oprah would make a good president.  What a gift her candidacy would be for the Republicans come 2020.

Jan 8, 2018

1953 In Allentown

In 1953 you could escape the crowds on Hamilton Street by walking down beyond the third department store, Zollinger Harned, to the 500 Block. The malls in Whitehall were still two decades away, and Hamilton Street was where the Lehigh Valley shopped. Although the photograph above shows a trolley and a bus, the last trolly would run in June of that year. South side Allentown was bustling with Mack Truck and General Electric. The first supermarket, FoodFair, opened that year on Lehigh Street, now the Parkway Shopping center. In addition to the three department stores, downtown Allentown boasted three five and dimes and five movie theaters. Ike was our President, and Brighton Diefenderfer was our mayor. In the scene above, Man In The Dark is playing at the Colonial Theater. In that 3D movie, a criminal gets a second chance if he submits to an operation to excise the criminal portion of his brain. In 2018, could we give our elected officials that option?

reprinted from May of 2012

Jan 5, 2018

2nd and Hamilton

Up to the mid 1960's,  before Allentown started tinkering with urban redevelopment, lower Hamilton Street still teemed with businesses. The City had grown from the river west,  and lower Hamilton Street was a vibrant area.  Two train stations and several rail lines crossed the busy thoroughfare.  Front, Ridge and Second were major streets in the first half of the twentieth century.  My grandparents settled on the 600 block of 2nd Street in 1895, along with other Jewish immigrants from Russia and Lithuania.  As a boy, I worked at my father's meat market on Union Street.  I would have lunch at a diner, just out of view in the photo above.  The diner was across from the A&P,  set back from the people shown on the corner.  A&P featured bags of ground to order 8 O'Clock coffee, the Starbucks of it's day.
please click on photo
photocredit:Ed Miller, 1953
reprinted from October 2015

Jan 4, 2018

Christmas No Good For Parkway Santa

This Christmas wasn't so good for the Parkway's Santa,  Michael Adams.   Adams was evicted from the Log and Stone House in Lehigh Parkway.   He had an understanding with Pawlowski that in exchange for upgrading and maintaining the structure,  he could live there rent free.  This fall, out of nowhere,  Pawlowski's henchmen appeared with an eviction notice for back payment of rent.   Although their arrangement was never put into writing, facts on the ground support Adam's case.  He lived there for ten years without paying rent. Among many improvements to the property,  he installed a new roof, a new heating system, and new electrical wiring.

While visitors drove past the house this Christmas,  lit up as part of Lights In The Parkway,  little did they know the true scrooge story behind this year's display.  Hopefully,  there will be some justice for the Parkway's Santa.

Jan 3, 2018

O'Connell's Bad Bet

Ray O'Connell made a bet last fall that seems to have turned out bad for both him and the city.  As a highly promoted write-in candidate in the mayoral election,  he effectively blocked Nat Hyman from being elected mayor.   Pawlowski's win insured that Allentown will essentially be rudderless at least  well into 2018.  While O'Connell didn't believe that he would win the election,  he did think that Pawlowski would likely resign in a plea deal,  rather than face trial.  It appears as if Mayor Ed is willing to take his chances in the courtroom.  Furthermore, O'Connell believed that if Pawlowski went to court,  when convicted the then acting mayor, Daryl Hendricks,  would step aside after 30 days and that council would appoint him (O'Connell) mayor.

Last night it was Hendricks who stepped aside,  allowing Roger MacLean to become council president and mayor,  if Pawlowski happens to be convicted.  I do not believe that Pawlowski's conviction is a certainty. In many ways Allentown has already lost.  Pawlowski has formed a political block from a segment of the minority population, that proved this past November that it doesn't consider ethics a priority.

ADDENDUM: If MacLean happens to become mayor,  either by Pawlowski's resignation or conviction,  he is well qualified to lead Allentown out from under the cloud of Pawlowski's indictment.

Jan 2, 2018

The Cloud Above Allentown's Good News

Often when I read articles praising Allentown's revitalization I wonder on what planet the author lives? But I can understand how the out of town cub reporters can misinterpret the construction boom occurring in center city. After all, who could imagine an incentive program like Reilly's NIZ? Recently, Allentown was featured in an article noting its increase in home ownership. Once again,  I'm afraid that there is a gap between the article's conclusions and the local reality.

The housing bubble burst in 2008 because far too many unqualified buyers were being approved for mortgages. In today's center city housing market there is another time bomb, seller's assist. People are buying homes with absolutely no skin in the game. There is a school of thought where urbanists think that homeownership provides the marginally qualified with roots. I'm not sure if that philosophy really helps a city in the longterm, but we seem to be inadvertently embarking down that path.

