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Old 07-09-2007, 05:16 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,629 posts, read 71,965,900 times
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Good evening, everyone! It was a SCORCHER today, which is why I must apologize in advance for cutting corners (literally) while walking around Downtown Bethlehem and possibly missing a lot of key components of "The Christmas City" or "The Moravian City." However, I was so mesmerized and admittedly blown away by the sheer beauty of this community, that I promise I'll be back in the future for a second tour to tie up any loose ends.

The morning started out with a relaxing drive down I-476 to the Lehigh Valley exit, where I was dumped onto the gut-wrenching, teeth-gnashing Route 22, which is a narrow, high-speed freeway throughout the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA where onramps have little or no merge distance for incoming cars, and offramps are quite frequent. I had to slam on my brakes repeatedly as people merging onto the freeway would force their way into traffic or because the motorist in front of me suddenly came to a crawl to be a good samaritan of sorts (a dangerous one at that) and wave the waiting car into the right lane. All the while I was thinking to myself "These tractor-trailers are all cruising along at 70 miles-per-hour. What's going to happen if the one behind ME can't stop in time?!" (If I survived the impact it would be a LAWSUIT for sure, but I digress). I personally thought the 81 and 309 freeways through my own MSA were hellish, but they were child's play compared to the 22 freeway. As the Lehigh Valley continues to explode in growth (as evidenced by the ugly sprawl along the freeway), I find it difficult to believe that there are no immediate solutions on what to do in order to improve safety on that corridor!

Anyhow, I took the exit for Route 378 south, which was much more relaxing. I passed the massive and attractive Lehigh Valley Medical Center, which I know has an excellent burn unit and trauma care center. I then passed a lone skyscraper along the left side of the 378, which I'm still unable to identify. I'm hoping a Lehigh Valley local on this forum will tell me first of all what is housed in that skyscraper and second of all why such a seemingly SUBURBAN location was chosen for it as opposed to, per se, Downtown Allentown? If I can recall correctly, my father had a job interview at that place several years back, and he's in the I/T field, so I'm assuming it has to house some sort of major white-collar, high-tech firm (Agere Systems perhaps?)

Before I knew it I had been dumped off into Downtown Bethlehem, and I nearly had an ORGASM to see just how many thriving brick buildings there were in the downtown area, along with beautiful Victorian-era streetlights, brick crosswalks, flower planters, rubbish bins, etc. I parked my car in a conveniently-located downtown garage in a convenient to remember spot
(3-D). I first headed up to the roof of the garage to snap some images of the surrounding cityscape from a higher elevation than to which I am accustomed (I wish I had done the same in my Williamsport Photo Tour, but hindsight is 20/20).

I sauntered into town and promptly turned left onto Broad Street and over a bridge into the West Side of Bethlehem, which I took quite a liking too. There were a number of cute mom-and-pop operations and churches along the main drag with some handsome rowhomes fanning out from West Broad Street onto the numbered side streets, which increased in value as you headed further away from downtown. It reminded me quite a bit of the neighborhood immediately to the west of Downtown Binghamton, which I photographed in another photo tour, except this part of town seemed to be much more well-kept that that city's neighborhood did. I also saw tremendous racial and cultural diversity in this town in terms of Hispanics, and I even heard Spanish being spoken quite a bit by passers-by. Coming from an upper-middle-class white "cracker" town like Scranton, this was fascinating and exciting for me; I felt like I was actually in a TRUE melting pot of a city! I also saw some newspaper racks for Latin-American newspapers, which likewise piqued my interest. Upon further research, less than 82% of the city was white, non-Hispanic as of the 2000 census, and I suspect that has even edged nearer to the 70% or so mark now in 2007.

After sauntering around in the west side of town, I headed back to the historic downtown area, where I kept much of my focus on Broad Street, Main Street, Church Street, and the areas surrounding the Moravian structures and the city hall. Speaking of the city hall, I've never quite seen one so well-manicured and inviting. The building itself was lame architecturally---it looked like a late-20th Century construction, however it was on a "campus" of sorts with plazas and gardens that linked it to the Bethlehem Public Library and the main police station. It was a block away from here that I actually (NO LIE!) heard a young girl say to her mother "Mommy, would you take me to the sculpture garden?" What a literate city! Here in Pittston, the kids would be saying "Mommy, could you buy me some meth?" There was one towering monument in particular that overlooked the Fahy Bridge that links the North and South Sides of Bethlehem.

From here I headed to the South Side, where I took regrettably few pictures due to feeling light-headed from the heat. I popped into a Rite-Aid store along East Third Street, where I promptly purchased (and gulped down) a Vitamin Water, which wasn't quite as refreshing as I had hoped. There was also a rumbly in my tumbly for some grub, so I simply walked west along East Third Street to the hulking remains of the massive Bethlehem Steel complex (soon-to-be Sands BethWorks Casino and mixed-use project), snapping pictures along the way, and then headed back over the Fahy Bridge to practically run into the Bethlehem BrewWorks for a tasty lunch, which consisted of several glasses of water and a chicken Caesar wrap with delicious beer-battered French fries that was reasonably-priced at $7.60. I still left $15 to perk my concerned-looking waitress up a bit (She was probably thinking to herself "Awww...poor loser eating alone!")

