Who’s in charge of beauty in Bethlehem?

(2nd in a series of posts about 548 N. New St.)

“It would be worth the while if in each town there were a committee appointed, to see that the beauty of the town received no detriment.”
Henry David Thoreau c. 1862

Do we have such a committee?

Who’s in charge of beauty in Bethlehem?

Gadfly was thinking of that Thoreau recommendation as he sat in the cheap seats at the Planning Commission meeting August 26, the one in which the 6-story building at 548 N. New was approved.

548 n. New st 2

And he was thinking of a message that he has kept unanswered but undeletable in the top tier of his email queue since August 2 from a faithful follower who prefers to remain anonymous (but you know who you are, CB) in response to the design of Skyline West, just after he posted about it.

What an unattractive building!! Why can’t they design something that blends into the area/cityscape? Arggghhh…


“Arggghhh,” the sound of an Adam’s Apple collapsing under a relentless tourniquet ruthlessly applied by some mad serial Strangler.

And he was thinking of how another faithful follower Kim Carrell-Smith used that same verb blend in a way that he hasn’t been able to shake, a verb that’s been nipping at his mental heels since June 17 (and that’s a long time to be nipped, let me tell you, blood was drawn).

One of the things that makes all of the Southside a cool and interesting place to live is that we have an eclectic blend of architecture, and we like it that way, it’s kind of cool, but what we don’t have are new things that completely depart from that old look of a neighborhood . . . those are just not ways houses were designed in the old days . . . part of the interesting features of the Southside are things that blend, they might be different but they blend . . . the biggest issue is scale that does not blend.

Blend . . . blend . . . blend . . . “Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom / When the jungle shadows fall” in the classic Cole Porter tune.

Do those buildings blend with their surroundings?

Who’s in charge of beauty in Bethlehem?

to be continued . . .

2 thoughts on “Who’s in charge of beauty in Bethlehem?

  1. I like to use the word ‘compatible’, Gadfly. But, I like Kim’s ‘blend’ as well. Scale, mass, architecture, location on a site, colors, materials and uses all come to mind with either word.


  2. Gadfly,

    As you will notice, there is not a tree or any other living thing in front of the building. Also if you look at his property on Union (Black Box) there is nothing but a weed here and there.

    I listen recently to a speaker from PHS (PA Horticulture Society) speak about the importance of trees to a city. I wish I could remember the statistics but the de-forestation of PA is a real concern. Bethlehem likes to put up signs about being Tree City USA but does nothing, requires nothing of builders, to support the citizens who have trees on their property. There is nothing to encourage a person to plant a tree.

    I think this should be mandatory on any new building that there be some sort of greenery and at least a tree with each new build.


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