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Allentown is a city located in Lehigh Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, in the United Statesmarker. It is Pennsylvania's third most populous city, after Philadelphiamarker and Pittsburghmarker. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 106,632, (2008 estimate 107,250). It is the county seat of Lehigh County.

Located on the Lehigh River, Allentown is the largest of three adjacent cities that make up a region of eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jerseymarker known as the Lehigh Valley, with the cities of Bethlehemmarker and Eastonmarker nearby. Allentown is north of Philadelphia, the sixth most populous city in the United States, east of Harrisburgmarker, the state capital, and west of New York Citymarker, the nation's largest city.

Two four-year colleges, Cedar Crest Collegemarker and Muhlenberg Collegemarker, are located in Allentown. Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdommarker, a very popular amusement park, is located just outside of the city.

Air transport to and from the city is available through Lehigh Valley International Airportmarker .



The area that is today the center of Allentown was laid out as Northampton Town in 1762 by William Allen, a wealthy shipping merchant, former mayor of the city of Philadelphia and then-Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania. The property was part of a 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 tract was originally surveyed on November 23, 1736. A subsequent survey done in 1753 by David Schultz for a road from Eastonmarker to Readingmarker, of which present-day Union and Jackson streets were links, shows the location of 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.

The original plan for the town, now in the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, was comprised of forty-two city blocks and consisted of 756 lots, mostly in width and in depth. The town was located between present-day Fourth and Tenth Streets, and Union and Liberty Streets. Many streets on the original plan were named for Allen's children: Margaret (present-day Fifth Street), William (now Sixth), James (now Eighth), Ann (now Ninth) and John (now Walnut). Allen Street (now Seventh) was named for Allen himself, and was the main thoroughfare. Hamilton Street was named for James Hamilton. Gordon Street was named for Sir Patrick Gordon, Deputy Governor of Colonial Pennsylvania from 1726-1736. Chew Street was named for Benjamin Chew, and Turner Street was named for Allen's business partner, Joseph Turner.
Allen hoped that Northampton Town would displace Easton as the seat of Northampton Countymarker and also become a commercial center due to its location along the Lehigh River and its proximity to Philadelphia. Allen gave the property to his son James in 1767. Three years later, in 1770, James built a summer residence, Trout Hall, in the new town, near the site of his father's former hunting lodge.

On March 18, 1811, the town was formally incorporated as the Borough of Northampton. On March 6, 1812, Lehigh County was formed from the western half of Northampton County, and Northampton Town was selected as the county seat. The town was officially renamed "Allentown" on April 16, 1838, after years of popular usage. Allentown was formally incorporated as a city on March 12, 1867.

Liberty Bell and the American Revolutionary War

Allentown holds historical significance as the location where the Liberty Bellmarker (then known as the Pennsylvania State House bell) was successfully hidden from the Britishmarker during the American Revolutionary War. After George Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywinemarker on September 11, 1777, the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia was defenseless, and that city prepared for British attack. The Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ordered that eleven bells, including the State House bell and the bells from Philadelphia's Christ Churchmarker and St. Peter's Churchmarker, be taken down and removed from the city to prevent the British, who would melt the bells down to cast into cannons, from taking possession of them. The bells were transported north to Northampton-Towne, and hidden in the basement of the Old Zion Reformed Church, in what is now center city Allentown. Today, a shrine and museum in the church's basement marks the exact spot where the Liberty Bell was hidden. It features a full-size official replica of the Liberty Bell, flanked by the flags of the original thirteen colonies.

After the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, Hessian prisoners-of-war were kept in the vicinity of present-day Seventh and Gordon Streets. The Old Zion Reformed Church, and a house near James (now Eighth) and Hamilton Streets, served as hospitals for injured and sick Continental Army troops. In 1777, a factory manufacturing paper cartridges for muskets was relocated here from nearby Bethlehem. That same year, a shop of sixteen armorer was established along the Little Lehigh Creek, and employed in the repair of weapons and the manufacture of saddles and scabbards.

American Industrial Revolution

Prior to the 1830s, Allentown was a small town with only local markets. The arrival of the Lehigh Canal, however, expanded the city's commerce and industrial capacity greatly. With this, the town underwent significant industrialization, ultimately becoming a major center for heavy industry and manufacturing. While Allentown was not as large as neighboring Bethlehemmarker at the time, the local iron industry — which included the Allentown Iron Company (established 1846) and the Allentown Rolling Mills (established 1860) — employed the majority of Allentown's workforce. Railroads, such as the Lehigh Valley Railroad, were vital to the movement of raw materials and finished goods, and employed a significant workforce during this time. This period of rapid economic growth in the region was halted by two events, the Panic of 1873 and the Long Depression.

In addition to the iron and railroad industries, Allentown also had a strong tradition in the brewing of beer and was home to several notable breweries, including the Horlacher Brewery (founded 1897, closed 1978), the Neuweiler Brewery (founded 1875, closed 1968) and Schaefer Beer, whose brewery was later sold to Guinness.

