Ten Things I Love about Bethlehem PA

My moving preparations are almost finished, and soon I leave for my new home in Providence RI.  Despite my eager anticipation of new adventures, my thoughts keep returning to Bethlehem PA.  It has been my home for 26 years, and was a great place to raise a family, grow a small business, and find good friends.

Here are ten things that I may have loved the most about “o little town”:

Old Chapel at Central Moravian Church
Old Chapel at Central Moravian Church

When I go downtown to shop or meet friends for lunch, I like to park near the library on Church Street, then cut through the Central Moravian Church campus on my way to Main Street.  I usually pause for a moment or two to look at the Old Chapel, which seems to sit contentedly, enjoying its long retirement since 1806 when the “new” Sanctuary was built.

New Street, Bethlehem PA
New Street, Bethlehem PA

The downtown historic district is a visual delight of beautifully preserved homes, diverse in style, size and level of elegance.  From the grandest Georgian estate to the smallest carriage house, homes on every block have welcoming doorways, gently aged or tastefully aging exteriors, and pops of colorful paint and flowers.  All changes to exteriors in the Bethlehem Historic District must be approved by the city’s Architectural Review Board, which causes some grumbling now and then. But the neighborhood’s charm is thus preserved, enchanting all who visit.

Me at the art show with my personal framer and booth erector
Me at the art show with my personal framer and booth erector

In May on Mother’s Day weekend, the annual Fine Art & Craft Show takes over Main Street.  Artists’ booths fill both sides of the street from the Brew Works to the Moravian Bookshop.  An artist-in-residence, roving musicians, and a children’s art area add to the ambience.  That sounds suspiciously like marketing-speak.   And it is!  I served happily on the art show committee for ten years, and even showed my photography at the show for a couple of those years.

Tree sculptures at Lehigh Fields
Tree sculptures at Lehigh Fields

Public art everywhere!  You cannot drive or walk far in this town without seeing a a sculpture or two, and perhaps a mural.

Steel-Stacks-collage
Some views of the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem

Bethlehem’s own “high line”, the Hoover Mason Trestle, offers closeup views of the preserved Bethlehem Steel stacks and other remnants of the town’s industrial heritage.  The abstract patterns of weathered brick and rusted metal, colorful layers of peeling paint, and broken windows are simply gorgeous:  a photographer’s dream.

Kwanzan cherry blossoms
Kwanzan cherry blossoms

Springtime and its intoxicating cocktail of blossoms on cherry trees, dogwoods, rhododendrons, and Japanese magnolias.

Small but enthusiastic contingent of BCEP at the Heart Walk
Small but enthusiastic contingent of BCEP at the Heart Walk

Convivial gatherings with other local alums in the Brown Club of Eastern PA.  The college fight song was right: ‘We are ever true to Brown, and We love our college dear … and something something beer.’

Saucon Creek
Saucon Creek

A ramble through Saucon Park on a misty morning, before the picnickers converge.

Looking up at the Alumni Memorial Building at Lehigh University
Looking up at the Alumni Memorial Building at Lehigh University

On warm summer evenings, Jeff and I like to get an ice cream cone at The Cup and meander around the campus of Lehigh University.  We admire the splendid landscaping and the Gothic style buildings, and luxuriate in the quiet unique to a college campus when the students are away.

Salsa dancing and uke jamming in the garden
Salsa dancing and uke jamming in the garden

At the Sculpture Garden concert series, I’ve heard some good music, attempted to learn salsa dance and contra dance moves, and even jammed with other audience members and the band on my ukulele.  It’s one place where my enthusiasm for trying something new was not dampened by my lack of talent.  (A big shout-out here to the plucky Elaine D!  There can be no truer friend than one who will play the ukulele in public with me.)

The list could go on but I’ll stop here.  Another day I may remember white lights and candles in winter windows, or sweet summer grass smells and bicycle bells on the towpath.  Or handsome policemen on horseback, oh my!

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