From here I headed back to the parking garage, where I noticed yet ANOTHER Mini-Cooper and a few more Priuses (trendy cars were commonplace throughout town, giving it a favorable Liberal vibe, in my opinion, as opposed to the Buick and rusty pick-up truck crusty Conservative old-fart vibe I get around here). I was also amazed to see so many late-model vehicles in town, especially higher-end ones, indicating that the economy in the Lehigh Valley is QUITE rosy.

I enjoyed my visit to Bethlehem, a city of 72,000 that is the eighth-largest one in the Commonwealth (as of 2000), and I vow to be back again! In July 2006, Money Magazine included Bethlehem in its "Best Place to Live" awards, and I can certainly see why.

Please enjoy the 140 images I have to present to you on this warm Monday evening, and let me know what else in the Lehigh Valley you'd like me to photograph in upcoming tours.
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Old 07-09-2007, 06:00 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,629 posts, read 71,965,900 times
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Thumbs up Historic Bethlehem

While driving south along Route 376 en route to the city, I first passed Lehigh Valley Medical Center, and then this mysterious lone skyscraper shortly thereafter. As I had inquired before, what is housed here?

Looking northwest from the roof of the parking garage.

Looking northeast from the roof of the parking garage. Once again I find that mysterious skyscraper all alone....hmmmm...

Looking southwest with the historic Hotel Bethlehem on the right and the blue-ish cupela of the Moravian Church just left of center.

Looking due west from the roof of the parking garage, with one of Main Street's more ornate buildings in the center. You can see a church and some residential areas of West Bethlehem in the background.

Looking due east of the roof of the garage towards the Bank of America building on the right.

The facade of the parking garage from street level (Walnut Street) shows off a handsome mural welcoming the town's many tourists.

An image I snapped while crossing the Broad Street Bridge which links downtown to the community's west side. Monacacy Creek is the body of water shown here, which flows through a rather attractive recreational area. This image is looking towards South Bethlehem.

Some images from along West Broad Street, the main drag through West Bethlehem.

Looking north on a side street off of West Broad Street. Here you will find rowhomes, and that mysterious skyscraper once again.

Some homes from along First Avenue in the West Side.

A home under renovation along Prospect Avenue.

Second Avenue in West Bethlehem.

From here I turned right back onto Broad Street, crossed the bridge again, and headed back to Downtown Bethlehem.

Broad Street

Main Street. Some notable highlights here include the historic Hotel Bethlehem, sidewalks cafes, the Moravian Bookstore, the Main Street Shops, and the Bethlehem Brew Works. There was also a very irritating road construction project going on here for what looked to be a utility line, and jackhammers were blaring.

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Old 07-09-2007, 06:48 PM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
31,629 posts, read 71,965,900 times
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Smile More of Bethlehem

The area immediately surrounding the ornate Moravian Church.

Some residential scenes from along Church Street, including the Moravian Musuem.

A cute alleyway that runs between Church and Market Streets.

Some homes along New Street.

Bethlehem Club, New Street.

Bethlehem Inn Bed & Breakfast, New Street.

Looking down New Street towards the City Hall complex.

Some images from the old Moravian Cemetery, where some tombstones denote the town's founding fathers who were born in the 1600s! Talk about history!

Market Street.

Some scenes from along Church Street.

Some final residential scenes from the North Side.

As I alluded to earlier, some of the city's government buildings are located on an attractive "campus" of sorts at the intersection of Church & New Streets, overlooking the South Side of town from its hilltop location.

City Hall, Police Department

Bethlehem Area Public Library

A garden sponsored by MusikFest, which is an annual major draw to the city.

A neat looking fountain/birdbath in the garden.

Japanese Garden on the library grounds.

The view of Church Street from this "campus."

The view of the Fahy Bridge and South Side in the distance from the government campus.

One final view of Church Street before I headed down Sakon Place, a windy road that heads towards the Fahy Bridge.

The view of the bottom of Sakon Place.

A nice memorial near the Fahy Bridge.

Crossing the Fahy Bridge, bound for South Bethlehem.

Looking east from the bridge, the hulking Bethlehem Steel Complex can be seen dominating the community along the banks of the Lehigh River.

Looking west from this bridge towards the Route 378 Bridge.

The view of SouthSide.

This beautiful muraled portal welcomes pedestrians into the Southern part of town.

Some scenes from along East Third Street, an up-and-coming thoroughfare in the city that now houses many art galleries, gift shops, and chic boutiques.

The National Museum of Industrial History, East Third Street.

A nice war memorial along East Third Street.

The view south along a random side street with a church in the distance.

The massive former Bethlehem Steel Mill, which is under renovation to house a major mixed-use project that is expected to totally transform SouthSide. The $879,000,000 project will eventually feature 1,200 loft apartments, a 3,000-slot machine casino, a 300-room hotel, movie theater, dozens of independent retailers and restaurants, and a parking garage for 6,000 vehicles. It is slated to open July 2008, even though that is now one year away, and the entire site still looks untouched. Future plans call for a performing arts center and concert hall as well. Property values surrounding this project could skyrocket.

