Monday, February 18, 2013

Allentown Chamber of Commerce - February Letter from the President

This article originally appeared in the February issue of The Chamber's monthly publication, Connections. Written by:
Bob Buck
Buckno, Lisicky & Company
Allentown Chamber President
610-821-8580 •

Can we really handle the change? Downtown Allentown will be a vastly different place in a few years. I recently found a poster from years back, depicting various cultural and commercial highlights of our city. It brought back nostalgia for a time when the center of the city was a very much a sought after destination. About the same time, I also found an old board game (remember those?) called “All About Allentown.” I instantly recalled having to navigate the multitude of one-way streets and having loop ‘round and ‘round to get from Zollinger’s to the First National Bank, then from Leh’s over to Hess’s as my pretend car traveled downtown.

Today, very few of those highlights remain. There is PPL (or PP&L!), of course, the soldiers and sailors monument, the Liberty Bell Shrine at Zion’s  Reformed Church, Allentown Art Museum and Symphony Hall, and not much else. As I talk to many in the business community about the excitement of crowds and increased traffic soon returning to downtown, there is much trepidation and concern as to traffic flow and parking. Well, let’s look a little closer at that old poster and game.

There are all of those two, three, and even four lane one-way streets - very annoying for a kid’s board game - but very efficient for moving large amounts of traffic. Coupled with the new American Parkway Bridge, entry and egress should be a breeze. And although the gleaming Hess’s department store no longer remains, that unusual snail-shell object attached to it surely does. That’s the parking deck with its 700-plus spaces which combined with newly erected parking as well as existing decks at the transportation and government center to provide a glut of available parking for the new offices, residential units and arena.

How easy it is to forget the large amounts of people working and shopping in center city just a short time ago. Maybe the glamour of a world-class department store is gone, but the hold-overs from the city’s past glory days remain, and we’ll soon welcome many new visitors into Allentown. These are the good old days!

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