Jan 1, 2018

The Winter Of My Discontent

With the forecast of another snowstorm coming Wednesday evening, my memory turns to the winter of 1993-94. I was living on a long corner on Union Street, in Hamilton Park. By this time in 1994, the path from my front door to the sidewalk was like a snow tunnel, with walls over three feet high. The busy intersection had a crossing guard, and it was important that I kept the corner clear, constantly digging through the plow curl from two directions.  The reason I remember that winter wasn't because of my house, but at the time I maintained buildings in center city. My days consisted mostly of salting, chopping and shoveling, one property after another, from one snowstorm after another. Driving my station wagon, filled with 50lb. salt bags, up the alleys was like a kiddie ride at Dorney Park, the ruts would steer the car, no hands were necessary. This post and the previous one are somewhat unusual for me. I have for the most part maintained a privacy wall between my business and my blogging. Tomorrow evening, The Tenant Association of Allentown will complain to City Council about slumlords; I thought that in the interest of balance I would give a glimpse into conscientious landlording. Although the meeting might be cancelled once again because of the snow, Allentown's many good landlords will still be out shoveling the sidewalks.

photocredit:The Morning Call/Dumping snow off the former Linden Street Bridge into the Jordan Creek

reprinted from February of 2014

Dec 29, 2017

Allentown's Pending Cold Winter

2018 promises to be a cold winter in Allentown. The city is being governed by a mayor facing over fifty charges of corruption. He was elected by plurality in a three way election, mostly by Allentown's newer Hispanic population. If he is forced to resign because of a plea or conviction, Ray O'Connell expects to be selected mayor by city council.

The photograph shown above is from 1958. It was taken in Little Lehigh Manor, the 1940's era housing development located above Lehigh Parkway's south ridge. I had the pleasure of growing up in that neighborhood. In yesterday's post the hill favored by the kids of that neighborhood was featured. Other popular sledding hills in Allentown were behind Cedar Crest College, and Ott Street, between Livingston and Greenleaf Streets. Years ago a bridge crossed the creek by the park office at 30th and Parkway Blvd., with a parking area for sledders by the Cedar Crest hill.  The Ott Street hill was closed to cars by the city, as an accommodation for sledders.

None of these hills are now accessible to a kid with a sled. The current mayor has no memory of those times, and might be too preoccupied to care much about sledding this winter.

photo courtesy of S. Williams.

Dec 28, 2017

A Park Protestor From The Past

`Green' Curtain Blocks Sledding And The View
January 09, 1992|The Morning Call
To the Editor:

Hold your sleds girls and boys! Others, too, on the alert! With the planting of a dense cluster of 60 evergreen trees and the erection of a "No Sledding" sign, creating a veritable iron curtain, the park and watershed people have once again undertaken their repetitive effort of the past 45 years to eliminate a most popular sledding slope in Lehigh Parkway. The motive -- crass self-interest in defiance of public good. The effect -- an impassable barrier and concealment of a magnificent vista of "one of the finest valleys in Eastern Pennsylvania."

Children and adults from the 400 homes with longtime and easy access to the slope and others arriving in cars have enjoyed sledding here after school and into the night and throughout the day and night on weekends. Yet sledding is but one of the attractions of this enduring slope. In summer children and teachers from Lehigh Parkway Elementary School have enjoyed a walk down the slope and into the park for a break from book and blackboard. Birders, joggers, hikers and others on a leisurely stroll engrossed in their particular interest have found the slope irresistible.

For a host of others, this opening into the park after a long stretch of woods presents a charming vista and urge to descend. Interest is immediately evoked by the sight of a mid-19th century log house  and a historic wagon trail leading past the site of a lime kiln to tillable lands of earlier times.

The view takes in an expanse of meadowlands, now groomed, to the Little Lehigh River and up the western slope to Lehigh Parkway North. Indeed, a pleasant view to be esteemed and preserved for generations to come. It was distressing on New Year's Day to see a family and their guests intent upon a walk down the slope suddenly stop in amazement and shock as the closure became evident.

The cost in dollars through the years of the park peoples' fixation on destroying the Parkway slope must be staggering indeed without dwelling on other deliberate depletions. Typically, the placement of the 1991 "No Sledding" sign employed a team of four men with three vehicles -- a backhoe, a panel truck, and a super cab pickup truck, the latter furnishing radio music.


Burt Luckenbach was a park activist, who wrote this letter in 1992. Few remember sledding on that hill above the Log & Stone house, but I do. The open hill was located at the end of Lehigh Parkway South, near the intersection with Coronado Street. The Wagon Trail has been blocked off for years by several large fallen trees. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Luckenbach, but like to think that he would approve of my efforts regarding the parks.

reprinted from January of 2015

Dec 27, 2017

Blogging, The Last Watchtower

Anybody who buys The Morning Call on a Monday knows what slim pickings are. The paper is produced on Friday, with a one man weekend crew, to cover the police blotter. There's hardly enough paper to cover the bottom of a bird cage. That leaves the news junkies forced to read the likes of me.

 I'm fascinated with how much Allentown has changed within the last 50 years, and find the railroads  a good metaphor. In my youth the city was serviced by several rail branch lines with dozens of sidings, supplying many industries with raw materials to produce products distributed all over the country. Those industries fostered a large middle class, and a high standard of living. We were the truck capital of the world, we were home to the first transistors, and a retail legend. The tower shown above in 1963, and the gas tank in the background, were on Union Street. Although they are both now gone, this blogger will continue to combine history, news and commentary for those of us who still remember a different era.

reprinted from November of 2013

Dec 26, 2017

Molovinsky Christmas Tour

Yesterday I posted about Bill White's recommended Christmas Light tours.  I hope that caravans of  new SUV's are taking White's tours, because he publishes his recommendations every year.  Bill, after all these years,  has his job down almost on autopilot;  Christmas light tours,  Eating his way through Musikfest,  Cake contest at fair, Grammar columns,  Hall of Shame, Worst sentence writer. etc., etc.

