What You Need to Know Before Moving to Allentown
Romance, music, art, and culture might not be the first things you think of when you first start to picture Allentown, Pennsylvania. Allentown is more frequently known as an industrial center, with international corporate centers located here. But dig a little deeper and you will quickly find that Allentown offers much more than meets the eye at first glance.
The largest metropolitan city in the Lehigh Valley area, Allentown was one of just six areas across the entire nation to be deemed an official “national success story”. The Urban Land Institute recognized Allentown’s burgeoning downtown development projects and regenerated downtown landscape. Allentown now attracts families, singles, and students alike to its quickly growing cultural and economic downtown hub. In fact, Allentown is the fastest-growing city in all of Pennsylvania.
So if you are considering making the move to A-Town, what kinds of things might you need to know about this special city beforehand? Let’s take a look at four interesting things to keep in mind before you move to Allentown.
1. A-Town in Pop Culture
In the early 1980s, famous pop and rock singer Billy Joel strums a guitar and struts through city streets as he sings about a city that stands as a symbol for the resilience, grit, and determination of working-class Americans. Which city is it that features in his hit song? Allentown, of course.
Besides the Billy Joel song that highlights Allentown, the city has quietly and humbly been contributing to national and international culture for decades. Huge Broadway musicals like 42nd Street and Bye Bye Birdie reference Allentown in song lyrics and scenes from the recent film Glass were filmed all over the city. And to continue the musical theme, one of the stars of the film Mamma Mia!- namely, Amanda Seyfried- grew up in Allentown. So did comedian Tim Heidecker, jazz musician Keith Jarrett, and actress Christine Taylor. So living in Allentown can be a great source of inspiration.
2. Transportation Options
Allentown offers plenty of easy options for getting around, so commutes, city breaks, and urban explorations are all straightforward, whether or not you will have a car in the city.
Run by the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, the LANTA bus service provides ample routes throughout the city and the buses run frequently. For city breaks or weekends away, you can book a ride on the private bus lines like the Trans-Bridge Lines or Bieber Tourways. Both of these companies offer convenient bus rides straight to Philadelphia, Reading, and New York City.
For traveling abroad or across the country, you can easily access the Philadelphia International Airport, only an hour’s drive southeast of Allentown. Or hop on a plane from the local Lehigh Valley International Airport.
While Allentown was once a major passenger rail hub, train enthusiasts may be disappointed to learn that train travel to and from Allentown is now limited to commercial freight operations. (But if you, like us, are planes, trains, and automobiles enthusiast, you can still nerd out about the history of American transportation when you visit America on Wheels Museum. There you can check out originals like a Model T Ford Roadster, a 1943 Schwinn Bike, and original Mack trucks.)
3. A Good Town for Families
Some of the nicest areas to live in The Queen City are the suburbs outside of downtown, making Allentown well-suited for new families. One of Allentown’s boroughs, Macungie, was founded way back in 1776, so it is not only a lovely and quiet place to live, but it has historical origins as well.
Walnutport and Quakertown are also desirable areas for families to live in, with several public and private school options within a short distance. These areas are great for remote employees or work from home parents, who will benefit from the reliable local high-speed broadband service- also a helpful feature for students who are busy with remote learning. Quiet and safe suburbs, Walnutport and Quakertown are still quite close to all the main attractions of downtown. Other prime areas include the Old Allentown Historic District or the West Park Historic District, where you can live in a beautiful old Victorian or Colonial Revival home.
Plus, Allentown offers plenty of family-friendly activities and sources of entertainment all year round. The interactive displays at the Da Vinci Science Center, the summer movies in the park at West Park, and the Great Allentown Fair are just some of the activities that are great for kids and parents alike.
4. City of History
From its origins as a land inhabited by Native Americans through its role in the British invasion and its German origins, Allentown is steeped in fascinating local and national history, all of which you can learn about in the many museums here. The Liberty Bell Museum tells the story of how the Liberty Bell was smuggled into Allentown so it would not be taken and destroyed by the imminent invasion of the British army.
For a deep dive into local history, the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum houses an impressive archive of local history, including over 80,000 photographs, more than 35,000 historical objects, and artifacts, and more than three million archived documents. And for an important learning experience, you can visit the Museum of Indian Culture, where the culture and history of the local Native Americans are displayed and explained in family-friendly interactive programs and exhibitions.
If you want to taste your way through another aspect of Allentown’s history, you can taste German specialties like apple butter, coleslaw, and scrapple at A-town’s local restaurants and at the annual fair. The early settlers in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley territory were mostly German laborers seeking opportunity and religious refuge. These foods, still popular throughout the city today, reflect the lasting influence of these early settlers.
Full of Opportunities in Allentown
With its thriving industrial core, its rapid financial growth, and its urban redevelopment plans, now is an exciting time to move to Allentown. For families or singles, there is so much to discover and experience in Allentown. Look for a neighborhood that suits your needs and enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors that are unique to this region as you settle into your new life in Allentown.