|Lehigh Valley, PA–NJ MSA
PA–NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metropolitan Statistical Area
Map of the Lehigh Valley
- New Jersey
|• Total||42 sq mi (110 km2)|
|Elevation||2,180 ft (660 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Total||821,623 (2,010 Census)|
|Time zone||ET (UTC−5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC−4)|
The Lehigh Valley (/ /), known officially by the United States Census Bureau and the United States Office of Management and Budget as the Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton, PA–NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area and referred to colloquially as The Valley, is a metropolitan region officially consisting of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties in eastern Pennsylvania and Warren county on the western edge of New Jersey, in the Eastern United States. The Lehigh Valley's largest city, with a population of 120,443, is Allentown.
The Lehigh Valley is the fastest growing and third most populous region in the state of Pennsylvania with a population of 821,623 residents as of the 2010 U.S. Census. It is eclipsed in total population in Pennsylvania only by the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It is the 64th most populated metropolitan area in the United States. Lehigh County, the Valley's largest county in terms of overall population, is among the fastest growing in the nation and, as of 2010-2012, ranks in the 79th percentile for population growth nationally. The core population centers are located in southern and central Lehigh and Northampton counties along U.S. Route 22 and Interstate 78. The Lehigh Valley is proximate to two of the nation's largest cities: New York City, which is about 75 miles to its east, and Philadelphia, which is 50 miles to its southeast.
In March 2014, the Lehigh Valley was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the second-best performing region of its size for economic development in the United States. It was also ranked by Fortune in May 2015 as being among the top 10 best places in the U.S. to locate corporate finance and information technology operations for companies, such as call centers and IT support. Allentown, the region's largest city, was cited as a "national success story" in April 2016 by the Urban Land Institute for its downtown redevelopment and transformation, one of only six communities nationwide to achieve this distinction.
- 1 Historical region
- 2 Cities and location
- 3 Metropolitan and Combined Statistical Areas
- 4 Climate
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Economy
- 7 Media
- 8 Education
- 9 Sports
- 10 Arts
- 11 Recreation
- 12 Transportation
- 13 Telecommunications
- 14 Wine
- 15 Notable people from the Lehigh Valley
- 16 See also
- 17 County statistics
- 18 Notes
- 19 External links
The Lehigh Valley is named for the Lehigh River, which runs through it, and owes much of its development and history to the anthracite supplies, timber, and ores which poured down the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company's (LC&N) Lehigh Canal and railroads LC&N built or encouraged parallel to it. The lower Lehigh Valley is geologically part of the Great Appalachian Valley and is bordered on the north by the mineral-rich Ridge and Valley Appalachians, which define its rugged upper parts from White Haven and west of the Poconos, south through the Lehigh Gorge to the Lehigh Gap near Palmerton. The upper drainage basin contains or shares[lower-alpha 1] nearly half the southeastern Coal Region, which have the richest anthracite deposits in the world, while the lower valley holds valuable limestone, sandstone, and clay deposits. In the charter of March 20, 1818 for the Lehigh Navigation Company, the legislature gave virtual total control to the Canal Company[lower-alpha 2] which it retained until 1964. These transportation improvements overcame the country's first energy crises due to deforestation in the early 19th century. The Canal operated into the Great Depression, feeding ports up and down the Delaware River, the Delaware Canal, and transoceanic demand, and was integral to the regional industrial revolution in the greater Philadelphia-Trenton-Wilmington region. The Morris Canal and the 22–23 miles (35–37 km) coal feeder of the Delaware and Raritan Canal and locks at New Hope on the Delaware Canal were built to fuel the anthracite needs of Newark, Trenton, Jersey City and New York City.