Anyway, I recommend that nobody take my light tour,  it's in the hood in center city Allentown. Actually, the block shown has had its share of crime in recent years. The alley is narrow,  so there is no passing another car.  The double parkers get very annoyed if you beep your horn.  Best to stick with White's tours out in suburbia, with the inflated decorations that are flaccid during the day.  Personally,  I prefer the center city house decorations.  There is something so much more inspiring about decorating a low income house, many of which are rentals.  It makes me feel better and more hopeful about downtown.

Dec 25, 2017

Bill White's Christmas Lights

I was never on Bill White's Christmas Lights tour, but all I could think of was Chevy Chase, putting together the plug in his Christmas Lampoon Movie. I imagined that in Bill's mind, the more the better, aesthetics aside. Yesterday the newspaper showed photographs of some of the houses; Yep, I was right. Now, I understand the appeal of wattage, especially for children. As a child, my father would drive us by a house on Union Street, just beyond Union Terrace. It was a ranch house with easy access to the roof. This man did the whole shebang; roof outline in lights, Santa sled and reindeer on roof, and lots of lawn ornaments. As the gentleman and his display aged, less would appear each year. Fortunately for children, Santa, although no spring chicken and fat, never gets too old to deliver.

Blogger's Note: Christmas lights are enjoyed by people of all ages and faiths. Bill White and his crew have spent many hours locating those houses which best give what he calls the gift of WOW. Pictures and directions for the light tour can be found on The Morning Call Website.

reprinted from December of 2010

Dec 22, 2017

The Trains Of Allentown

As a blogger, at the moment, I need a rest from those bureaucracies which I find so exasperating, and perhaps visa versa. I suppose it would be a good time to stop and reminisce some more about trains, both model and real. Shown above was the real deal when the 0 gauge was king. Before I go too far, let me state that growing up I never had a train. For a few years I had a friend whose father, looking back, was rather obsessed with the hobby. He had the transformer shown. It was 275 watts, and could operate four trains and an assortment of accessories. For many years, Bloch's Hobby Store, in the 400 block of 7th Street, was a model train expert. Trains were also sold at Pollard's Firestone Tire Store, also on 7th Street.

I've presented a number of Barber Quarry branch line photographs in previous posts. The one below shows the siding at the former Traylor Engineering Plant on S. 10th Street, now owned by the AEDC. About 20 years ago the track was removed for the entire  length of the former rail line.
  photogragh by Mark Rabenold, 1987

reprinted from April of 2013

Dec 21, 2017

Christmas Time In Allentown

The other day Kenneth Heffentrager announced that he was interested in being appointed to the Redevelopment Authority. Ken has a dilemma; Such appointments are made by the mayor, and Ken is a grass roots street level organizer. Pawlowski historically has appointed certified yes men to his boards. It is for that reason that often one person will serve on several boards in Allentown. Although Ken is a founding member of the Allentown Tenant Association, he has also been somewhat of a thorn in Pawlowski's side, advocating for more housing inspectors. Although he is completely qualified for the position he seeks, this blog post isn't really about him.

Ken made his pitch for appointment on facebook. One of the readers wished him well, but then commented that she did not want to concern herself with such matters during the Christmas season. Politicians count on such reactions. Add in those that concentrate on Thanksgiving, Easter and their summer vocation, and you can end up electing an indicted mayor.  Another reader, who herself was appointed by Pawlowski to another commission, wondered if Ken would be able to function objectively,  considering his past tensions with the mayor.  I think that citizens should wonder if someone who is an avid supporter of Pawlowski could function fairly in such a position?

While my interest in local politics isn't reduced by holidays, the recent election results were very discouraging. Perhaps that is why this blog has been concentrating on its other component, local history. On that note,  I have used this old A-Treat Seasons Greetings as today's illustration. The A-Treat Company, after closing several years ago,  has been purchased and restarted by the Jaindl family.

Dec 20, 2017

The Butchers Of Allentown

Those coming here today looking for a story about sloppy civic leadership will be disappointed. This post is literally about butchers, more specifically, some butchers at Allentown Meat Packing Company. A few days ago, while at the Fairground's Farmers Market, I learned that Bobby had passed away. Bobby was the "kid" who worked at my father's meat market on Union Street. Bobby grew up in an orphanage, a hardship which my father respected. One meat cutter that I knew nothing about was Lamont, other than he lived at the WestEnd Hotel. He was a bear of a man, who could carry a beef quarter from the cooler with no effort. I never saw Lamont in the market portion of the shop, he always remained in the back, either in the large cooler or the adjoining cutting room. While my father insisted that people working on the counter change their meat coat and apron several times during the day, no such rule was imposed upon Lamont. Although he would look over the trays of meat before being taken out to the display cases, he never spoke. Last time I spoke to Bobby, he told me that he appreciated that my father had taught him a trade, which he used throughout his life.

reprinted from June of 2015

Dec 19, 2017

The Trains Of Union Street

Up to the late 1960's, Union Street, between the Jordan Creek and Lehigh River, was  crossed by numerous train tracks. In addition to the main tracks for the New Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley Railroads, the area hosted many sidings for the industries that once huddled along this historic river front area.  There was a small rail yard with five sidings between the UGI gas storage tank, which dominated Allentown's skyline, and Allentown Meat Packing Company.  The photo above dates from the late 1940's.  The map below from the early 1930's.

