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Allentown, Pennsylvania

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Country  United States
Population  118,577 (2013)
Unemployment rate  6.1% (Dec 2014)
Area  18.0 sq mi
Founded  William Allen
Mayor  Ed Pawlowski (D)
Points of interest  Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Coca-Cola Park, America On Wheels, Allentown Art Museum, Museum of Indian Culture
Colleges and Universities  Muhlenberg College, Cedar Crest College, Metro Beauty Academy, Welder Training and Testing Institute, Lincoln Technical Institute

Allentown (Pennsylvania Dutch: Allenschteddel) is a city located in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is Pennsylvanias third most populous city, after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the 224th largest city in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 118,032 and is currently the fastest growing city in Pennsylvania. It is the largest city in the metropolitan area known as the Lehigh Valley, which had a population of 821,623 residents as of 2010. It constitutes a portion of the New York City Metropolitan Area and is the county seat of Lehigh County. In 2012, the city celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding in 1762.

Contents

Map of Allentown, Pennsylvania

Located on the Lehigh River, Allentown is the largest of three adjacent cities that make up a region of eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey known as the Lehigh Valley. Allentown is 50 miles (80 km) north-northwest of Philadelphia, the fifth most populous city in the United States, 90 miles (140 km) east-northeast of Harrisburg, the state capital, and 90 miles (140 km) west of New York City, the nations largest city.

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History

Allentown, Pennsylvania in the past, History of Allentown, Pennsylvania

In the early 1700s, the land now occupied by the City of Allentown and Lehigh County was a wilderness of scrub oak where neighboring tribes of Indians fished for trout and hunted for deer, grouse, and other game. In 1736, a large area to the north of Philadelphia, embracing the present site of Allentown and what is now Lehigh County, was deeded by 23 chiefs of the five great Indian nations to John, Thomas, and Richard Penn, sons of William Penn. The price for this tract included shoes and buckles, hats, shirts, knives, scissors, combs, needles, looking glasses, rum, and pipes.

The land that was to become Allentown was part of a 5,000-acre (20 km2) plot Allen purchased on September 10, 1735 from his business partner Joseph Turner, who was assigned the warrant to the land by Thomas Penn, son of William Penn, on May 18, 1732.

The land was originally surveyed on November 23, 1736. A subsequent survey done in 1753 by David Schultz for a road from Easton to Reading, of which present-day Union and Jackson streets were links, shows the location of a log house owned by Allen, situated near the western bank of the Jordan Creek, which was believed to have been built around 1740. Used primarily as a hunting and fishing lodge, here Allen entertained prominent guests including his brother-in-law, James Hamilton, and colonial governor John Penn.

Geography

Allentown, Pennsylvania Beautiful Landscapes of Allentown, Pennsylvania

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (46.6 km2). 17.8 square miles (46.1 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km2) is water. Bodies of water include the Jordan Creek and its tributary, the Little Lehigh Creek, which join within the city limits and empty into the Lehigh River. Other bodies of water within the city limits include Lake Muhlenberg in Cedar Creek Parkway and a pond in Trexler Park.

Allentown, Pennsylvania Beautiful Landscapes of Allentown, Pennsylvania

The city sits within the Lehigh Valley, a geographic region bounded by Blue Mountain, a ridge of the Appalachian mountain range, which varies from 1,000 to 1,600 feet (490 m) in height about 17 miles (27 km) north of the city, and South Mountain, a ridge of 500 to 1,000 feet (300 m) in height that borders the southern edge of the city.

The city is the county seat of Lehigh County. The adjacent counties are Carbon County to the north; Northampton County to the northeast and east; Bucks County to the southeast; Montgomery County to the south; and Berks County and Schuylkill County to the west.

Economy

Allentowns economy has historically been manufacturing-based, but with a more recent turn to a more service oriented economy due to general rust belt decline in heavy industry. The city serves as the location of corporate headquarters for several large, global companies, including Air Products & Chemicals, PPL, and others. The largest employer in Allentown is Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, with more than 7,800 employees.

Culture

Allentown, Pennsylvania Culture of Allentown, Pennsylvania

The Allentown Symphony Orchestra performs at Allentown Symphony Hall, renamed Miller Symphony Hall, located on North Sixth Street in center city. The city also has a musical heritage of civilian concert bands, and is home to the Allentown Band, the oldest civilian concert band in the United States. The Allentown Band, Marine Band of Allentown, Municipal Band of Allentown and the Pioneer Band of Allentown all regularly perform at the bandshell in the citys West Park. Youth Education in the Arts, the sponsoring organization of The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, is headquartered in Allentown. The citys J. Birney Crum Stadium annually plays host to the Drum Corps International Eastern Classic, which brings together the top junior drum and bugle corps in the world for a two-day event.

Allentown, Pennsylvania Culture of Allentown, Pennsylvania

The city houses a collection of public sculptures, including the DaVinci Horse, located on 5th Street. This sculpture is one of three in the world.

The Allentown Art Museum, located on North Fifth Street in Center City, is home to a collection of more than 13,000 pieces of art, along with an associated library. The Baum School of Art, located in downtown Allentown at 5th and Linden Streets, offers credit and non-credit classes in painting, drawing, ceramics, fashion design, jewelry making and more.

Nineteenth Street Theater has an 80-plus year history of producing theater in the Lehigh Valley. Started by two Morning Call reporters in 1927 as "Civic Little Theater", the current day Nineteenth Street Theater relies on a paid professional staff, volunteer board of directors from the community, and volunteers from the region. Civic Theater stands on three pillars: theater, film and education. Civic is a professionally directed, managed and run theater that utilizes community actors in its live theater productions. Civic also operates the Lehigh Valley’s only full-time cinema exclusively showing art, independent and foreign films and a theater school that has been served the Valley’s youth for more than 50 years.