Consequently, culturally and historically, the Valley runs from the drainage divide in the Solomon Gap just north of Mountain Top where coal flowed up the Ashley Planes from the Wyoming Valley coal beds in Luzerne County and across the divide, then downhill to the White Haven, then down through the Lehigh Gorge, past the historic Jim Thorpe terminus of the Summit Hill & Mauch Chunk Railroad (SH&MC)[lower-alpha 3] through historic locks and dams below Jim Thorpe or alongside the canal which fueled the American Industrial Revolution and operated into the Great Depression. The American Canal age had its epicenter at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers where five major canals met major rivers and coastal waterways, and all gave the people and industries of the Lehigh Valley access to minerals and markets via Easton from Connecticut, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Cities and location
The Lehigh Valley's principal cities are Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, making up the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metropolitan area. The traditional bounds of the region are The Poconos to the north, the Delaware River to the east, the boundaries of Berks County and Montgomery County to the southwest, and the boundary with Bucks County to the south. More recently, however, the area around Phillipsburg, New Jersey west of Pohatcong Mountain, parts of upper Bucks County around Quakertown, and portions of northeastern Berks County and southern Carbon and Schuylkill counties in Pennsylvania are considered outer parts of the Valley.
The Lehigh Valley is located approximately 60 mi (97 km) north of Philadelphia, 80 mi (130 km) northeast of Harrisburg, and 90 mi (140 km) west of New York City, the country's largest city. The area is home to more than 820,000 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census. Recent census studies show it to be the fastest growing region in Pennsylvania, due in part to its growing popularity as a bedroom community for the highly populated neighboring regions of Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City as well as its favorable business climate and much lower cost of living in comparison to surrounding areas.
The Lehigh Valley is geologically and geographically part of the Great Appalachian Valley, a region largely made up of limestone that stretches along the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Lehigh Valley is so named because it is composed of an actual valley that lies between two mountain ranges, Blue Mountain to the north and South Mountain to the south. Lehigh Valley also is considered part of the historic Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
Municipalities with more than 10,000 people
Municipalities with fewer than 10,000 people
Census-designated places and villages
Metropolitan and Combined Statistical Areas
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania as the Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. The three counties in the Metropolitan area are Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton. As of the 2010 United States Census the Metro area had a population of 821,173. The Lehigh Valley ranks as the third most populous metropolitan areas in the state of Pennsylvania and ranks 68th most populous in the United States.
The United States Office of Management and Budget also has designated the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania as part of the larger New York metropolitan area. The larger combined area consists of the Lehigh Valley counties of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton as well as Pike County and the Monroe County/East Stroudsburg, PA Metropolitan Statistical Areas in Pennsylvania, and several other Metro areas from the States of New Jersey and New York. As of the 2010 US Census, the population of the CSA was 23,076,664, making it the most populous Combined Statistical Area in the United States.
The Lehigh Valley has four distinct seasons, which typically include humid summers, cold winters, and very short and mild springs and falls.
|Climate data for Allentown, Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley Int'l), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1922–present[lower-alpha 4]|
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Average high °F (°C)||36.0
|Average low °F (°C)||19.5
|Record low °F (°C)||−15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.03
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||10.0
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||11.1||9.8||11.0||12.1||12.1||11.4||10.9||9.5||9.1||9.1||9.8||10.9||126.8|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.6||4.8||2.5||.4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.6||3.5||17.4|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69.1||66.7||62.6||60.9||65.6||67.9||68.8||71.9||74.0||71.8||70.5||71.4||68.4|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1961–1990)|
At the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Lehigh Valley had a population of 808,210. 87.1% of the population were White American, 4.6% were Black or African American, 0.1% were American Indian, 2.3% were Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.1%, 4.3% were of some other race, and 1.5% belonged to two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 11.3% of the population.
The Lehigh Valley has seen an influx of residents coming from New Jersey and New York to take advantage of the reduced cost of living. The population of the area is expected to increase by 227,000 people by 2040.
The most common industries for residents in are area include educational services, construction and health care as of 2009. The Lehigh Valley was recognized by business publication Site Selection Magazine in March 2014 as being the second-best performing region of its size for economic development in the entire United States.
The Lehigh Valley is known historically for its production of steel, Portland cement and apparel. It had served as a major U.S. center of industrial manufacturing since the 1800s but this role had diminished significantly in the late 20th century and early 21st century as companies moved to offshore locations for these activities.