Small rail yard on bottom left of map. Allentown Meat Packing was the former H.H. Steinmetz Co. in 1932.

reprinted from June 2013

Dec 18, 2017

Irony In Pennsylvania

The Overseas Chinook was built in the Philadelphia shipyard by the Aker Company in 2010. The oil tanker shuttles between the Sabine Pass Refinery in Louisiana, and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.   Credit former mayor/governor Rendall for advocating to continue shipbuilding at the former Navy facility.  It was a joint effort between the federal government (Jones Act), Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.  The shipyard provides high quality jobs, building real things which continue to serve our economy.  Pennsylvania is now trying to induce Amazon to locate their proposed east coast headquarters in Philadelphia.  Coincidentally,  the Amazon campus would be on the business park section of the navy yard.

Amazon has issued requests for proposals to American cities, claiming that the new headquarters might eventually employ up to 50,000 people.  Amazon sells things mostly made in China to American consumers over the web.  In the process they are essentially putting the brick and mortar retail sector out of business. The incentives offered to Amazon from Philadelphia alone are valued at over a $billion dollars.  While Philadelphia would benefit from Amazon,  I find it ironic that this virtual monopoly can demand subsidies, while decimating our shopping malls.

photo:  Overseas Chinook entering the cut to Port Everglades/molovinsky

Dec 15, 2017

Retail Meats, Wholesale Prices

In a previous post about my father's meat market, Allentown Meat Packing,  I give a brief history of the business. There were not many retail businesses on lower Union Street, before the Hamilton Street Bridge. The Orange Car was there because of a railroad siding, which could provide fresh fruit from Florida during the winter. Allentown Meat Packing had previously been a slaughterhouse and wholesale meat packer. A former cooler facing Union Street was converted into a store room. The ceiling still had the rails where sides of beef once hung. Although supermarkets were beginning to affect the butcher shops, the independents survived till the mid 1960's. He would place a small ad every week in The Morning Call. His customers came from all over the city, often having to wait 15 minutes as long freight trains crossed Union Street. In addition to meat, he sold some canned goods, lined up on shelves behind the meat cases. The hours were long and the work was hard. Today's supermarkets have once again installed butcher meat cases, in addition to the open self service displays. Those cases are there to make you think that you're in a butcher shop.

reprinted from October of 2013

Dec 14, 2017

Allentown Meat Packing Co.

My grandfather lived on the corner of Jordan and Chew, and butchered in a small barn behind the house. He would deliver by horse and wagon to his customers, corner markets. The house is still there, the barn, long gone. My father, and one of his brothers, acquired the H.H. Steinmetz packing house in 1943. Operating as Allentown Meat Packing, by 1950 they closed the slaughter house, and converted the front of the plant into a meat market open to the public. That continued to 1970, when it was leased to an operator who sold meat by freezer full packages. In 1975 the building was torn down, as part of a long term lease agreement with A&B, who wanted the space for parking. The photo was taken just prior to demolition.

reprinted from June 2013

Dec 13, 2017

A Supremo Christmas

While I've never shown much enthusiasm for J.B. Reilly's attempt to revitalize downtown through his high end shops, neither has the marketplace. Christmas day, I visited the new Supremo Market on 7th Street, occupying the former Levine's Fabric store. The market was attractive, large, well stocked and mobbed.

There is an old saying that there are more nickels than quarters. I suppose that it should be no surprise that in a city populated by a large percentage of low income people, a well run store geared for that demographic can prosper. What's interesting is that while the taxpayer ponied up a $Billion dollars, so far, for the NIZ, the thriving Supremo costs us nothing. While the Morning Call writes one promotion after another for Reilly's portfolio, there is nothing said about the real success story in Allentown.

Let me provide some history.  Once upon a time,  that was the busiest block on 7th Street. The building was built as a Sears and Roebucks in the early 1950's, using a plan duplicated in other cities. The store did well competing with the three local department stores, and was first to go suburban.

Talking of history, some may notice a new item on this blog's sidebar. It's a picture of a Mack Truck Magazine cover, which was printed each month. I have titled the new insertion, LOCAL HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE.  Hopefully, the local political shenanigans will slow down, so I can devote more posts to our rich history.

stock photo from Supremo website

above reprinted from December 29, 2015

UPDATE December 2017: Reilly's attempt at upscale has thus failed. Both the Moravian Bookstore and an upscale women's shop(s) have closed. This blogger continues to doubts the occupancy rates for Strata,  published by Reilly and his paper.