In popular culture

Allentowns reputation as a rugged blue collar city has led to many references to the city in popular culture:

  • Allentown is mentioned as the hometown of Noelle, a participant on the A & E reality series Sexy Beasts in 2015.
  • Allentown is mentioned in the 2011 movie The Hangover Part II when Ed Helms sings a modified cover of Billy Joels song "Allentown."
  • Allentown is mentioned in the song "Fed to Death" by indie rock band Say Anything. It is the opening song on their 2009 album Say Anything.
  • Allentown is mentioned in the 2008 movie The Wrestler as a location where Mickey Rourke (playing Randy "The Ram" Robinson) had wrestled leading up to his comeback.
  • Allentown is where the Free Armies and the U.S. military first meet in combat in the fictional comic series DMZ Comics, launched in 2005 by DC Comics.
  • On August 10, 2003, CNN broadcast Achieving the Perfect 10, a critical documentary about the Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center, located in Allentown.
  • The TV production company Medstar Television, which produced the series Medical Detectives from 1996 to 2000, and the series Forensic Files from 2000 on, is headquartered in Allentown. Locations throughout the city have been used as settings for dramatic reenactments of crimes profiled by the shows.
  • In Season 4, Episode 14 ("Memento Mori") of the X-Files, broadcast February 9, 1997, Mulder and Scully travel to Allentown to find women who might know how to cure Scullys cancer.
  • In Season 3, Episode 9 ("Nisei") of the X-Files, broadcast November 24, 1995, Agents Mulder and Scully travel to Allentown to track down the distributor of an alien autopsy tape, but they find him murdered.
  • The 1990 dark comedy film, I Love You to Death, directed by Lawrence Kasdan, is based on an attempted murder that happened in 1984 in Allentown.
  • Allentowns Dorney Park was a film location for John Waters Hairspray, released in 1988.
  • The city is the subject of the popular Billy Joel song, "Allentown", originally released on The Nylon Curtain album in 1982. Joels song uses Allentown as a metaphor for the resilience of working class Americans in distressed industrial cities during the recession of the early 1980s.
  • Allentown is the hometown of up and coming showgirl Peggy Sawyer in the long-running, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical 42nd Street, released in 1980, and its associated Academy Award-nominated movie. When Sawyer expresses her desire to leave Broadway to return to Allentown, the shows director and entire cast successfully dissuade her by singing the famed musical number "The Lullaby of Broadway."
  • Allentown is mentioned twice in the 1970 Frank Sinatra song "The Train," which appears as the first song on his album Watertown.
  • Allentown was the film location for much of James Neilsons film Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, released in 1969.
  • Allentown is mentioned in the ABC Family Show Pretty Little Liars
  • Hiding The Bell, a 1968 historical fiction novel by Ruth Nulton Moore, chronicles the events surrounding the hiding of the Liberty Bell in Allentown in 1777.
  • Allentown was the subject of the 1963 Irving Gordon song "Allentown Jail", which was subsequently recorded by several other artists, including The Kingston Trio, The Lettermen, The Seekers and Jo Stafford.
  • In the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie, character Rosie Alvarez is from Allentown. In the song "Spanish Rose," she sings: "Im just a Spanish Tamale according to Mae/ Right off the boat from the tropics, far, far away/ Which is kinda funny, since where I come from is Allentown, PA."
  • Allentown is mentioned in the 1957 book, On the Road, by Jack Kerouac.
  • Allentown was the home town of the fictional Detective Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) in the television program Barney Miller (1975–1982).
  • Cuisine

    Allentown, Pennsylvania Cuisine of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Popular Food of Allentown, Pennsylvania

    Vestiges of Allentowns Pennsylvania German heritage remain present in its cuisine, and foodstuffs such as scrapple, chow-chow, Lebanon bologna, cole slaw and apple butter are often found offered in local diners and the Allentown Farmers Market. Shoofly pie, birch beer, and funnel cakes are regularly found at local fairs. Several local churches make and sell fastnachts as a fundraiser for Fastnacht Day, the day before the start of Lent.

    Allentown, Pennsylvania Cuisine of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Popular Food of Allentown, Pennsylvania

    As the population of the city has increased, many national restaurant and fast food chains have established a presence in the city. More recently, growth of the citys ethnic populations has led to the opening of many family run restaurants specializing in ethnic cuisine. Ethnic food types represented include Chinese, Colombian, Dominican, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Lebanese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Thai and West Indian.

    Due in part to Allentowns proximity to Philadelphia, cheesesteaks are also popular. Yoccos Hot Dogs, a regionally well-known hot dog and cheesesteak establishment with six area locations, was founded in 1922 by Theodore Iacocca, uncle of Lee Iacocca. In addition, A-Treat, a regionally-popular brand of carbonated soft drinks, has been based in Allentown since 1918.

    Museums and cultural organizations

    Festivals

    Allentown, Pennsylvania Festival of Allentown, Pennsylvania

    Mayfair Festival of the Arts, an arts and crafts festival established in 1986, is held each May at Cedar Beach Park. The Great Allentown Fair runs annually, in early September, on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds, where it has been held since 1889. The first Allentown Fair was held in 1852, and between 1852 and 1899 it was held at the "Old Allentown Fairgrounds," which was located north of Liberty Street between 5th and 6th streets. The J. Birney Crum Stadium plays host to the Collegiate Marching Band Festival, held annually since 1995, as well as other marching band festivals and competitions.

    References

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