February 2015 Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

Having been born and raised in Allentown, I can vividly recall shopping at Hess’s – the crown jewel of a bustling business and shopping district. And, long before Zappos entered my world, I shopped at Farr’s – THE place for shoes with THE best shoe repair shop on the east coast. (Okay, I’m a little biased because the cobbler was my grandfather, Louis Spagnoletti.) But seriously, ask anyone who lived in the heyday of Allentown and they will surely agree with me. Downtown Allentown was the place to be.

Unfortunately the tables turned on downtown Allentown and most of my adult memories of the area consist of a city facing a sad, economic struggle. Truth be told, Allentown suffered for decades due in part to the demise of the retail sector (Hess’s was forced to close its doors in 1996), suburban sprawl, and the closing of many large area employers.

Fast forward to 2011, Allentown was once again a city on the move. City Center Lehigh Valley (a real estate development company) began the transformation of a downtrodden downtown into a vibrant urban community and, according to its website, a “local hub for culture, business and metropolitan living.”

Now, Allentown is in the midst of a major revival. At the heart of which was the grand opening of the PPL Center at Seventh and Hamilton Streets this past September. With space for up to 10,500 people, and featuring amenities such as 26 luxury suites, a club seating area, two bars and a high-definition jumbotron, the $177-million-dollar arena marked a major milestone in the city’s redevelopment effort.

As the home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms the arena hosts approximately 40 ice hockey games per year, as well as a variety of other events such as collegiate basketball games, musical performances by top artists like The Eagles, Tom Petty and Neil Diamond, and family  attractions such as “Disney on Ice” and “Monster Jam.” Later this year, The PPL Center will also become the new home of the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks – the Valley’s indoor professional football team.

If you haven’t visited Allentown’s downtown district, you are missing out. Make a reservation for dinner, take in a show, see a game or just cruise through. Quite honestly, you will be blown away.


Amy Hines

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