Early 20th century to present

Economic recovery in the early 20th century was brought about by the silk and textile industry. The Adelaide Silk Mill, one of the largest in the world at the time, opened in Allentown in 1881. By 1928, there were over 140 silk and textile mills in the Lehigh Valley, making it the second largest industry in the region. By the 1930s, the silk industry was in worldwide decline, as synthetics were taking the place of silk. Catoir Silk Mill, the last silk mill in Allentown, closed in 1989. In 1905, Mack Trucks moved to Allentown, beginning Allentown's focus on heavy industrial manufacturing. Today, Allentown's economy, like most of Pennsylvania's, is primarily based in the service industries.



Allentown is located at 40°36'6" North, 75°28'38" West (40.601697, -75.477328). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.5 km² (18.0 mi²). 45.9 km² (17.7 mi²) of it is land and 0.6 km² (0.2 mi²) of it 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 Muhlenbergmarker in Cedar Creek Parkway and a pond in Trexler Park.

The city sits within the Lehigh Valley, a geographic region bounded by Blue Mountain, a ridge of the Appalachianmarker mountain range, which varies from 1,000 to in height about north of the city, and South Mountainmarker, a ridge of 500 to in height that borders the southern edge of the city.

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

Surrounding municipalities


Allentown's climate is considered to fall in the humid continental climate zone. Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold. Precipitation is almost uniformly distributed throughout the year.

January lows average and highs average . The lowest officially recorded temperature was in 1912. July lows average and highs average . The highest temperature on record was in 1966. Early fall and mid-winter are generally driest, with February being the driest month with only 69.9 mm of average precipitation.

Snowfall is variable, with some winters bringing light snow and others bringing numerous significant snowstorms. Average snowfall is per year, with the months of January and February receiving the highest at just over each. Rainfall is generally spread throughout the year, with eight to twelve wet days per month, at an average annual rate of .



Young people gather on 19th Street, in Allentown's West End, 2007.

Center City, which includes the downtown area and the 7th Street retail and residential corridor, is the city's central business district and the host to various city, county and federal government centers. To the east of Center City are "The Wards," the areas that developed as residential areas during the city's industrial boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Just east of the Lehigh River are the city's East Side neighborhoods, most of which border the various routes to nearby Bethlehemmarker. South of Center City, and across the Little Lehigh Creek, are the city's South Side neighborhoods, which border Emmausmarker. Lastly, there is the affluent West End, which traditionally comprises most neighborhoods west of 15th Street.


Allentown's Center City neighborhoods mainly consist of a variety of Victorian and Federal rowhomes. The stately homes around West Park are mostly Victorian and Craftsman. The impressive homes on the city's tree-lined streets in the West End were mostly built in the 1920's and 40's. Houses in the City's South Side and East Side are mixture of styles and are generally twins and single family homes built from the 1940's through the 1960's with century old Victorians in the mix. Allentown also has loft apartments in converted mills and historic brick manufacturing buildings and modern and historic high-rise apartment buildings.

The PPL Building is Allentown's tallest building at . It is 23 stories high and is located at the northwest corner of 9th and Hamilton Street. A Lehigh Valley icon, this Art Deco tower can be seen from places throughout the Lehigh Valley. One of the city's older still-standing structures, Allentown Symphony Hallmarker, at 23 North Sixth Street in Center City, was constructed in 1896.

The City of Allentown is characterized by a large stock of historic homes, commercial structures and century-old industrial buildings.

There are three historic districts in Allentown, Old Allentown, the Old Fairgrounds and West Park neighborhoods. Old Allentown and Old Fairgrounds are Center City neighborhoods that hold a joint house tour organized by Old Allentown Preservation Association (OAPA) once a year in September. The West Park neighborhood also offers a tour of this district's larger Victorian and Craftsman-style homes.


Arts and entertainment

The Allentown Symphony Orchestra performs at Allentown Symphony Hallmarker, located on North Sixth Street in center city. The city also has a rich 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, as well as the Marine Band of Allentown, the Municipal Band of Allentown and the Pioneer Band of Allentown, all regularly perform at the bandshell in the city's West Park.

The Allentown Art Museummarker, located on North Fifth Street in Center City, is home to a collection of over 13,000 pieces of art, along with an associated library. The Baum School of Artmarker, 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.

Increasingly, Allentown is home to an emerging arts scene. Local artists have organized themselves into the Chen Arts Group, which has held art shows in downtown spaces and the Allentown Art Museum. Word Wednesdays, a monthly poetry jam, takes place the second Wednesday of each month in the Silk Lounge of the Allentown Brew Works, a center city-based restaurant and nightclub.


Vestiges of Allentown's 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 Farmer's 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.

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 city's ethnic populations has led to the opening of many family run restaurants specializing in ethnic cuisine. Ethnic food types represented include Dominican, Mexican, Thai, Puerto Rican, West Indian, Japanese, Italian, Lebanese and Syrian.

Due in part to Allentown's proximity to Philadelphiamarker, cheesesteaks are also popular. Yocco's 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 manufactured in Allentown since 1918.


Allentown is home to several museums, all open to the public. These museums are:

Theme parks

Allentown is home to the area's premier amusement park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdommarker.