Once a formidable industrial and manufacturing powerhouse serving the entire United States, the nationwide decline of this industry in the late 20th century and early 2000s led the Lehigh Valley to shift its economic focus more towards financial services, health care, life sciences and technology as well as becoming a distribution hub for some of the largest U.S. markets due to its comparatively low cost of living and proximity to some of the nation's largest metropolitan areas.
However, a recent movement to reestablish manufacturing activities in the United States driven by customer demand for American made products, faster product delivery, increased overseas wages, and inflated costs of shipping has led to a sizeable increase in the local manufacturing base and rapidly growing interest in the region. Few other areas in the country are able to offer such comparatively low costs of living and doing business, including low energy costs, tax incentives and overnight distribution access to more than one-third the total population of the United States. Several large manufacturing companies from countries such as China and Germany have already invested tens of millions of dollars into establishing significant operations in the Lehigh Valley with the potential to create thousands of new local jobs in this sector.
As of the 2nd quarter of 2016, the Lehigh Valley's top five employers are: 1.) Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, 2.) St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network, 3.) Amazon.com DEDC LLC, 4.) Air Products & Chemicals, 5.) Lehigh Valley Physician Group.
Business and economic environment
The Lehigh Valley is centrally located in the Northeast Megalopolis with ease of access and close proximity to several of the largest markets, population centers, airports, terminals, railways and seaports in the United States including both the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. The Lehigh Valley is also situated within a one-day drive to more than one third of the total population of the United States and more than one half of the total population of Canada.
The Lehigh Valley has a lower cost of living, more affordable real estate, lower taxes and a more affordable labor pool than most other Northeastern US regions. These attributes and others, such as sizable investments in business development and a friendlier regulatory environment, provide the area with an attractive business climate in comparison to surrounding states and areas.
Due in large part to the aforementioned comparably favorable business climate, the Lehigh Valley has experienced success in luring large, established businesses as well as new startup companies from nearby states such as New York and New Jersey, bringing with them upwards of thousands of new jobs to the area. Large companies such as Amazon.com have praised the region for its commitment to business investments and incentives, citing them as a major reason for continuing expansions and increased hiring in the Lehigh Valley.
Further reaffirming this advantageous business and economic environment, the Lehigh Valley was recognized by business publication Site Selection Magazine in March 2014 as being the second-best performing region of its size for economic development in the United States. It was also ranked by Fortune in May 2015 as being amongst the top 10 best places in the U.S. to locate corporate finance and information technology operations for companies, such as call centers and IT support.
Large national and international companies based in the Lehigh Valley include LSI Corporation (in Allentown), Avantor Performance Materials (Center Valley), Air Products & Chemicals (in Trexlertown), Bethlehem Steel (which ceased operations in 2003, in Bethlehem), Crayola LLC (in Easton), Buckeye Partners (in Emmaus), Heidelberg Cement (in Fogelsville), Just Born (in Bethlehem), Lutron Electronics (in Coopersburg), Mack Trucks (in Allentown), Olympus Corporation USA (in Center Valley), OraSure Technologies (in Behlehem), PPL Corporation (in Allentown), Rodale Press (in Emmaus), Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, Dun & Bradstreet (in Center Valley), Synchronoss Technologies (Bethlehem), Victaulic (in Easton), and many others.
The Norfolk Southern Railway (owned by the Norfolk Southern Corporation), is the Lehigh Valley's major rail operator. Norfolk Southern Railway uses the former Lehigh Valley Railroad's main line, the Lehigh Line and also uses a former Reading Company (Reading Railroad) branch line, the Reading Line. Norfolk Southern Railway has major classification rail yards in Allentown and Bethlehem.
