A first step toward a map of Bethlehem neighborhoods

(the latest in a series of posts on Neighborhoods)

A tip o’ the hat and a wave o’ the wings to Julia Maserjian for contacting Karen Pooley after Gadfly’s December 29 post Reminding myself about a neighborhood map.

Read on — doesn’t this sound exciting!

Karen,

Just read your comments on Gadfly and think your idea of a neighborhood map(s) is a good one.  When the Still Looking for You project was developed it was with the goal of residents being able to contribute “memories” about their city. With the exception of “The Lost Neighborhood,” this did not happen. People want something about place to latch onto, and the issue of urban renewal in a particular neighborhood was the thing.  Let’s talk more about how we can engage in a map-making project.

Julia

*******

Julia,

Thank you so much for reaching out.

What we’ve found in city after city is that people are most connected to their neighborhood and their block — and the bigger the geography you’re talking about (whether the “west side” or the city as a whole), the more likely people are to have negative impressions of it even when they love their immediate surroundings (because you’re talking about somewhere else that they don’t associate with their immediate surroundings). Geneva (NY) was a case in point of this — people were uniformly down on the city of Geneva but loved the block they lived on and the adjacent blocks. We actually helped them define 11 different neighborhoods (Geneva has roughly 13,500 residents — roughly the same as the South Side), and it completely transformed how people thought of their hometown.

Happy to work on a mapping project!  The market value analysis TRF recently completed for the city is likely a good place to start.

Karen

Reminding myself about a neighborhood map

(the latest in a series of posts on Neighborhoods)

Martha Larkin’s recent post on William Penn school and catching up on the Northside 2027 web site made Gadfly realize that he needs to keep some interesting past ideas on his radar.

In a comment to a post entitled “You’ve got me thinking about neighborhoods,” in which Gadfly talked about wishing for a census of neighborhoods and a map of neighborhoods, Karen Beck Pooley wrote:

I love the idea of a neighborhood map for Bethlehem! The “North Side” and even the “Northside 2027” subarea of it are both made up of multiple neighborhoods. And the same can be said of the “South Side” and “West Bethlehem” – and yet we often just talk about each of those areas as a single place. Our doing so actually makes community engagement, neighborhood organizing, and even tailoring neighborhood revitalization strategies harder…

A neighborhood map. A map of neighborhoods. Gadfly doesn’t want to lose that idea.

Integrally tied with such a map would be posts capturing the flavor of life in each neighborhood.

A month or so ago Gadfly tried to get some traction on this idea by focusing on schools. He keeps hearing in mind’s ear CM Reynolds talk about his “beloved” William Penn and Thomas Jefferson.

Schools are a way we map neighborhoods. That might be an easy place to start.

Gadfly searched around online for a map of Bethlehem by elementary school area. No luck. He went to the school district on Sycamore and asked — no luck. But a worker with good ears stationed at a distance overheard and volunteered that there might be one in a calendar. Sure enough. But still not quite what I wanted nor transferable online.

Bethlehem school folk Karen and Michael Faccinetto are Gadfly followers — if you know of such a map, pass on the info, wouldya?

So this is just a note to myself not to let this mapping idea slip away.

Northside 2027 on the web!

(the latest in a series of posts on Northside 2027 and on Neighborhoods)

Gadfly never thought blogging would keep him so busy.

Trying to catch up.

Martha’s post on William Penn school reminded me that I missed a Northside 2027 meeting in November because I wasn’t on the mailing list.

Won’t happen again.

The project has a web site now with a place to sign on.

Why don’t you sign on, even if you are not living in the area.

See what ideas are developed there that might be applicable elsewhere in the city.

Click on Northside 2027!

 

I love our William Penn neighborhood

(the latest in a series of posts on Northside 2027 and on Neighborhoods)

(see Gadfly’s “Memories of William Penn” — Oct. 27)

Martha A Larkin is a lifelong learner, linguist, caffeine connoisseur, and country road commuter. She has found her teaching home in a rural community in the northwest corner of the LV that we call Tiger Country. She attended and graduated from Bethlehem schools (K-M.Ed.). Bethlum is where she resides.

To the Gadfly:

I love our neighborhood. I live in the home that I came home to as an infant. The only one of my six siblings born in Bethlehem. I went away for awhile but my roots are here. They’re firmly planted in a neighborhood rich with things that I love: education, history, and trees. I’m not The Lorax; I don’t speak for the trees. I’m the Larkin; I speak of several trees in this neighborhood that I’ve grown with.