Club League Sport Venue Established Championships
Lehigh Valley IronPigs IL Baseball Coca-Cola Parkmarker 2008 0
Northampton Laurels FC WPSL Soccer J.marker Birney Crum Stadiummarker 2005 0
Pennsylvania Stoners NPSL Soccer J.marker Birney Crum Stadiummarker 1979 2 (1980, 2008)
Philadelphia Force NPF Softball Bicentennial Parkmarker 2006 0


Allentown has a history in the sport of professional baseball that dates back to 1884. In 2008, Allentown unveiled Coca-Cola Parkmarker, a $50.25 million, 8,100-seat stadium. The stadium was constructed in east-side Allentown to serve as the home field for the Philadelphia Phillies' AAA-level Minor League baseball team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The IronPigs, a member of the International League, are the first Major League-affiliated club to play in the city since 1960.


Allentown hosted the Allentown Jets, an Eastern Professional Basketball League team, from 1958 to 1981. The Jets were one of the most dominant franchises in the league's history, winning eight playoff championships and twelve division titles. The team’s home games were played in Rockne Hall at Allentown Central Catholic High Schoolmarker.


Allentown is also home to the Stoners, a professional soccer team. From 1979-1983, the Stoners were members of the American Soccer League. The team had a five-year league record of 76-49-25, and won the league championship in 1980. Due to increasing competition from other soccer leagues, and decreasing attendance, the team folded in 1983. The team was resurrected in 2007 as the Pennsylvania Stoners, and competes in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Based in Allentown, the team originally played its home games at J.marker Birney Crum Stadiummarker. In 2008, the team captured the NPSL league championship. Since 2009, the Stoners play their home games at Whitehall-Coplay School District's Zephyr Sports Complex in nearby Whitehall. The Eastonmarker-based Northampton Laurels FC, of the Women's Premier Soccer League, also play at J. Birney Crum Stadium.


Allentown's economy has historically been and continues to be manufacturing based. The city serves as the location of corporate headquarters for several large, global companies, including Air Products & Chemicals, Mack Trucks, PPL, and others. The largest employer in Allentown is Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, with over 7,800 employees.

In 2008, after over 100 years in the city, Mack Trucks announced that their Allentown-based corporate headquarters would be relocated to Greensboro, North Carolinamarker in 2009.News/Events: Mack Plans Restructuring to Increase Competitiveness, Secure Long-Term Leadership Position. - News Releases 2008. - Mack Trucks. - August 14, 2008. - Retrieved: 2008-11-07 It is expected that the move will result in the loss of approximately 600 jobs. Recently, the Lehigh Valley Health Network announced that they will be moving approximately 1,000 employees into the Mack Truck Building.


The Center City area along Hamilton Street in Center City between 10th and 5th Streets, was the primary shopping district in Allentown until the mid-1970s. The "Downtown", as it was referred to, was anchored by Hess's (9th and Hamilton); H. Leh and Company (7th and Hamilton), and Zollinger and Harned (6th and Hamilton) department stores. Along Hamilton street were scores of retail businesses; large banks; movie theaters and various small restaurants and lunch counters. On the second and third stories, professional offices could be found in many of the smaller buildings with storefronts on the first floor. Businesses generally operated from 9am to 5pm Monday-Saturday, staying open until 9pm on Thursdays and starting in the mid-1960s, also on Monday nights. Until 1952, Lehigh Valley Transit street trollies operated east-west along the length of Hamilton Street, and also north and south along 8th Street. The major transit station downtown being at 8th & Hamilton.

In the 1950s, City-owned parking lots (Park & Shop) to accommodate shoppers using automobiles began to be built by raizing old buildings generally within a block of Hamilton between Walnut and Linden streets, with Hamilton street merchants providing validation for shoppers parking tickets. In the early 1970s, Hess's and Leh's built large, private multilevel covered parking decks connected to their department stores to attract customers.

In 1966, the Whitehall Mallmarker opened along MacArthur Road, just north of Allentown in Whitehall Townshipmarker. It was the first enclosed shopping center north of Philadelphia when it opened. Having two major department stores (Sears & Roebuck and Zollinger and Harned) as anchor stores when it opened, its popularity led to the rise of a sprawling retail district along MacArthur Road that continued to expand into the early 1990s. After a major renovation in 1998, the Whitehall Mall's anchors included Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kohl's, and Sears.

In the early 1970s, Hess's South, a satellite location of the Hess's downtown store, expanded to become the South Mallmarker, located in South Allentown, at the city's border with Salisbury Townshipmarker and Emmausmarker. Today, the South Mall's anchors include Gold's Gym, Petco, Staples, Stein Mart, and The Bon-Ton.

In 1976, the Lehigh Valley Mallmarker opened, just south of the Whitehall Mall, at the intersection of U.S. Route 22 and MacArthur Road. With over 140 stores, the Lehigh Valley Mall became the largest shopping mall in the region, and presently has anchors including Boscov's, JCPenney and Macy'smarker. A large outdoor shopping addition opened in October 2007, and includes stores such as Apple and Barnes & Noble. Most recently, The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valleymarker, a large, upscale outdoor shopping mall, opened just south of the city, near Pennsylvania Route 309 and Interstate 78, in Upper Saucon Townshipmarker.