Dec 12, 2017

Sex and The Strata Tenant

Students of this blog know that I have a hard time taking City Center Realty and their press agent, The Morning Call, as gospel when it comes to reporting the occupancy rate of the loft apartments. Somehow, I think that the unique benefits of the NIZ incentivize Reilly to keep building, and worry about finding tenants later. A recent article said that retail will follow after a critical mass of tenants is reached. In other markets, residential usually followed trendy retail. At any rate, the crime and violence will not help attract the elusive demographic which they seek.

The elusive Strata tenants sought are singles with white collar jobs, in or near Allentown. The Allentown school system is a very hard sell to any young family with children. Let us hope that our Strata singles do not hook up with each other too soon.

Dec 11, 2017

Israel Bashing, A Morning Call Tradition

Pray for France, but also pray for Israel, where it's Paris everyday

There's a long tradition of Israel bashing at Letters To The Editor, in The Morning Call. Over the years the writers change, but the tradition continues. Currently, most of the letters are written by Vincent Stravino, of Bethlehem. Let me share a letter exchange between myself and the current editor at the Call.

To the editor, Suffice to say that Bethlehem resident Vincent Stravino is no friend of Israel, his letters always portray that country in the most unflattering of terms. However, his letter which appeared on November 11, was something that would normally only be seen in the Arab press. Despite numerous Israeli civilians being stabbed, Stravino describes Israel response as Nazi-like. He paints Netanyahu and Israel as demanding, pretending and undeserving. Stravino letters are often signed at the end associating him with some organization that sounds sincere about peace, but in reality, are anti-Israel. After years of his letters, I know that Mr. Stravino doesn't have much use for Israel, but why does the Morning Call keep giving him space for repeating the same point of view, over and over?  Michael Molovinsky

Michael, Your letter essentially attacks Stravino and doesn't offer any counterpoints to what he said. Thus we will not publish it.
Editor, Letters Page 

I had the same exchange with the editor concerning previous letters from Mr. Stravino on Israel. Although, it is indeed normal Morning Call policy that letters should address the subject matter, and not the author, Stravino letters aren't normal, or about facts.  Instead, they intentionally invoke negative emotions about Israel and it's people,  through adjectives and stereotypes. When the paper prints the repetitive letters of someone motivated by hate, but limits replies to scant factoids,  they are inadvertently condoning that hate. Sometimes, motives do matter.

ADDENDUM: To me, the points brought up by the letter writer are just a pretense or excuse to bash Israel.  I've been reading such letters long before Netanyahu was prime minister.  I've been reading such letters before Israel gained control of the West Bank in 1967, or the Gaza Strip.  Putting aside anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel has existed since modern Israel was created in 1948, and so have letters to the Morning Call reflecting it.  For that reason, I declined to offer counterpoints to what is just the latest letter, but chose instead to address the larger issue.

reprinted from November of 2015

Dec 8, 2017

A Personal Memoir

I'm not sure memoir is a good title, rather than facts and records, I have hazy recollections. Assuming my memory will not improve at this stage of the game, let me put to print that which I can still recall. In about 1958 my father built Flaggs Drive-In. McDonalds had opened on Lehigh Street, and pretty much proved that people were willing to sit in their cars and eat fast food at bargain prices. For my father, who was in the meat business, this seemed a natural. As a rehearsal he rented space at the Allentown Fair for a food stand, and learned you cannot sell hotdogs near Yocco's. He purchased some land across from a corn field on Hamilton Blvd. and built the fast food stand. In addition to hamburgers, he decided to sell fried chicken. The chicken was cooked in a high pressure fryer called a broaster, which looked somewhat like the Russian satellite Sputnik. The stand did alright, but the business was not to my father's liking, seems he didn't have the personality to smile at the customers. He sold the business several years later to a family which enlarged and enclosed the walk up window. Subsequent owners further enlarged the location several times. The corn field later turned into a Water Park, and you know Flaggs as Ice Cream World.

I'm grateful to a kind reader who sent me this picture of Flaggs

reprinted from August of 2014

ADDENDUM: Allentown and its environs have changed considerably in the last 60 years. While Yocco's is still a very viable business in the suburbs, the center city demographic changes no longer supported selling hot dogs at 625 Liberty Street. After 85 years, that store closed in the summer of 2016.  Flaggs (Ice Cream World), rather than being outside of town, is now on the way to Hamilton Crossings.

Dec 7, 2017

Watchmen For Jerusalem

Isaiah 62:6-7
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest,  and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.
There is no shortage to the international sentiment always aligned against Israel. Yesterday we were told that Trump's intention to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could disrupt the peace process, and incite a violent pushback from the Arab world. As for the peace process, understand that Hamas controlled Gaza still calls for Israel's destruction. Understand that the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank financially rewards the families of their martyrs, when they kill Israelis. Violence in, and from the Arab world is a fact of everyday life, not tied to the peace process or our embassy's location.

Trump said in his statement on Jerusalem that he was acknowledging a reality. Another reality is that for 70 years Israel has been only tolerated, but never really accepted on the world stage. It survives in this harsh climate only because of courage.

