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Bethlehem Revisited

Bethlehem Revisited

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Bethlehem Revisited

Lunghezza:
176 pagine
1 ora
Pubblicato:
Oct 13, 2014
ISBN:
9781439647684
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Due in part to the Lehigh Canal and the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Bethlehem evolved from a tranquil town to a modern industrial city. Built in 1829, the Lehigh Canal passed by the center of Bethlehem. With it brought a steady stream of outsiders who shaped and changed the community. The Lehigh Valley Railroad was established in South Bethlehem in the 1850s, turning the city into a manufacturing center with such new industries as Lehigh Zinc and Bethlehem Steel as well as silk mills. Bethlehem Revisited captures a city in transition, at a time when its streets could barely accommodate the influx of horses, trolleys, automobiles, and pedestrians. Bursting at its seams with people, businesses, and residences, Bethlehem comes alive through this collection of extraordinary postcards.
Pubblicato:
Oct 13, 2014
ISBN:
9781439647684
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Born and raised in Bethlehem, collector and financial advisor William G. Weiner Jr. has gathered the most comprehensive collection of Bethlehem postcards in existence. Karen M. Samuels is an award-winning columnist and author of several Arcadia Publishing titles. Both Weiner and Samuels have been interviewed on television and in print about Bethlehem history.

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Bethlehem Revisited - William G. Weiner Jr.

collection.

INTRODUCTION

We invite you once again to experience a selection of 213 postcards from the Bill Weiner collection. In our first book, Postcard History Series: Bethlehem (2011), you saw a wide variety of postcards that chronicled 20th-century life in Bethlehem. We paid special attention to the photographer Gustav Adolph Conradi, whose postcards are highly collectible because of his attention to detail and his production of crystal clear images. Conradi’s work appears in this book as well. Also, the majority of these postcards have not appeared before in any other book. The influence of the Moravians, who settled Bethlehem in 1741, will be seen in many of the images. The Central Moravian Church (1803), Gemeinhaus (1741), Sun Inn (1758), and many other historic buildings set the stage for the first 100 years of Bethlehem. The Moravian settlers were a hardworking, purposeful people, and we continue to enjoy their legacy today. In 1748, as a treat for the students, Moravian teachers built and decorated small Christmas trees. This is the first documented reference to a Christmas tree in America. Bethlehem is now known as Christmas City, which is illustrated by the images of decorated streets in this book. The images of the buildings that once housed early Moravian industries are included for their importance in Colonial history. George Washington, Martha Washington, John Adams, and many others visited these industries and considered them extraordinary. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, dated February 7, 1777, John Adams wrote the following from his room at the Sun Inn: They have carried the mechanical Arts to greater Perfection here than in any Place which I have seen.

In Bethlehem, the Lehigh Canal was excavated alongside the Lehigh River between 1827 and 1829. As much as one million tons of anthracite coal was transported down the canal from Jim Thorpe to Easton each year. The quiet religious community of Bethlehem was forever changed when the finished canal allowed outsiders to float by. You can see from the postcards that the canal was constructed within walking distance to the center of town. Everyday life on the canal is on display around Bethlehem’s locks Nos. 42 and 44. The canal ceased operating in the 1940s. Today, the canal towpath has been converted into a multiuse trail that runs from Freemansburg through Bethlehem to Allentown. Next came the railroads to put the canal out of business. Railroads were more dependable for moving anthracite, as the canal would frequently freeze during the winter. In the beginning, the companies that serviced Bethlehem were the Lehigh Valley Railroad, the North Penn Railroad, and the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Asa Packer, president of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, established its headquarters in South Bethlehem in 1858.

In 1857, Augustus Wolle purchased 200 acres of the former Luckenbach farm, in South Bethlehem, from Charles Brodhead. Brodhead had convinced Wolle to establish the Bethlehem Rolling Mills and Iron Company near the junction of the Lehigh Valley and North Penn Railroads. The arrival of the railroads encouraged the building of several mills in South Bethlehem. Wolle’s iron company has had many names over the years, including Bethlehem Iron Company as well as Bethlehem Steel Company, and eventually settled on the name Bethlehem Steel Corporation, which is the name used throughout this book. Like the Lehigh Canal had an enormous effect upon Bethlehem, so did Bethlehem Steel Corporation. It transformed the small town into a city. Charles M. Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, used his influence to consolidate the boroughs of Bethlehem and South Bethlehem in 1917. Schwab was behind the scenes in the building of the Hill-to-Hill Bridge in 1924 and Hotel Bethlehem in 1926. In 1914, Bethlehem Steel was the first US company to receive armament orders from Europe. The need for laborers became intense, and Bethlehem Steel welcomed newly arrived immigrants looking for work. Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Windish, Polish, Italian, Armenian, Greek, Mexican, Portuguese, and Spaniards soon arrived in Bethlehem. The population increased 65 percent, with 22 percent being foreign born. Bethlehem Steel coordinated with churches and public schools throughout Bethlehem to offer English and Americanization classes for its employees. Bethlehem Steel obtained textbooks and teacher’s manuals from the US Bureau of Naturalization. During the years of World War I, Bethlehem Steel produced over 60 percent of the total guns, ammunition, and ships for the United States and Allied countries. After the end of World War I, in 1919, the company employed 32,000 of the town’s general population of 60,000. The Bethlehem Steel Corporation executives built their mansions in the Mount Airy section of West Bethlehem as the laborers struggled to find housing in South Bethlehem. When Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. visited Bethlehem in 1917, he observed that the whole territory is supersaturated so far as housing conditions are concerned. The stark differences in living conditions between management and laborers can be seen in several of these postcards.

Despite the housing problems, the wonderful hodgepodge of ethnic cultures made South Bethlehem an interesting and appealing place to live. As seen in the images in this book, beautiful ethnic churches sprang up on every block. As soon as there were enough residents who belonged to a specific religion, they would organize a church to preserve their religion, language, and customs.

As roads and bridges improved in Bethlehem, residents became enamored with the automobile. There are images of automobiles in this book that have long been forgotten by the general public. People used their cars to transport their families along with overflowing picnic baskets to Oakland Park in Bethlehem Township and the Bethlehem Fairgrounds in North Bethlehem. The fairgrounds contained a horse-racing track, a grandstand, and an exotic midway. Oakland Park offered a large pavilion, countless picnic tables, refreshment stands, and children’s rides. The automobile eventually would cause a migration of residents to the suburbs of Bethlehem. The 1950s images in the book captured the last hurrah of the downtown shopping centers. Only recently have people returned to the North and South Bethlehem downtowns to shop in boutiques and eat in exciting new restaurants. The Sands Casino, on the old Bethlehem Steel site in South Bethlehem, has attracted more visitors than any other Pennsylvania casino. People are returning to Bethlehem’s downtowns to seek historical charm, cafés, locally grown farmers’ markets, and crafts—not the chain stores and restaurants that are offered everywhere

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