You Know You’re From the Lehigh Valley If…

You Know You’re From the Lehigh Valley If…

The Lehigh Valley is replete with history, culture, and long-standing traditions. For those of us who have resided here the majority of our lives, many of these things are more than just places or events—they are an essential part of who we are as people and a community.

In celebration of our local history and culture, we’ve compiled a short list of “ways to know if you’re from the Lehigh Valley.” We hope you’ll take a read through and see what rings true for you and your family.

Without further ado, you know you’re from the Lehigh Valley if…

You own at least one Moravian Star.

There is perhaps no more ubiquitous symbol for the Valley’s Moravian heritage than this beautiful celestial image. Although they are perhaps most popular during the holiday season, many Valley residents—particularly those living in historic Bethlehem and Nazareth—display their Moravian stars year-round.

Someone in your family worked for Bethlehem Steel at one time.

For much of the 20th Century, Bethlehem Steel played an integral part in national affairs. Its furnaces churned out the warships and armaments that helped win World War I and II, the beams that built skyscrapers like New York’s Woolworth Building, and the structural steel that supported critical infrastructure such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

You remember watching the very first headliner at Musikfest.

Today, the annual Musikfest celebration attracts more than one million people. On average, these guests come from 40 different states and more than 10 different nations. But back in 1984, only about 182,000 people attended the first Musikfest—and the vast majority of them hailed from the Lehigh Valley. Do you remember who the first headliner was? Here’s a hint: the singer-songwriter is best known for his ballad “American Pie.”

You’re not that into music, but you know all about Martin Guitar.

Founded in the early 1830s, C. F. Martin & Co. is a world-renowned maker of high-quality stringed instruments. Over the years, legendary artists such as Eric Clapton, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and Eddie Vedder have all famously performed with Martin guitars.

But while a knowledge of “celebrity” instruments is usually only reserved for those with a special interest in music, you don’t have to be plugged in to pop culture to know about Martin guitars. Most of the area’s long-term residents are very familiar with the Nazareth-based company and view C. F. Martin & Co. as a longstanding icon of the Lehigh Valley.

You’ve never had a shopping experience that even remotely compares to the Hess’s department store on Hamilton Street.

If you lived in the Lehigh Valley before the early 1990s, chances are you took at least one shopping trip to the Hess’s department store in Allentown. With approximately 410,000 square feet of merchandise space, it was a veritable “retail heaven” designed to make shoppers feel as if they had been magically transported into the heart of Fifth Avenue. Celebrities such as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Sonny and Cher, and Johnny Carson promoted the store’s annual flower show each spring. During the holiday season, Hess’s Christmas displays, toy exhibitions, and children’s programs like “Pip the Mouse” drew visitors from up and down the East Coast. When shoppers needed a break from browsing the seemingly endless selections of high-end goods, a stop by the store’s signature Patio Restaurant—where Hess’s models would display the latest high-end fashions—was the perfect treat. Indeed, a trip to Hess’s was an experience few could forget. Check your basement or attic to see if you still have a gift box with their signature red, green, and blue writing. We’re sure it will bring back some wonderful memories. 

You know the Yocco’s theme song by heart.

For nearly 100 years, Lehigh Valley residents have been enjoying Yocco’s signature “dogs” and “Secret Sauce.” But if you’re a true Valley native, the food is only part of Yocco’s appeal. The company’s catchy theme song is practically impossible to forget. (Go ahead and sing the jingle—we know the tune is running through your head right now!)

You remember when Sunday races at the Nazareth Speedway were a major attraction.

The Nazareth Speedway may have closed more than a decade ago, but in its heyday, it was a major Lehigh Valley attraction. Fans flocked from up and down the East Coast to watch drivers including Mario and Michael Andretti, Al Unser, Bobby Rahal, Matt Kenseth, Elliot Sadler, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. compete. The races at Nazareth were so popular that in the late 1990s, celebrities such as Donald Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and actor Tim Allen (who was starring in the highly popular “Home Improvement” television series at the time) even attended. Maybe you remember seeing them?

Billy Joel’s song “Allentown” holds special significance for you.

Released as the lead song on his 1982 album “The Nylon Curtain,” Billy Joel’s song about the decline of the steel industry was quickly embraced as somewhat of a national anthem for working class people throughout America. Today, the song still holds special meaning for anyone who lived in the Lehigh Valley and experienced the decline firsthand.

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