Hamilton Mall

By the late 1960s, the development of suburban strip shopping centers (Lehigh, Crest Plaza, Two Guys, Mountainville, and Parkway) in the area during the late 1950s and 1960s and especially the opening of the indoor Whitehall Mallmarker in 1966 were steadily reducing the number of shoppers along Hamilton Street. Consumers preferred the convenience of easy access via automobile, and the enclosed Whitehall Mall to the pedestrian outdoor sidewalk shopping which was found along Hamilton Street. The City of Allentown hired the firm of David M. Walker Associates in 1969 to explore the needs of Center City. The 1969 Walker Report concluded that automobile traffic had taken over the downtown shopping area and that a traffic-free business district between Linden, Walnut, Sixth and Tenth Streets be developed and to convert the downtown Hamilton Street shopping area to a "Semimall", later known as "Hamilton Mall". Traffic would no longer be allowed on Hamilton Street. The intersection of Eighth and Hamilton would be closed as well as all half streets intersecting Hamilton. This would create a large pedestrian shopping "superblock" between Center Square and 9th Street, with two smaller shopping blocks between Sixth and Seventh and Ninth and Tenth. Center Square would become a large, pedestrian only area with Seventh street being reduced to one lane on each side of the Soldier's and Sailor's Monument. Hamilton Street would be completely rebuilt, with the existing street removed and replaced by a raised brick walking surface. Large, enclosing canopies would be built on each side of the street to provide shoppers protection from the weather, and small buses would operate east-west between 6th and 10th Streets picking up and dropping off shoppers to give them easy access to retail stores.

During a 30-day test in April 1971, traffic on Hamilton Street was shut down between Sixth and Tenth and Lehigh Valley Transit provided small buses, free of charge for shoppers. Walnut Street, which traditionally ran one way east to west, was reversed to run west-east, with traffic along Hamilton Street being diverted south to Walnut at Twelfth street for eastbound travel. Traffic moving westbound on Hamilton Street was diverted north at Sixth, then moved west along Linden to Twelfth, then south to Hamilton, giving the center city a circular traffic flow around the pedestrian-only Center City.

Problems quickly arose. It was difficult for small merchants downtown to receive deliveries, since the half streets were blocked and the narrow streets did not allow turnarounds of small delivery trucks. Also, the new restriction prohibiting automobile traffic on Hamilton Street was unpopular, and the proposed closing of the Eighth and Hamilton intersection was deemed impractical, since it blocked a major north-south route from South Allentown. Within a week, Eighth Street was reopened. The plan was also changed to allow limited two-lane automobile traffic on Hamilton Street one-way west to east, with limited drop-off and pick-up only parking. Traffic lights were installed at each major street and half street with a speed limit of 20 MPH. The sidewalks would be expanded outwards with canopies covering them.

Final plans were developed and approval was given by City Council in October 1971. Construction of Hamilton Mall began in early 1972, with construction lasting until 1974. Starting at 10th street and proceeding east, one full block at a time was closed to traffic with the existing street surface and sidewalks removed (including the old trolley tracks which had been asphalted over in the 1950s) along with the sidewalks on each side of the street. In addition, the famous downtown sidewalk street lights, which contained hanging flower gardens, were scrapped. Retail store street signs were also removed, including the large signature Hess's department store sign because they interfered with the sidewalk street canopies. The large parking areas at Center Square and comfort station under the square were also removed and turned into large brick sidewalks, along with the resurfacing of Seventh Street between Linden and Walnut Streets.

The construction of Hamilton Mall caused severe disruption in the downtown shopping area for over two years. During that time, merchants and Center City employees experienced enormous difficulties as sections of Hamilton Street were closed for months at a time. The sidewalks along Hamilton Street were reduced to single path walkways, and piles of rubble, construction material, the sounds of heavy construction equipment took over the downtown area. During the construction period shoppers tended to avoid the downtown area and shop in the suburban malls and shopping centers.

Officially opened in 1974, Hamilton Mall never lived up to the expectations of the city planners. Large numbers of shoppers did not return to the downtown area. The opening of Lehigh Valley Mallmarker in 1976 and other, smaller malls in the suburbs with outside satellite stores increased the amount of businesses closing along Hamilton Street. The major expansion of MacArthur Road in Whitehall Townshipmarker also led to less and less shoppers on Hamilton Mall. Improvements were made along Hamilton Mall by removing the overhead sidewalk canopies and installing a new generation of street lights, designed to replicate the hanging flower gardens of the ones removed in the construction were erected to improve the Mall's appearance. Parking meters were installed to allow longer term, but still limited parking. However, by the late 1970s, increased suburbanization led to a general decline in the popularity of the downtown shopping district. Retail shopping downtown declined with the closing of Leh's (1987) and Zollinger's (1978) downtown and culminated with the last major department store, Hess's, being sold-off in 1994, eventually being closed and subsequently demolished in 2000. Instead of a shopping Mecca, the use of downtown Allentown has turned into office buildings and increasingly has become a center-city campus for city and county government workers, along with those of PPL.



Allentown-based print media include The Morning Call, the city's daily newspaper, and Pulse Weekly, an arts and entertainment newspaper.


Allentown is part of the Philadelphia DMA (designated market area). The four major Philadelphia-based network stations serving Allentown include: KYW-TVmarker (CBS), WCAUmarker (NBC), WPVImarker (ABC) and WTXFmarker (Fox). Other available Philadelphia stations include: WPHL-TVmarker, WPSGmarker, and others. Several New York City stations also serve the area, including WPIXmarker and WWOR-TVmarker.