There’s a tree on the corner of Main and Fairview Streets at William Penn school that I helped to plant one year on Arbor Day. It always makes me smile. I enjoy pointing it out to friends. I often wonder who else helped to plant it and what year that was. It had to be between 1972 and 1977.

The foundation of my interest in education research began at William Penn. I was self-aware enough to realize that all the visitors to see our “pods” in one of the two open concept schools were observers and guests. We had peer:peer math and spelling. (I have a whole other story about my a self-diagnosed spelling disability as a result of “ita” and peer:peer spelling.) We were always fortunate to have student teachers from Moravian. I later learned about John Dewey lab schools, so my romanticized version of my elementary years puts William Penn in this category. My actual memories include a brightly decorated space with 70’s color carpet and NO gum chewing. We had wonderful teachers; many of the Gadfly’s sons’ teachers were mine too. There was also Mr. Gary Marsh. He’s the teacher I miss the most.

As a result of walking past Jon Amos Comenius everyday, THE father of education, when it was time for me to become a teacher, my roots brought me back to the neighborhood. The day I made the decision to quit my job, go back to school, and change careers, I made that decision while volunteering at William Penn school. One of my best memories of attending William Penn was seeing the Moravian college student teachers around the neighborhood, because we all lived and walk around here. There are amazing old trees in front of Comenius Hall where we used to play and climb. My roots were becoming branches.

I do not know whether I’m an alum or product, but I’ve done all right at schools in the neighborhood from William Penn to Northeast and then Liberty. I can do a 3-mile loop that I like to call the “Old School” walk from my house. I then went on to Moravian and Lehigh. I’m happy being a teacher today; everyday I learn something.

Martha

Small is beautiful

Black Friday. Gadfly’s email bin is stuffed with invitations to buy.

Black Friday is followed by “Small-Business Saturday.” Well, you can call it “Small Business Saturday,” but the English prof twitches if that hyphen isn’t in there.

shop smallPart of me has always thought of SBS as a clever marketing ploy.

The brainchild of a big business.

But the “Neighborhood” thread that has naturally evolved over the two months of Gadfly life has fostered new eyes.

Even in all the convolutions of the 2 W. Market controversy, there have been several references to the importance of the fairly new Church Street Market to that “neighborhood.”

Gadfly doesn’t know that he needs to be nudged to patronize local small businesses – they are part of the fabric of his life. But it makes sense to take this occasion to appreciate the local SB’s.

Aykroyd’s Hardware jumps to mind. Been around forever. A clerk meets you at the door. Where does that happen? Have you ever drifted around in Lowe’s like one of the Walking Dead like Gadfly has?

Gadfly’s lucky to have two great food places within two blocks – Carl’s Corner and Fratelli’s Pizza. I get “Hey, Mr. G” in one and “Hey, brotha” in the other. Who can resist the hard-working Fratelli family? And Papa Fratelli cutting up melons for the grandkids?

One of the Bethlehem Facebook groups had a nostalgic stream running fairly recently about the disappeared local corner food markets. Sanitary Market was our staple. In a previous residence it was the Linden Market. Linden is still there, and Gadfly held his breath at a recent Planning or Zoning meeting when changes in that property were presented. But it will remain a food market, just enhanced. Phew.

Gadfly is like a kid in a toy store at Abe’s on W. Broad St.

And on and on.

Gadfly believes that most of his followers already recognize the importance of small businesses to our neighborhoods and don’t need a glitzy promotion to prod us to shop there.

But this just might be a good day to at least think for a moment about the value small businesses provide to the quality of our lives — and appreciate.

A Lost Neighborhood (11)

(11th in a series of posts about Lehigh University)

(See also our thread on Neighborhoods)

 Nicole Radzievich, “Bethlehem’s lost neighborhood rebuilt.” Morning Call, May 14, 2015.
Lehigh University, Still Looking for You: A Bethlehem Place + Memory Project
PICTURES: Bethlehem’s lost neighborhood

Good things happen to Gadfly.

He had been researching Mary Pongracz. Reputed to be worthy of charter membership in the Bethlehem Gadfly Hall of Fame.

Gadfly has a department here on the blog called “Gadfly History,” where we will memorialize and immortalize local gadflies. Currently in the department are posts on Stephen Antalics and Bill Scheirer.

Gadfly is looking to do a piece on Mary.

While researching Mary, Gadfly found Nicole’s above-linked article on “Bethlehem’s lost neighborhood.”  It whacked him ‘tween the eyes.

Neighborhoods have been on Gadfly’s mind (we have a thread so-titled and threads on Northside 2027, and the Rose Garden, etc.), and the ominous phrase “Lehigh sprawl” (conjuring up some hydra-headed monster) from the anonymous poster #4 in this series has been pinging just below his consciousness.