Dec 6, 2017

Allentown's Growth Industry

Yesterday I went to the Social Security Office, across from the prison, to discuss my retirement options. I was given number 199. In addition to retirement, Social Security also dispenses money for disability. I would say from the gray hair, there were about three of us contemplating retirement, all the others were there for disability. A few middle age men were carrying their fake canes. The canes aren't fake, it's the disabilities. I saw one such gentleman walk in from the parking lot, clearly the cane bore no weight, and was merely a prop. Most of the people waiting were quite young, in their twenties. Disability has been expanded to include mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, additive personality and anger management. I will say many of them did look angry to me. It was hard finding a parking space. Business also looked good at the prison. If Johnny Manana's had gotten these crowds....

reprinted since 2008 using various titles

Dec 5, 2017

One Bedroom Apartment For Rent In Allentown

Someone commented on Friday, The post is about the decline of Allentown and complaints that the poor (and public housing) have basically ruined it...Sadly, this website's commentary often encapsulates the ignorance.... that has marked the worst of Allentown for decades, long before Mack left. While that reader is very politically correct, he is also very mistaken.

I ran an ad in The Morning Call seven days a week, for 35 years. While the ad stayed the same, the people responding to it changed drastically. Up until about 1995, virtually everybody calling already lived and worked in the valley.

When a prospective tenant called,  my first question was always inquiring as to where they worked?  Starting in the mid 1990's, more and more callers replied that they didn't work, but received disability. For most of these people,  that answer didn't reflect the economy, but was a lifestyle choice made years earlier. The transformation of Allentown was very real, and not a figment of a biased mind. Those looking to really find solutions to current problems in Allentown must not be so quick to assume prejudice by those who speak plainly about the issues.  The total population of Allentown hasn't changed significantly in 90 years,  but the crime rate, especially homicides, has skyrocketed.   It's too easy in our society to dismiss these problems by labeling such discussions as biased.  While such labeling generally curtails any dialogue,  the quality of life keeps declining.

Recently, when I referred to a person's endless praise of the NIZ as cheerleading,  he replied that the term was sexist and mysogynistic.  He was attempting to intimidate me with a socially unacceptable tag.  Likewise, there are those who will desire to tag and dismiss these observations as targeting one ethnicity or another. i reject the notion that negative changes in allentown's quality of life cannot be discussed, because some people might think that they are being associated with one group or another. Everybody here, regardless of where they came from, is a share holder in wanting a better city.

Dec 4, 2017

The Late Chronicle

Starting in early 2018, The Morning Call will be printed in Jersey City, N.J.. Although publisher Robert York states that plans are being made to assure quality of delivery, he cannot change the physics of the 90 minutes it takes to get the paper from A to B. In order to maintain their morning distribution schedule, the deadline for reporters will have to be 90 minutes earlier, or about 8:30. This change will preclude hardcopy subscribers from reading about last night's council meetings, and other evening activities. Most of the suburban meetings are covered by stringers, if at all, and they normally don't publish until a day later anyway. While the digital paper will be able to maintain its current schedule, there will be far greater time lag between it and the hard copy version,  in regard to local news.

As a disclosure, this blog is now produced from Panama City, Panama.

file photo from The Morning Call

ADDENDUM: I received the following message from The Morning Call;

 #1) While it is 90 minutes to Allentown from Jersey City, it’s a fair bit shorter to our distribution centers in Phillipsburg, Bethlehem and others supporting eastern region of our coverage area. It makes no sense for us to bring the morning papers to Allentown and then traverse the same route back to those locations so we will be transporting directly. Distribution of the morning paper is not as simple as adding 90 minutes to the equation. DC drop off times and a number of other factors including the size of routes are being rebuilt to ensure delivery next year is the same as today. #3) On several days of the week, the paper currently has one of the latest close times (when the paper goes to press) of any on the east coast. Next year once these changes take place, late council meetings, high school sports including football and basketball scores and stories will still be in the next morning’s paper. We may even sneak in a score from a Saturday night Penn State game – something we can’t do now.

Dec 1, 2017

They Shoot Landlords, Don't They?

When I ran as a long-shot independent for mayor in 2005, against Ed Pawlowski and Bill Heydt,  the first thing I did was take The  Morning Call reporter on a tour of the properties that I managed.  As an intercity landlord, operating apartments between 4th and 12th, Walnut and Tilghman Streets,  I knew that  downtown apartments could  become problematic for Allentown.  After the WW2,  it became fashionable to live in a twin or small ranch, and Allentown's row houses began being divided into apartments.  Those apartments were mostly occupied by singles or childless couples, and helped keep downtown and Hamilton Street vital, long past many of it's sister cities.  In the 1960's, despite the thousands of converted apartments,  center city was clean, and Allentown was the All American City.  Both the tenants and landlords were hard working and conscientious.  As the urban poor from New York and New Jersey discovered the clean streets of Allentown, and it's moderately priced apartments,  a steady influx of new residents arrived daily.  These changes were not encouraged by the landlords.  Nobody ever purchased a building hoping to replace their conscientious middle class occupants, with a poorer, more problematic tenant base.  Various social agencies staked many of these newcomers to the first month rent and security deposits.  Although politically incorrect, I said at the time that Allentown was creating a poverty magnet.  My phrase and analysis back then is now recognized as an unintended consequence of such programs.  During Heydt's administration, Allentown passed a Rental Inspection Law.  Some viewed  this as the solution to the rental problem, I didn't fully agree;  You cannot legislate pride of ownership. Bad operators could, and easily did, cross the T's and dot the i's.  Pawlowski's solution has been to tag buildings as unfit for habitation, so many,  that the process itself has created blight.  Halls of Shame, either by the city or private groups, only stigmatize both the property and owner, but don't produce a solution.  The programs in place, if applied with more flexibility, can work.  The school district is starting to show concern about the consequences of more apartments and students.  Recent zoning changes allowing the conversion of commercial space by right, rather than by variance, will be an additional challenge.  At the end of the day,  all landlords want to see their investment appreciate.  The city must learn to work with that basic incentive as a vehicle for change.