Additionally, the city is served by three Lehigh Valley television stations: WFMZ Channel 69marker (independent) and WBPH-TVmarker (Christian), both in Allentown, and WLVT Channel 39marker (PBS) in Bethlehem.


Allentown's radio market is ranked 68th largest in the United States by Arbitron. Stations licensed to Allentown include WAEB-AMmarker (talk, news and sports), WAEB-FMmarker (Top 40 music), WDIYmarker (NPR and public radio), WHOLmarker (tropical music), WLEVmarker (adult contemporary music), WMUH (Muhlenberg Collegemarker campus radio), WSANmarker (Fox Sports Radio and Philadelphia Phillies broadcasts), WZZOmarker (hard rock music) and others. In addition, many New York City and Philadelphia stations can be received in Allentown. Urban contemporary stations available in the city include WUSL and WPHI-FMmarker from Philadelphia.


As of a 2008 United States Census Bureau estimate, there were 114,210 people living in the city. There were 44,664 housing units in Allentown. The racial makeup of Allentown was 64.8% White, 12.4% African American, 0.2% Native American or Alaskan Native, 2.4% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 17.9% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. 37.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino, mostly of Puerto Rican descent. The median age of the population was 32.8 years. The city's population broken down by age ranges was 8.1% under 5 years, 6.9% between 5 and 9 years, 6.7% between 10 and 14 years, 7.2% between 15 and 19 years, 8.2% between 20 and 24 years, 16.2% between 25 and 34 years, 12.8% between 35 and 44 years, 12.1% between 45 and 54 years, 4.7% between 55 and 59 years, 4.2% between 60 and 64 years, 5.8% between 65 and 74 years, 4.9% between 75 and 84 years, and 2.2% who were 85 years and older. There were 53,686 males and 55,214 females in the city.

66.1% of the population speaks English, while 27.5% of the population speaks Spanish. 41.8% of the foreign population is a naturalized U.S. citizen, while 58.2% are not.

As of the census of 2000, there were 106,632 people and 25,135 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,320.8/km² (6,011.5/mi²). There were 45,960 housing units at an average density of 1,000.3/km² (2,591.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.55% White, 7.85% African American, 0.33% Native American, 2.27% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 13.37% from other races, and 3.55% from two or more races. 24.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino.

Allentown Compared
2000 Census Allentown PA U.S.
Total population 106,632 12,281,054 281,421,906
Population, percent change, 1990 to 2000 +1.3% +3.14% +13.1%
Population density 6,011.5/sq mi 247/sq mi 80/sq mi
Median household income $32,016 $34,619 $41,994
Bachelor's degree or higher 15.4% 22.4.4% 24.4%
Foreign born 9.6% 5% 11%
White (non-Hispanic) 72.5% 85.4% 75.1%
Black 7.8% 10.01% 12.3%
Hispanic (any race) 24.4% 4.4% 12.5%
Asian 2.3% 1.8% 4.2%

There were 42,032 households in the city, of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18, 39.4% had married couples living together, 15.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% had non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The city's average household size is 2.42 and the average family size was 3.09.

The city's population broken down by age ranges was 24.8% under 18, 11.2% from 18-24, 29.8% from 25-44, 19.1% from 45-64, and 15.1% 65 years or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there are 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,016, and the median income for a family was $37,356. Males had a median income of $30,426 versus $23,882 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,282. 18.5% of the population and 14.6% of families were below the poverty line. 29.4% of those under the age of 18 and 10.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Law and government

Politics and elections

Allentown operates as a Pennsylvania third-class city with the "strong-mayor" version of the mayor-council form of government since 1970 wherein the mayor serves as chief executive and administrative officer for the municipality and City Council serves as the legislative and oversight body providing checks and balances on the system.

Elected "at-large," the mayor serves a four year term under the city's home rule charter. The current city mayor is Democrat Ed Pawlowski, who replaced Roy C. Afflerbach after his single-term in office from 2002 to 2006. The legislative branch, the Allentown City Council, consists of seven council members elected at large for four-year staggered terms. City Council holds regular public meetings in order to enact legislation in the form of ordinances and resolutions. The current president of the City Council is Michael D'Amore. The City Controller, who is responsible for the oversight of the city's finances, is also elected and serves a four-year term.


In 2008, Allentown saw the following: 16 murders, 33 forcible rapes, 497 robberies, 259 aggravated assaults, 5,653 property crimes, 1,423 burglaries, 3,738 thefts, 492 auto thefts, and 27 arsons. There were 805 violent crimes and 5,680 property crimes reported.

In 2007, the known criminal offenses in Allentown, as reported to the FBImarker, included more than 800 violent crimes and more than 5,000 property crimes. With the exception of aggravated assault, Allentown exceeded national averages in all criminal categories. Most notable, cases of arson in Allentown were nearly double the national average. Other crimes in Allentown that substantially exceeded national averages were robbery, murder and forcible rape. In 2007, incidents of reported crimes in the city dropped, with violent crime dropping by 18 percent and all crime dropping by 9 percent.

The total reported violent crimes in Allentown was comparable to the 2003 national average (1.01 times the average).

