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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Letter to Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin

Casualties in the American Civil War were enormous on both sides of the four-year conflict. Reuben Kemmerer (also spelled Kemerer), of Company I, 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, suffered wounds to his right hand during the Second Battle of Deep Bottom in August 1864. He was one of approximately 2,900 Union soldiers wounded in the engagement which took place in Henrico County, Virginia,...
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Delaware County: Where Pennsylvania Began

Delaware County is part of the densely populated belt around Philadelphia, stretching from the city’s western boundary to the circular Delaware state line. Covering approx­imately 185 square miles, it is the third smallest Pennsylvania county yet the fourth largest in population. Its southern boundary is formed by the Delaware River, from which the county takes its name. The site of early...
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Pennsylvania’s Architectural Heritage: The Preservation Movement in the Keystone State, 1950-1981

As the last in a four-part series about Pennsylvania s architecture, this conclusion focuses on the develop­ments which have occurred in the field of preservation over the past thirty years. Although this temporal division may seem disproportionate when com­pared with the one hundred fifty years covered in rite preceding article. it has been dictated by both the incentives and challenges to...
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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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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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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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Berks County: Diamond of the Schuylkill Valley

Since 1811, when Schuylkill County was created to include part of what had been northern Berks County, Berks has been distinguishable by its diamond shape. It approxi­mates a geometric diamond or lozenge – an equilateral paral­lelogram without right angles. Its history also seems diamond-like, as it has com­bined a very hard, cutting, and persistently pragmatic charac­teristic with a...
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A King Crowns the World’s Greatest Athlete

On a sun-drenched July afternoon in 1912, thirty thousand spectators thronged the closing ceremonies of the fifth Olympiad held that year in Sweden’s capital of Stockholm. The event was quite a spectacle, punctuated by pomp and circumstance befitting a royal pageant. The stadium, especially constructed for the games, was electric with excitement. As a chorus of four thousand voices filled...
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Painting a Sense of Place: Walter Emerson Baum and the Lehigh Valley

Even today, take any of its highways or byways and, around some turn in the road, a visitor can be overwhelmed with a scene of such intimate beauty that it makes the heart race a little. This is the bucolic Lehigh Valley of southeastern Pennsylvania. Streams and stone houses, church spires, quaint villages nestled among the lush, rolling hills – all come together in a blend so distinct...
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