Lower Macungie Township

Lower Macungie Township

A suburb of Allentown, Lower Macungie Township is one of the largest municipalities in the Lehigh Valley today.

Originally inhabited by Lenni Lenape tribes, the name “Macungie” comes from the Native American word meaning “bear swamp” or “place of the bear”. While many historians attributed this name to the animal’s local abundance, several researchers recently discovered a plethora of Native American bear figurines and artifacts in the area, including a massive stone effigy carved into the southeastern mountains of nearby Longswamp Township. Based upon these findings, and the fact that the bear played a prominent role in Lenni Lenape culture and customs, these researchers now suggest the name was actually chosen because the land was once used as a ritualistic gathering place.

In the early 18th Century, an influx of European settlers began to gradually displace the Native American tribes. Clearing the land of trees and underbrush, these immigrants – many of whom were of German descent – established large farms and homesteads. The area’s rich, fertile land helped them thrive over the next several decades, and by 1743 – the year Macungie Township was officially chartered – the population had grown to approximately 650 people. Today, the many historic stone farmhouses and large bank barns that still dot the township’s landscape are a visible reminder of this period.

Although the local economy continued to center around agriculture and raising livestock, by the early 19th Century a number of gristmills, saw mills, smitheries and distilleries also operated in the township. As the population continued to grow (reaching just over 2,400 residents by 1810), the number and variety of occupations rose accordingly. Small businesses such as weavers, shoemakers, potteries, tanneries and saddlers employed hundreds of Macungie residents both inside and outside the township limits. This rapid growth eventually resulted in Macungie being split into an Upper and Lower township in the spring of 1832.


The following decade, Lower Macungie’s economic landscape underwent a drastic transformation. As the Lehigh Valley emerged as one of Pennsylvania’s leading producers of iron, many of the township’s vast, rolling farms were opened or mining.

By 1860, there were approximately 16 iron mines in Lower Macungie Township. Within just a few more years, that number rose to a staggering 76 mines – almost one-third of the total iron mines in all of Lehigh County. In most instances, larger iron companies or their agents leased these mines from the local farmers, and then transported the raw iron ore to furnaces in nearby Alburtis, Emmaus and Catasauqua.

Looking back on this “golden age” of iron mining, one Macungie resident described it by saying, “It seemed as if almost everybody who owned a tract of land, however small, had been seized with the mining fever. Leases were made, shafts sunk, and the ‘hidden treasure’ sought for everywhere… Although many beautiful farms were laid waste, the owners thereof reaped a rich harvest in the shape of royalties, and considered themselves amply compensated for the unsightly gaps made in their land…”

Unfortunately, this exceptionally prosperous era was met with a sudden and drastic decline. A financial crisis known as the “Panic of 1873” temporarily crippled the United States’ national economy and caused a widespread depression. Like much of the country, Lower Macungie was hit hard, and almost all of the township’s mines were eventually forced to shut down.

Today, Lower Macungie Township is home to just over 30,000 residents and is one of the fastest growing residential areas in the Lehigh Valley.

Thanks to its attractive communities and developments, it is often considered one of the Lehigh Valley’s most desirable places to live and raise a family.


Places to Eat

Savory Grille

Housed in the historic Seisholtzville Hotel at 2934 Seisholtzville Road, the Savory Grille’s menu features delectable takes on French, Mediterranean, Southwestern, African and Asian cuisines. Open Wednesday through Sunday, reservations can be made by calling 610.845.2010.

Hunan Springs

If you love authentic Asian food try Hunan Springs, located at Hamilton Blvd and Brookside Road, for a mix of Chinese and Thai cuisine from the Pacific Asian Rim. In addition to steadfast Chinese restaurant favorites, Hunan Springs’ menu features steamed whole duck, steamed whole fish, Pork Taro Root and Dried Bean curd Dishes.

Gio Italian Grill

Prior to opening Gio Italian Grill, owner Tony DiMaio worked in an historic restaurant in Sicily, where he sought out many unique recipes. These sumptuous flavors are now evident in many of Gio’s dishes. Stop by at 6465 Village Lane/Rt 100 for a complete Mediterranean experience in the heart of Lower Macungie Township.


Things To Do

Lower Macungie Township Parks

Open 8am to sunset every day, Lower Macungie’s public parks offer a wide variety of trails, sports facilities, pavilions and other amenities. Children and adult programs are also available throughout the year. Visit lowermac.com for a list of activities and prices for residents and nonresidents.

Lock Ridge Furnace Museum and Park

Located nearby, off Franklin Street in Alburtis Borough, this 59-acre park is home to the historic Lock Ridge Iron Furnaces – one of the many iron-producing plants that once dominated the Lehigh Valley’s industrial landscape. Operated by the Lehigh County Historical Society, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the original cast house, the rebuilt furnace room and the engine house. Guided tours are also available every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm in May through September.

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