The Lehigh Valley is also one of the largest areas on the East Coast for the location of warehouses and distribution centers. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as the nation's "second Inland Empire" for freight. Companies that own and operate warehouses and distribution centers in the Lehigh Valley include Amazon.com, B. Braun, Boston Beer Company (brewer of Samuel Adams brand beer), BMW, Bridgestone, FedEx SmartPost, Home Depot, J. C. Penney, Nestlé Purina, ShopRite, Stitch Fix, The Coca-Cola Company, True Value, Uline, Zulily, and many others. Most of these distribution centers are located along the U.S. Route 22, Interstate 78 and Interstate 476 corridors.
FedEx Ground has chosen to construct their largest shipping terminal in the country in the Lehigh Valley near the international airport. This new terminal, upon completion, will process up to 75,000 packages per hour and employ hundreds of people. It is anticipated to open in late 2018 at a cost of over $335 million to build.
The Boston Beer Company operates its largest production brewery facility in the Lehigh Valley (in Breinigsville), which produces more than 2/3rds of all Samuel Adams beer in the world. The company continues to upgrade and expand operations at this facility and has cited the location as central to the company's success.
Pennsylvania is ranked 19th in the nation in the production of renewable, notably solar, energy. The Lehigh Valley boasts one of the largest solar panel installations in Pennsylvania and is a leading producer of solar and other renewable energy in the region. As an example, Air Products & Chemicals, in Trexlertown, installed and maintains a 15-acre solar farm which generates more than half the required electricity for their corporate headquarters, saving an estimated $250,000 per year in utility costs. The comparatively large solar industry in the Lehigh Valley is due mostly to a combination of federal, state and local incentive programs which make using renewable energy sources more cost effective than in years past.
The Lehigh Valley is home to many retail establishments. The largest retail area of the Lehigh Valley is the Pennsylvania Route 145/MacArthur Road Corridor, just north of Allentown. It is anchored by the Lehigh Valley Mall and the Whitehall Mall.
Other malls in the region include Palmer Park Mall (in Easton), Phillipsburg Mall (in Phillipsburg, New Jersey), South Mall (in Allentown), and the Westgate Mall (in Bethlehem). In October 2006, a new Valley-based shopping mall, The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, was opened. Located off Route 309 in Upper Saucon Township, The Promenade is roughly half the size of the Lehigh Valley Mall, but features more upscale stores. In 2011, The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem opened at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, becoming the first outlet mall in the Lehigh Valley.
Yocco's Hot Dogs, the regionally-famous fast food establishment known for their hot dogs and cheesesteaks, maintains six locations, all of which are based in the Lehigh Valley. Its original restaurant, founded in 1922, is still located at its original center city Allentown location, on West Liberty Street. Five additional Yocco's locations can be found in the Lehigh Valley (in west-side Allentown, east-side Allentown, Emmaus, Fogelsville, and Wescosville).
The Lehigh Valley is part of the Philadelphia television market, and also receives television stations from New York City and Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Lehigh Valley-based stations include WBPH-TV, an affiliate of FamilyNet, a Christian network licensed to Bethlehem, with studios in Allentown; WFMZ-TV, an independent commercial television station atop South Mountain in Allentown; and WLVT-TV, a PBS station licensed to Allentown with studios in Bethlehem.
The Lehigh Valley is home to over 35 radio stations, spanning multiple formats, including news, talk, and sports, CHR/pop music, country music, National Public Radio, sports radio, oldies, polka, hot adult contemporary, soft rock, classic rock, hard rock, and a variety of college radio stations.
Lehigh Valley-based daily newspapers include the Allentown The Morning Call and the Easton The Express-Times, both with rich traditions dating back to the mid-1800s. The Lehigh Valley also features Lehigh Valley and Pocono Sports Extra (a monthly all sports publication), Lehigh Valley Style (a regional lifestyle publication), Lehigh Valley Magazine (the region's oldest lifestyle publication), Lehigh Valley Exposed (an alternative news and entertainment weekly), and four Spanish language newspapers, Al Dia, El Hispano, El Torero, and La Cronica. Lehigh Valley community publications include The Blue Mountain Town & Country Gazette in the northern part of the Valley.