UPDATE:  The post above is reprinted from my archives.  I believe that my background enabled me to write a  concise, accurate synopsis of Allentown's downtown housing situation. Today (June 2015), we learn that Reilly's City Center and other employers and stakeholders in the NIZ are offering $10,000 incentives for their employees to buy houses in center city. I believe that if the plan is properly administered, it can be a useful tool for Allentown.

reprinted from June of 2015

Nov 30, 2017

A Baby Boomer Allentown

molovinsky on allentown is meant to intersect local politics and history. I grew up during a very prosperous era in Allentown's history. The post war (WW2) factories couldn't produce enough goods, despite some having three shifts. Local government was small, concerned mostly with infrastructure and public safety.  There was little concern with affordable housing and other social programs. Then, as now, there were always poor people. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Allentown for the opening of Hanover Acres, the public housing above the east side of the Lehigh River. For many residents of that project and Cumberland Gardens, the public housing was a stepping stone, not a lifestyle.

Hamilton Street was a thriving shopping district.  No subsidies needed there.  Those successful merchants handled their own parking system, no Parking Authority needed.  There might have been some nepotism and cronyism in city hall, but no need for FBI investigations.  Information and news came from your television screen and newspapers, but without agendas and misdirection.

A reader asked me why I made commenting more difficult.  Question.......isn't one of the purposes of your blog to foster discussion of the matters you raise? Purposely seeking to curb comment responses and possibly readership, seems counterintuitive to me.  Topics are not chosen in regard to expanding readership, nor do I count comments as a gauge of success. This blog is not monetized, directly or indirectly. I address those topics which are either under-reported, or misrepresented by the local main stream media. Consequently, I want the comments to be as relevant and responsible as possible.

When Walter Cronkite gave the news in the early 1960's,  he signed out each program by saying, "And that's the way it is."  

reprinted from July of 2016

Nov 29, 2017

Only The Best For Public Housing

For an Allentown historian with an interest in photography, the photo above is as good as it gets; Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Allentown's new public housing project in 1942, Hanover Acres. I snatched the photo off The Morning Call this morning; Paul Carpenter has a column where he brooded about public housing recipients complaining that they can't smoke, while living on our dime. I'll do him one better. They're now griping about it in new housing, Overlook Park. Hanover Acres and the newer project, Riverview Terrace, were both torn down several years ago to construct new townhouses. It's supposedly a mixed income project, with homes both for sale, and Section 8 rentals.
Over the years Hanover Acres became a "terrible" place to live, a crime-ridden eyesore. Overlook Park, the $88 million development that's sprung up in its place, however, is "beautiful." Daniel R. Farrell, executive director of the Allentown Housing Authority, described turning Hanover Acres into Overlook Park as "an amazing transformation."The development features 269 rental apartments and room for 53 single-family homes.
It was built by Pennrose Properties, which specializes in politically correct and politically connected housing for profit. They have done well in Allentown with Mayor Ed. Not long before Hanover and Riverview were demolished, they were completely remodeled, with high end kitchen cabinets and counters. Shown below is yours truly, in Little Lehigh Manor, built in 1944. Those brick houses of the same vintage are still new enough for home buyers today. Most of Allentown's existing row houses were built between 1895 and 1930. If Carpenter is upset about smoking, he should drive over to Overlook Park and see what they're smoking in.

reprinted from July of 2012

Nov 28, 2017

News From Mars In Allentown

Sometimes when I read The Morning Call, it's like I'm getting news from Mars. In an article about Small Business Day, the paper featured a store downtown that pays no rent, and sells donated women's fashion to lower income women, who are dressing for a job interview. I commend the store, its landlord and the concept, but it certainly says something unsaid about the state of small retail in center city. I suppose for the article's purpose, the reuse boutique is more prestigious than the pawn shops.

An article in today's paper refers to a developer downtown who received permission from the zoning board to build apartments on the former Croc Rock site. In the real world here on earth,  there is nothing new about J.B. Reilly being given permission from Allentown.  Real news would have been if he wasn't given the green light.  Furthermore, he isn't a developer, but The Developer.