Individual violent crime rates per capita compared to U.S. national averages were: robbery (1.54 times avg.), murder (1.47 times avg.), forcible rape (1.32 times avg.), and aggravated assault (0.57 times avg.). The total reported property crimes in Allentown exceeded the 2003 national average by 1.21 times. Individual property crime rates per capita compared to the U.S. national average were: arson (1.71 times avg.), burglary (1.23 times avg.), larceny/theft (1.22 times avg.), and automobile theft (1.08 times avg.).

Allentown's crime statistics are heightened significantly by gang-related crime and gang rival and retaliatory violence stemming from the presence of many of the nation's most violent gangs. In the 1990s, anti-gang initiatives in New York City and elsewhere resulted in an increased population of gang members in Allentown, particularly in the city's center city area. Gangs including 18th Street, Black Dragons, Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, Los Solidos, Mexican Mafia, MS-13 all have a presence in the region. Over 75% of the homicides in Allentown during 2007 were drug or gang-related killings. In 2008, a multimillion dollar methamphetamine ring operating in Allentown and the surrounding region, with ties to the Crips organization, was broken up by narcotics agents. The city has undertaken various initiatives, including participation in the federally-funded "Route 222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative" and the reorganization of the city police department, in an attempt to combat the problem. Additionally, the city's Weed and Seed program has been effective at reducing both violent and non-violent crime in the downtown neighborhoods it serves.


Public schools

The City of Allentown is served by the Allentown School District, which is the fourth largest school district in Pennsylvania, with 18,118 students (based on 2005-2006 enrollment data).

The city maintains two public high schools for grades 9-12, William Allen High Schoolmarker, which serves students from the southern and western parts of the city, and Louis E.marker Dieruff High Schoolmarker, which serves students from the eastern and northern parts. Each of these Allentown area high schools competes athletically in the Lehigh Valley Conference. Both schools play their home football games at J.marker Birney Crum Stadiummarker.

Allentown School District's four middle schools, for grades 6-8, include: Francis D. Raub Middle School, Harrison-Morton Middle School, South Mountain Middle School and Trexler Middle School. The city is served by 16 elementary schools, for kindergarten through fifth grade, including: Central, Cleveland, Hiram W. Dodd, Jackson, Jefferson, Lehigh Parkway, Lincoln, McKinley, Midway Manor, Mosser, Muhlenberg, Ritter, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Union Terrace and Washington. The Roberto Clemente Charter Schoolmarker, also located in the Allentown School District, is a Title I charter school which provides educational services to mainly Hispanic students in grades 6 through 12.

The Allentown School District is currently undertaking a 10 year, $120 million facilities improvement plan. The plan includes renovation of all 23 schools in the district. Most of the schools to be renovated will be expanded. Two additional elementary schools and a fifth middle school are expected to be built.

Private schools

Allentown has two parochial high schools, Allentown Central Catholic High Schoolmarker and Lehigh Valley Christian High Schoolmarker, though both schools draw students from both Allentown and the city's suburbs. Other Allentown-based parochial schools (serving all grades) include: Cathedral of Saint Catharine of Siena School, Holy Spirit School, Lehigh Christian Academy, Mercy Special Learning Center, Our Lady Help of Christians School, Sacred Heart School, Saint Francis of Assisi School, Saint Paul School, and Saint Thomas More School. Parochial schools in Allentown are operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown. The Grace Montessori School is a pre-school and early elementary Montessori school run as an outreach of Grace Episcopal Church. The Swain School, a non-sectarian private school founded in 1929, is also located in Allentown.

Colleges and universities

Two four-year colleges are located in Allentown: Cedar Crest Collegemarker and Muhlenberg Collegemarker. A satellite campus of Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), a comprehensive community college which offers two and four year degree programs, continuing education and industry training, is located in Center City Allentown.




The city's primary airport, Lehigh Valley International Airportmarker , is located three miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown in Hanover Townshipmarker. The city is also served by Allentown Queen City Municipal Airportmarker , a two-runway general aviation facility used predominantly by private aviation.For nonstop flights, residents in the Lehigh Valley will often need to travel to Newark or Philadelphia.


Four expressways run through the Allentown area, with associated exits to the city: Interstate 78, which runs from Harrisburgmarker in the west to New York Citymarker's Holland Tunnelmarker in the east; the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, (which is part of I-476), runs from Plymouth Meetingmarker outside Philadelphia in the south to Interstate 81 at Clarks Summitmarker in the north; Pennsylvania Route 309, which runs from Philadelphia in the south to The Poconos in the north; and U.S. Route 22, which runs from Cincinnati, Ohiomarker in the west to Newark, New Jerseymarker in the east. Public parking within Allentown is managed by the Allentown Parking Authority.

There are nine major inbound roads to Allentown: Airport Road, Cedar Crest Boulevard, Fullerton Avenue, Hamilton Boulevard, Lehigh Street, Mauch Chunk Road, Pennsylvania Route 145 (MacArthur Road), Tilghman Street, and Union Boulevard.


Public transportation within Allentown is provided by LANTA, a public bus system serving Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Several private bus lines, including Bieber Tourways, Susquehanna Trailways and Trans-Bridge Lines, provide bus service from Allentown to New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminalmarker, Philadelphia's Greyhound Terminalmarker, Atlantic Citymarker's Bus Terminal, and other regional locations.


