Whitehall Township, just north of Allentown, is a study in contrasts: of old and new, historical sites and high-tech commerce, agriculture and industry. The township boasts of producing several professional athletes, including NFL linebacker Matt Millen and Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Simmons; played a crucial role in the state’s settlement by Europeans; is home to one of the most important building materials in the nation; and is a technology and retail hub for the entire Lehigh Valley. Not bad for a 13-square-mile patch of land that now holds about 25,000 residents.

Whitehall Township, not to be confused with the separate North Whitehall or South Whitehall townships, is roughly rectangular in shape, and is located in eastern Lehigh County and bordered to the east by the Lehigh River. The main thoroughfare is MacArthur Road (PA 145), which interchanges with US 22 within the township. The township’s other villages include Cementon, Egypt, Fullerton, Hokendauqua, Mickleys, North Coplay, Scherersville, Stiles, and West Catasauqua.


Long before Whitehall was settled by Europeans and became a township, the Lenni Lenape, a peaceful people, raised their families there. In September 1737, in accordance with the Walking Purchase, the Indians agreed to allow Europeans to live on as much land as could be walked in a day and a half. Instead, three runners were solicited. Two of the three competitors rested near Hokendauqua (Lenape words believed to mean “searching for land”), at the end of the first day. Only one—Edward Marshall—finished the “walk” in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County, the next day, 65 miles from the starting point.

What made this area so desirable to the Europeans? Its natural resources. Whitehall, named for a whitewashed hunting lodge along the Jordan Creek, was flush with resources including elk and roughed grouse, trout, and a multitude of nutritious native plants such as corn and squash. Immediately after the area was settled, the Lehigh Valley became known for its iron ore deposits, which were floated down the Delaware River using Durham boats (the same Pennsylvania invention that transported Washington’s troops across the Delaware, enabling him to win the Battle of Trenton on Christmas Day, 1776). Later, the Lehigh and Delaware canals, which were completed in the 1820s, aided in this effort. In Whitehall, the first Whitehall-area blast iron furnace was built in 1854, followed by a railroad system and more immigrants to transport the ore and iron products.

In nearby Coplay, which was once part of Whitehall Township but is now its own borough, David O. Saylor and his business partners opened the Coplay Cement Company in 1867 and patented the process for making Portland cement. Until 1885 the company was the sole maker of Portland cement and some reports say the Lehigh Valley was responsible for 70 percent of all cement production in the nation. The cement industry spurred much growth in the area, including railroads to transport freight as well as bring new residents to the Lehigh Valley, and small businesses to meet the needs of the growing community. Today the Essroc Company owns Coplay Cement and still produces Portland cement. Some of the vertical kilns still stand in Coplay, where a museum is run in observance of this industrial icon.

Following the national post World War II trend, suburban expansion began in Whitehall.  Whitehall’s vast farmland and close proximity to the City of Allentown made the township a natural location for housing developments.  The household growth required local businesses to conveniently support the new residents and in the late 1940s and early 1950s businesses began to spring up along MacArthur Road.  Early establishments included Kleckner & Sons, Wolf’s Orchards, Nestor’s Sporting Goods and Two Guys.  In the spring of 1965, ground was broken for the Whitehall Mall, which opened in September of 1966 with anchor stores of Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Zollinger’s.  During this era, MacArthur Road was dubbed “The Golden Strip of the Lehigh Valley.”  Ten years later, in October of 1976, the Lehigh Valley Mall opened.  MacArthur Road remains “The Golden Strip” today lined with grocery stores, furniture outlets, car dealerships and more, linking most of the other villages in the township.

“The people and business owners in Whitehall Township are the best,” says Mayor Edward Hozza. “We are hard-working and take pride in our properties and businesses. We respect our past dating back to the 1730s with our historical society, we cherish the present, and we look forward to our future.”

Eat & Drink

Mile for mile, Whitehall probably has more eateries than any other municipality in the Lehigh Valley. Between the offerings at the malls, on MacArthur Road and Grape Street, Whitehall is the Valley’s “restaurant row.” There is fast food (McDonald’s, Boston Market, Taco Bell), national chains (Chili’s, Olive Garden, Red Lobster), 24-hour diners (Whitehall Diner), family-style sit-downs (Buca di Beppo), casual pub grub (Keystone Pub) and all-you-can-eat Shangri-la (Old Country Buffet, Sakura Chinese Buffet, and the upcoming Golden Corral). No one should leave town hungry.


For many, shopping is synonymous with Whitehall. There are many retail opportunities in Whitehall along Route 145, including the Lehigh Valley Mall which is the largest indoor shopping mall in the region. Conveniently located at the junction of Routes 145 and 22, the Lehigh Valley Mall opened in 1976 and is currently anchored by three department stores: JCPenney, Macy’s and Boscov’s. In 2007, an 110,000-square-foot “outdoor lifestyle center” targeted an upscale market with the addition of stores such as Pottery Barn, Coach and Ann Taylor.

According to Amanda M. Johnson, Director of Mall Marketing and Business Development, “To engage the public, all of our mall events are announced on our website (www.simon.com) and our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/lehighvalleyshop). Shoppers can be added to our Mall Insider program to receive updates on new store openings and events by visiting the website and clicking on the ‘Mall Insider’ link.” The Lehigh Valley Mall is open 7 days a week.

See & Do

Whitehall was an attractive area for European, particularly German, settlers during the colonial era, partly due to the acres of old-growth hardwood forests and rich soil. With farming came grist mills, a number of which operated in Whitehall Township to process corn and grain into flour and animal feed. The Helfrich Springs Grist Mill, built in 1807, is the only remaining mill, and it is the home of the Whitehall Historical Preservation Society and serves as a local history museum. Helfrich Springs Grist Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.

After the iron industry and the railroad closed, the former railroad beds were transformed into scenic walking trails. Whitehall Township has three scenic trails, including the Ironton Rail Trail (IRT). Now owned by Conrail, the trail follows the Ironton Railroad, built in 1860 to link the iron ore mines and to transport coal and limestone. Today it is a nine-mile recreation trail along the Whitehall Parkway, where the Coplay Creek empties into the Lehigh River. Bike riders, runners and walkers can regularly be found enjoying the IRT, which is often the host location for organized events.

Whitehall Township
Edward Hozza, Jr., Mayor

Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce

Ironton Rail Trail

Lehigh Valley Mall

Whitehall Historical Society

 Photos by Megan Corcoran

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