Enter “Bethlehem’s lost neighborhood.”

The web site — “Still Looking for You” — is fascinating. Go there!

The “lost neighborhood” is “the solid, working-class neighborhood community that once existed within the borders of Vine and Webster streets and Morton Street and Packer Avenue.” Now Lehigh University campus.

With trembling hand, Gadfly quotes at length from the “Lost Neighborhood” section:

During the 1950s, Bethlehem’s the neighborhood between Packer Ave, Martel, Morton and Webster Streets was a bustling community that was home to local families, small businesses, two schools, and communities of faith, and it surrounded a growing Lehigh University that was contemplating expansion. In the early fifties, Lehigh began its expansion by purchasing land in the neighborhood using “straw buyers”—for example, the secretary at the university’s law firm—to obscure the university’s interest in acquiring land for expansion and keep property-owners from raising prices. Throughout this time period, the federal government’s urban renewal plan encouraged cities to promote development through the acquisition of blighted properties and their subsequent demolition and redevelopment. Urban renewal provided a potential mechanism for university expansion at Lehigh. By the late fifties Lehigh had acquired a critical mass of local properties and the City of Bethlehem agreed to request federal urban renewal funds to acquire the other homes in the neighborhood. Vague federal guidelines required cities to identify targeted areas as “blighted” before they could receive federal money for “slum clearance.” Taking advantage of this vague designation, the city condemned entire blocks by identifying just a few properties on each one as evidence of urban blight. Residents recall that many of the rundown properties had been acquired by the university early on in its expansion planning, and had been neglected, with peeling paint, overgrown weeds and bushes, and broken sidewalks. Homeowners, led by businesswoman and Vine Street resident Anna Pongracz spoke out at City Council meetings and accused the university administration and trustees of deliberately seeking the “blighted designation” for the city blocks needed for campus expansion. As the project unfolded into the early 1960s, some residents fought to save their homes and the neighborhood from acquisition through urban renewal while other property owners were happy to sell their homes. Once houses were condemned and families had moved, demolition workers tore down both run down properties and well-maintained homes, gardens, and yards at a rate of five houses per day.

Is there any wonder that Lehigh’s latest off-campus “moves” are causing community palpitations? Memory glands are twitching.

Let’s keep asking (forcing!) Lehigh to be up-front about what they are doing.

If this memory nugget has anything to do with the parking issue with which this thread started, it is that Lehigh has not always been mindful of lower-class City residents and taxpayers.

A shout-out for this wonderful web site to my former Lehigh colleagues Julia Maserjian, Rob Weidman, Kimberly Carrell-Smith, Scott Gordon, and Vincent Munley.

The Rose Garden in Bloom (1)

(1st in a series of posts on the Rose Garden)

(see the Northside 2027 and Neighborhoods threads as well)

Mount Airy Neighborhood Association

Rose Garden masterplan

Rose Garden Toulouse

Gadfly has been buzzing only for about six weeks now, but one of the topics drawing his interest almost right away is Bethlehem’s neighborhoods.

He said recently that he’s aware that when he thinks of “Bethlehem,” he tends to think of downtown, especially the Northside downtown.

Not fair. Not right.

Lots going on out on the frontier.

Northside 2027. Streetscaping on the Southside. Now Gadfly would like to add the West Side and specifically the Rose Garden to the line-up here.

Back in his first post in the Neighborhood series (Oct. 18), Gadfly lays out the cluster of bullet points that he realized added up to his own awareness of the neighborhood pulses and his own almost subconscious yearnings for a greater feeling of “neighborhoodliness.”

Let me add to that cluster Senator Ben Sasse’s new book Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal.  I didn’t really know Sasse except as an occasional bright, articulate talking head on tv news. Turns out he’s a PhD from Yale. (Ha! Big whoop, some of you will say!) Anyway, he was on the morning news shows pitching the book. And talked about neighborhoods, which piqued my interest, especially with all going on in our town. I’m not far into the book yet, but here’s a few early bullet points:

  • loneliness is killing us
  • there’s a loneliness epidemic
  • people yearn to belong, and when healthy forms of belonging vanish, people will turn to more troubling forms of tribalism (and you all know what he’s talking about!)
  • lots of us miss the “hometown-gym-on-a-Friday-night” feeling

Enter the Rose Garden as a space for healthy forms of belonging.

Take a few minutes to digest Rose Garden Toulouse and the Rose Garden masterplan.

And we’ll come back and talk more later.

(Whom should we be reading about urban quality of life these days? I saw Jane Jacobs’ name on several stickies at Streetscape – she still the guru?)