Historically, Allentown has been served by Central Railroad of New Jersey, Conrail, Lehigh and New England Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, and Reading Railroad. While Allentown currently has no passenger rail service (the last public rail service, which was part of the Bethlehem-Philadelphia service provided by Conrail under contract with SEPTA, ceased operating in 1979), several of the Allentown-area stations once used for passenger service have been preserved through their current commercial use. In November 2008, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), along with both Lehigh and Northampton Counties, commissioned a study to explore the merits of expanding the New Jersey Transit line to the Lehigh Valley, which would potentially include stops in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.

Allentown is a regional center for commercial freight rail traffic. Currently, Norfolk Southern's primary hump classification yards are located in Allentown, and the city is also served by the R.J. Corman Railroad Group.


Allentown and the Lehigh Valley area were once served only by the 215marker area code from 1947 (when the North American Numbering Plan of the Bell System went into effect) until 1994. With the city and region's growing population, however, Allentown and its surrounding areas were afforded area code 610marker in 1994. Today, the city of Allentown is covered by 610. An overlay area code, 484, was added to the 610 service area in 1999. A plan to introduce area code 835 as an additional overlay was rescinded in 2001.

Health systems

Allentown is home to several hospitals and health networks, including St. Luke's Health Network, Sacred Heart Hospital, the Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network.


Electricity in Eastern Pennsylvania is provided by PPL, also known as PP&L. UGI provides natural gas for homes. Two cable systems, RCN Corporation (originally Twin County Cable) and Service Electric Cable TV, Inc., have served the city since the 1960s. The area's only landfill, IESI Bethlehem, is located in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvaniamarker.

Parks and recreation

City parks

The City of Allentown has one of the best park systems in the country. Much of the city's park system can be attributed to the efforts of industrialist Harry Clay Trexler. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement in the early 1900s, Trexler helped create West Park, a park in what was then a community trash pit and sandlot baseball field in an upscale area of the city. The park, which opened in 1909, features a bandshell, designed by noted Philadelphiamarker architect Horace Trumbauer, which has long been home to the Allentown Band and other community bands. Trexler also facilitated the development of Trexler Park, Cedar Parkway, Allentown Municipal Golf Course and the Trout Nursery in Lehigh Parkway. Trexler was also responsible for the development of the Trexler Trust, which to this day continues to provide private funding for the maintenance and development of Allentown's park system.

City parks in Allentown include Bicentennial Parkmarker (4,600 seat mini-stadium built for sporting events), Cedar Creek Parkway (127 acres, including Lake Muhlenbergmarker, Cedar Beach and the Malcolm W. Gross Memorial Rose Garden), East Side Reservoir (15 acres), Kimmets Lock Park (5 acres), Lehigh Canal Park (55 acres), Lehigh Parkway (999 acres), Old Allentown Cemetery (4 acres), Jordan Park, South Mountain Reservoir (157 acres), Trexler Memorial Park (134 acres), Trout Creek Parkway (100 acres), Joe Daddona Park (19 acres) and West Park (6.59 acres).


Mayfair Festival of the Arts, an arts and crafts festival established in 1986, is held each May at Cedar Beach Park in Allentown. 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.


The city has two large capacity outdoor stadiums. Coca-Cola Parkmarker, with an overall capacity of 10,000, was constructed in 2007 and is the home field for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the AAA-level minor league team affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball. J.marker Birney Crum Stadiummarker, used for Lehigh Valley Conference football and other purposes, has a seating capacity in excess of 15,000. The city has no large indoor stadium, but major indoor sporting and concert events are held at Stabler Arenamarker, in neighboring Bethlehem.

Other recreational sites

Other recreational sites in Allentown include Allentown Municipal Golf Course, Cedar Beach Pool, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdommarker, Fountain Pool, Irving Pool, Jordan Pool and Mack Pool.

Notable residents

Allentown is the birthplace of, or home to, several notable Americans, including:

Allentown in popular culture

Allentown's reputation as a rugged blue collar city has led to many references to the city in popular culture:
  • On the January 17, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live, in the skit "Good Excuse," a guest is urged to tell his girlfriend, as an excuse for his breakup with her, that his company is relocating to Allentown.

  • On the March 9, 2002 episode of MADtv, in the skit "Religious Christian," a character named Christian leaves his day trading career to preach door to door throughout Allentown. However, his obvious homosexuality leads to an awkward meeting at the Tucke home.

  • In the Season 5 episode of Frasier: "Roz and the Schnoz," which first aired May 5, 1998, Niles tells Frasier that a man from Allentown is donating a lung to his brother.

  • 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.

  • Allentown is the hometown of up and coming showgirl Peggy Sawyer in the long-running, Tony Award-winning Broadwaymarker 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 show's director and entire cast successfully dissuade her by singing the famed musical number "The Lullaby of Broadway."

  • Allentown is mentioned in the opening lyric of the Frank Zappa song "200 Years Old," which appears on his 1975 album Bongo Fury.

  • In the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie, character Rosie Alvarez is from Allentown. In the song "Spanish Rose," she sings: "I'm 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 was home to the character Duane Doberman in The Phil Silvers Show, a CBS comedy series that ran from 1955 to 1959.

