Historic Districts in Pennsylvania: An Evolving Sense of Place

Jim Thorpe, originally named Mauch Chunk, is a small and picturesque borough of well-preserved 19th-century buildings perched on the side of a mountain along the Lehigh River in Carbon County. It once served as an important railroad and coal shipping center. As these industries waned in the 20th century, the town sought new economic purpose by marketing its scenic appeal as the “Switzerland of...
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Eighteenth Century Views of Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1741 by a group of German Protestants known as the Unitas Fratrum – The Unity of the Brethren. Original­ly from Bohemia and Moravia, in what is modern eastern Czechoslovakia, they became known simply as Moravians. They emigrated to Saxony, Germany, where, on the estates of Count Nicholas Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, they estab­lished the community of...
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The Anthracite Iron Furnaces of Alburtis

As it stands today, the ruin of Lock Ridge Furnace at Alburtis, in Lehigh County, looks more akin to a misplaced Norman fortress than a nine­teenth century anthracite iron furnace. The partially re­stored walls, reinforced by heavy metal bolts, give the venerable Pennsylvania structure a false touch of the medieval. The productive history of the anthracite iron furnaces began in December 1866...
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Painting the Town: Bethlehem and its Artists

Since its founding in 1741, the city of Beth­lehem in eastern Pennsylvania has bene­fitted from the presence of artists associated with its Moravian founders and their educational institutions, specifically the Moravian Semi­nary for Young Ladies, founded almost as early as the city itself, and Moravian College. In the eighteenth century Valentine Haidt served as the city’s...
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Northampton County: From Frontier Farms to Urban Industries – and Beyond

Sweeping across southcentral Pennsyl­vania lies the Great Valley and nestled in its northeastern corner is mod­ern Northampton County. Bordered on the east by the Delaware River, on the south by South Mountain and the piedmont, and on the west by the valley of the Lehigh River, the three hundred and seventy-two square mile re­gion is one of gently rolling hills and wooded valleys, with...
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A Walk of Injustice

Just before sunrise on Monday, September 19, 1737, a strange gathering of Indians, white settlers and professional woodsmen assembled beneath a mam­moth chestnut tree along the Durham Road in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Indians were Minsi and Shaw­nee of the Delaware Nation, along with two of their chiefs, Tisheekunk and Nutimus; the white settlers were men anx­ious for Pennsylvania to...
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Carbon County: Stone Coal in the Switzerland of America

Carbon, the primary component of an­thracite coal, is also a county in eastern Pennsylvania – for the same reason. The value of anthracite to the burgeoning industrial revolution of the mid­-nineteenth century created in 1843 a new county from the northern fringes of the once­-immense Northampton County. Beginning in the nine­teenth century, an entire county of coal was carved and moved to...
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Lehigh County: The Land and Its People

Lehigh County encompasses the western half of the Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania. Bounded on the east by the Lehigh River, the main geographical feature of the larger valley, and on the north by the Blue Mountain range, the land is a mosaic of lime­stone plain, sinks and rolling hills. While the southern region of the county lies astride the so-called South Moun­tain and the hills of the...
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Allentown’s Boom Decade

Allentown underwent rapid development in the 1850’s. Population grew at the rate of 116 percent from 3,779 in 1850 to 8,025 in 1860. This expansion in population was matched by territorial growth in 1852 as a sizable section of land to the east of the original borough – the land lying between the Jordan and Lehigh rivers – was annexed. The economic basis for this development...
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Lackawanna County: The Last Shall Not Be Least

The history of the Key­stone State’s sixty­-seven counties is often quite similar to family histories. Its portrait is a rich composite of Native American legend and lore, early trans­portation, marine and mari­time heritage, industry and industrialists, pioneers, capitalists and the working classes, religious communes, inventors and the Industrial Revolution …. And the county, whose...
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