Mule? Marry Me!!!

My final image was of the Banana Factory, an old industrial building converted into art studio space that is open to the public on First Fridays. I wanted to get a better shot of the place, but as I said, by this time I was famished, feeling ill, and just needed to book it to the brewpub to eat!

In the spirit of the Banana Factory, this concludes my tour of Historic Bethlehem:

Last edited by SteelCityRising; 07-09-2007 at 06:50 PM.. Reason: Replaced Duplicate Pic
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:43 PM
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Great pictures! The only things I think you missed were the two colleges - Moravian and Lehigh. You must have been all around the Moravian College buildings in North Bethlehem. Lehigh is up the hill in South Bethlehem. Both have very nice campuses. Really a good job on the pictures!

The lone skyscraper is locally known as the big black box. I think it was owned by Bethlehem Steele and then leased or sold to Agere. I think it recently changed hands again because a friend that worked there was telling me about how they were closing down different departments anticpating a move.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:51 PM
Location: Lake Country, Wisconsin
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Great pictures. Bethlehem is a beautiful ,little town. I love the star they light up at night on top of one of the hills. I went to Lehigh for grad school . You should go back to visit in the fall. It is really beautiful then.
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:25 PM
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SWB, your pic tour was great. The tall building is Martin Tower, former home to Bethlehem Steel HQ.
I see you made it to market\new street, I walk by those homes and buildings very often when in Bethlehem.
I was hoping to see some of the buildings at the alma mater make it in, but alas, maybe next time...Cominius Hall is worth a picture, ditto for the entrance to the basketball gym...Good ol' Moco....
Once renovations are done, Liberty High might be worth a photo, Banko Stadium is another great site.
Otherwise, great tour.
FYI the steel has been touched. most of it has been torn down. Who ever thought that the steel would go cold on the southside? But, all thats left are memories, and while I'd love to have seen it reclaiming industrial glory(that goes for the entire state, heck, the entire northeast) it was a pipe dream, and I'm just happy to see some development on the site, but everytime I go by it just won't be the same, the steel meant a lot, and there was just a certain attitude that was different when it was around.
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Old 07-10-2007, 01:01 AM
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Why are all the streets so empty? What time of the day were these pixs taken?
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Old 07-10-2007, 06:25 AM
Location: Marshall-Shadeland, Pittsburgh, PA
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Originally Posted by kmom View Post
Why are all the streets so empty? What time of the day were these pixs taken?
I was snapping these photos from late-morning through early-afternoon on a Monday. There were actually quite a few people wandering around, but I try to snap photos when people are not nearby to avoid offending anyone or having to worry about them thinking I'm taking photos of them exclusively as opposed to the structures behind them. Personally, I wouldn't care if some young, eager photographer accidentally included me in one of his photos, but I know there are a lot of others who are more "camera-shy," so I tried to avoid them out of respect.

Trust me, Bethlehem is far from dead. My family and I visited my uncle who lives in nearby Fountain Hill, just before Christmas two years ago, and while in the Lehigh Valley we truly got the full "Christmas City, USA" experience. That might be the time of year when I decide to return for my second Bethlehem tour.
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Old 07-10-2007, 08:29 AM
Location: Selinsgrove, PA
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Here's a quick quiz. If you're a local, how do you pronounce "Bethlehem"? Answer will be appear below.

Paul, thanks again for another great photo tour. You're a great guy, to go so far out of your way to take photos of such wonderful Pennsylvania communities.

Since my family roots are in Jim Thorpe and my maternal grandfather retired from the railroad yards at Bethlehem Steel, this city was a part of my life when I was little. We actually lived there for a short time when I was very young. I vaguely remember a red brick building with a green door. I also remember that there was a place along a stream where we'd go to feed the ducks and I'd almost always fall down and cut my lip. My parents used to leave me at my grandparents' house on the day after Thanksgiving and then go Christmas shopping at a place that's no longer there. I think it was "Two Guys" or something like that. It's been a long time since I was to Bethlehem.

It struck me that many of the pictures reminded me of Lewisburg. It must be the age of the buildings and the "Victorian" influence.

Now, for the answer to the question: If you're a local, you pronounce it as "Beth-lum" (not Beth-la-hem as in the Bible).
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:53 AM
Location: Philaburbia
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where I was dumped onto the gut-wrenching, teeth-gnashing Route 22

Yee-ha! Fun, isn’t it? The problem with Pennsylvania’s freeways (as I see it, LOL) is that they’re all ancient and everyone thinks they're "good enough" (as they try to navigate a 45-degree turn from a 50-foot deceleration lane). Argh. But I digress.
Bethlehem BrewWorks

Yum. Definitely a fun town to toodle around in, isn’t it? A friend of mine lives near downtown, and we do lots of walking when I'm there.
Thanks for the pix! Hope you didn't get heat stroke ...
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