Landmarks and popular locations

  • 19th Street Theatre (opened 1928), 527 N. 19th St. Home of Civic Theatre of Allentownmarker, which stages plays and hosts fine arts film series.
  • Albertus L.marker Meyers Bridgemarker (built 1913), 8th & Union Sts. Also known as the Eighth Street Bridge, once the longest and highest concrete bridge in the world.
  • Allentown Art Museummarker (built 1934), 31 N. 5th St. Collection of over 13,000 works of art, along with an associated library.
  • Allentown Cemetery Park (established 1765), 10th & Linden Sts. Burial site of the city's earliest residents, including American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 veterans.
  • Allentown Fairgrounds (established 1889), 400 N. 17th St. Home of the Allentown Fair (started 1852), Allentown Farmers Market, Agri-Plex exhibit hall and The Ritz restaurant.
  • Allentown Post Office (built 1933-34), 5th & Hamilton Sts. Classical Moderne-style building with Art Deco ornamentation. Interior murals of local historical scenes by New York artist Gifford Reynolds Beal.
  • Allentown Symphony Hallmarker (built 1896), 23 N. 6th St. Owned by the Allentown Symphony Association, a 1200-seat performing arts facility that is home to the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, as well as Pennsylvania Sinfonia, Community Concerts of Allentown, Allentown Band and Community Music School of the Lehigh Valley.
  • Bogert's Covered Bridge (built 1841), S. 24th St. & Fish Hatchery Rd. One of the region's oldest covered bridges, a span over the Little Lehigh Creek in Allentown's Lehigh Parkway.
  • Frank Buchman House, 117 N. 11th St. Home of Frank N. D. Buchman (1878-1961), founder of the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament religious movements.
  • Butz-Groff House (built 1872), 111 N. 4th St. Dark stone Victorian home in what was once the center of Allentown's most fashionable residential district. Built by attorney Samuel A. Butz and later owned by his grandson, Joseph C. Groff.
  • Cedar Crest Collegemarker (founded 1867), 100 College Dr. Liberal arts college with an campus on the city's western edge.
  • Centre Square and Soldiers & Sailors Monument (built 1899), 7th & Hamilton Sts. Monument honoring American Civil War veterans from the 47th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
  • William F. Curtis Arboretum (started 1915), 100 College Dr. Located at Cedar Crest College, a collection of 140 species of trees registered with the American Public Gardens Association.
  • Earl F.marker Hunsicker Bicentennial Parkmarker (built 1939, renovated 1976), Lehigh & S. Howard Sts. Originally Fairview Field, home to the city's Minor League Baseball teams, 1939-47. As Bicentennial Park, hosted the Allentown Ambassadors, 1997-2003.
  • Hess's Department Store (closed 1996 and demolished in 2000).
  • Homeopathic Healing Art Plaque, 31 S. Penn St. Marks the location of the world's first medical college exclusively devoted to the practice of homeopathic medicine. Established in 1835, the college went bankrupt in 1845 and relocated to Philadelphia, where it developed into what is today Hahnemann University Hospital.
  • J.marker Birney Crum Stadiummarker (built 1948), 22nd & Turner Sts. Home football field of Allentown's three high schools, a 15,000-capacity stadium once the largest in Pennsylvania.
  • Muhlenberg Collegemarker (founded 1848), 2400 Chew St. Liberal arts college located on an campus in Allentown's West End.
  • Old Allentown Cemetery (established 1846), N. Fountain & Linden Sts. City's second oldest cemetery, located next to Allentown Cemetery Park. Burial site of Tilghman Good (1830-87), two-term mayor and commander of the 47th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers during the American Civil War.
  • Old Court House County Museum, 5th & Hamilton Sts.
  • Old Zion Reformed Church and Liberty Bell Shrine Museum, 622 Hamilton St. Located on Hamilton Street in center city Allentown, the temporary hiding place of the Liberty Bellmarker in 1777-78 during the Revolutionary War.
  • Portland Place (built 1902), 718 Hamilton St. Former headquarters of Lehigh Portland Cement Company, remodeled in the art deco style in 1939-40. Over the front door was a glass relief by artist Oronzio Maldarelli, the largest glass mural panel in the world at the time. When the company (now Lehigh Cement Company) relocated, the sculpture was installed in the building's new lobby.
  • PPL Building (built 1928), 9th & Hamilton Sts. Allentown's tallest building (23 stories), headquarters to PPL Corporation.
  • Revolutionary War Plaque (erected 1926), 8th & Hamilton Sts. On the side of the Farr Building, marks the site of a hospital for Revolutionary War soldiers in 1777-78.
  • Sterling Hotel (1890), 343-45 Hamilton St. Three-story, Romanesque-style brick hotel. Now a popular bar and music venue. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, 1984.
  • Trout Hall (built 1770), 414 Walnut St. Oldest house in Allentown, built by James Allen, son of William Allen, the city's founder.
  • Yocco's Hot Dogs (opened 1922). Regionally-popular restaurant chain with six Lehigh Valley locations, including three in Allentown.

Museums and cultural organizations

Sister cities and twin cities

Allentown has three official sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International :

Allentown also has two designated "twin cities":


External links

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