Yesterday on social media, a rabid cheerleader for the NIZ referred to me as an 85 year old, who should fade away with my outdated incorrect assertions, and extremly underwhelming blog. As long as the news from Mars has to be translated into Earth language, this blog will continue.

Nov 27, 2017

Christmas Lights And Park Neglect

As people enter Lehigh Parkway to enjoy the annual Christmas Light Display, they drive past the top of the Double Stairwell, built by the WPA in 1935. It was designed as the signature structure in the park. While the top landing is degraded, the subsequent landings down the double stairs get much worse. One landing is in danger of collapsing, undermining the steps below it. I have been reporting the worsening conditions to the Park Department for three years. While nothing has been done to rehab this irreplaceable structure,  the department laid cement pads for the disc golf course this past summer. They are now planning to build a skate park, but still no repairs are planned on the WPA icons of the Parkway and elsewhere.

The Trexler Trust is a significant contributor to the park budget.  Furthermore,  the park budget is approved every year by City Council.  Both these groups fail to use their influence in regard to the park department's misplaced priorities.  Never the less,  I will continue through this blog to advocate for the WPA structures, and other traditional elements of our park system.

Nov 24, 2017

Allentown Archeology

When it comes to the history of industrial Allentown, the railroad buffs are among the current experts. Our heavy manufacturing base moved it's materials on the tracks of several railroads. The Front Street area was crisscrossed with tracks and sidings. The West End Branch ran along Sumner Avenue, crossed Tilghman Street, looped around 17th Street and ended near 12th and Liberty. The Barber Quarry Branch ran along the Little Lehigh until it then followed Cedar Creek. It crossed Hamilton Street near the current Hamilton Family Restaurant and ended at what is now the Park Department Building. The rail buffs are current day archeologists, looking for remnants of those glory days. Shown above is a portion of the Barber Quarry pier and track. This is at the bottom of Lehigh Street hill, near the former bank call center, near the former Acorn Hotel, in a former city still called Allentown.
photo courtesy of Mike Huber, Coplay
related posts
The Train of Lehigh

The World of Mirth
Lehigh Valley Railroad Piers
Depot at Overlook Park

reprinted from April 2013

ADDENDUM: This remnant of the previous railroad bridge is part of the Wire Mill Bridge over the Little Lehigh, which will soon be closed for repairs.

Nov 23, 2017

Susan Wild Cutting Ties With Pawlowski

Susan Wild announced yesterday that she is resigning as Allentown City Solicitor to devote full time to her run for the 15th Congressional District. “I do not believe the demands of running a congressional campaign allow me to spend the time that is necessary to be an effective city solicitor,” Wild wrote. “I strongly feel that it is unfair to the taxpayers of Allentown for me to collect a salary and benefits for a job to which I will not be able to devote my full attention.” 

While Ms. Wild doesn't believe that she can effectively run for congress and perform as solicitor at the same time, apparently Ed Pawlowski thinks that he can be a full time mayor and a federal defendant at the same time. At any rate,  he will be pulling down his mayoral salary as he sits in court day after day.

The other day Michael Adams,  the former occupant of the Log and Stone House shown above, mentioned Ms. Wild in regard to his eviction from the house.  Many people have been upset about his departure,  especially since Pawlowski had the gardens ripped out that Mr. Adams had cultivated for a decade.  Ms. Wild came on Adams' Facebook page and commented that she had nothing to do with his ouster by the city.  I can believe that she wanted to be disassociated from that action,  and furthermore, I also believe that she wants to be disassociated from Pawlowski.

Lehigh Parkway Vendetta,  the original October post on Adams' eviction

Nov 22, 2017

Junkyard Train

Today, once again we ride a freight train of Allentown's great industrial past. In the early 1970's, the Redevelopment Authority tore down the neighborhood on either side of the Lehigh Street hill. At that time they had persuaded Conrail to move the the Barber's Quarry Branch line exclusively to the southern side of the Little Lehigh. The branch had crossed over and back to service the great Wire Mill. After crossing Lehigh Street, the train would proceed along the creek passing under the 8th Street Bridge. At the 10th Street crossing it would service another great industrial giant, Traylor Engineering.
In 2009 President Obama visited a successor, Allentown Manufacturing, which has since closed. The line would continue along the creek until it turned north along Cedar Creek to Union Terrace. After crossing Hamilton Street by the current Hamilton Family Diner, it would end at the current park department building. Nothing remains of the line, the tracks were removed. The Allentown Economic Development Corporation recently received a grant to rebuild the line to 10th Street, even though the plant Obama visited has closed. The neighboring former Mack Plant now houses a go cart track. How the money will be squandered remains to be seen. The top photograph was taken by local train historian Mark Rabenold in 1989. It shows the later relocated section of the track that was just east of the Lehigh Street crossing.

UPDATE: The County Commissioners recently denied a request by AEDC to grant KOZ status to the closed Metal Manufacturing building. Although the company never cited lack of rail service or property taxes as the reason for closing, the rail grant is still on the table. $Millions of $Dollars would be needed to lay bed and track from 3th and Union to S. 10th Street, to service an empty building; Truly, The Track To Nothing.

reprinted from March of 2016