Colleges and universities
The Lehigh Valley is a center of post-secondary education, with several four-year colleges and universities. These include:
- Cedar Crest College (in Allentown)
- DeSales University (in Center Valley)
- Lafayette College (in Easton)
- Lehigh University (in Bethlehem)
- Moravian College (in Bethlehem)
- Muhlenberg College (in Allentown)
- Penn State Lehigh Valley (in Center Valley)
The Lehigh Valley is also home to three two-year colleges:
- Lehigh Carbon Community College (with campuses in Allentown, Carbon County and Schnecksville)
- Lehigh Valley College (in Allentown) (defunct since 2008)
- Northampton Community College (with campuses in Bethlehem Township and Monroe County)
High school education
As the third most populous metropolitan region in Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley is served by numerous school districts, public and private high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
Lehigh Valley-based high schools include:
The largest Lehigh Valley high schools (12 in all) compete athletically in the East Penn Conference. Smaller Lehigh Valley high schools compete in the Colonial League. In addition to its exceptional high school athletic teams, the Lehigh Valley is known nationally for its excellent math team, the Lehigh Valley Fire. The team won the ARML competition in 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011. They have placed in the top 10 teams nationally every year since 2009.
|Lehigh Valley IronPigs||IL||Baseball||Coca-Cola Park||2008||0|
|Lehigh Valley Phantoms||AHL||Ice hockey||PPL Center||1996||2|
|Bethlehem Steel FC||USL||Soccer||Goodman Stadium||2015||0|
|Lehigh Valley Steelhawks||IFL||Indoor football||PPL Center||2011||0|
|FC Sonic Lehigh Valley||NPSL||Soccer||Ulrich Sports Complex||2009||1 (2012)|
|Lehigh Valley Rollergirls||WFTDA||Roller Derby||Hamburg Field House||2006||0|
From 1996 until 2012, the Lehigh Valley was the home of pre-season training camp for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, which was held each summer on the practice fields of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
The Lehigh Valley Storm, a semi-professional football team, is based in Bethlehem. The Lehigh Valley also is home to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, a Professional Indoor Football League team, which began playing their home games at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem in 2011.
In early 2008, Coca-Cola Park, an 8,100-seat Minor League baseball stadium, opened in east-side Allentown. The stadium hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' AAA-level International League franchise. The team previously played as the Ottawa Lynx (1993–2007). The club's move to the Lehigh Valley brought the franchise closer to Philadelphia and the Phillies' large eastern Pennsylvania fan base. The team's name is a reference to pig iron, a key ingredient in the steel-making process for which the Lehigh Valley area is known worldwide.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for Coca-Cola Park were held September 6, 2006, and construction was completed in December 2007. The stadium hosted its first game on March 30, 2008, when the Phillies major league team faced the IronPigs.
In March 2011, plans were announced for the creation of PPL Center, an 8,500-seat arena to be built in Allentown as the home for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Phantoms began play in Allentown starting with the 2014–15 season. The arena is located in downtown Allentown taking up the entire block between 7th and 8th Streets and Hamilton Boulevard and Linden Street. In a controversial decision, the city had declared eminent domain to help obtain the necessary properties and a contractor was chosen in 2012. Buildings on the site began to be demolished to make room for the new arena in January 2012.
The Lehigh Valley is also home to a strong collegiate football rivalry, between two local colleges: Easton's Lafayette College and Bethlehem's Lehigh University. The two teams have played each other 150 times since 1884, making it the longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football.
High school athletics
The 12 largest high schools in the Lehigh Valley compete athletically in the Lehigh Valley Conference. The conference has produced numerous professional and Olympic-level athletes, and its football, basketball and wrestling teams are often ranked among the best in the nation. In USA Today's annual ranking of the nation's top high school sports teams, Liberty High School was ranked second in the Eastern United States in football in 2008 and 20th among all high schools nationally. Parkland High School was ranked fifth in the East in football in 2002 and 11th among all high schools nationally. And Allentown Central Catholic High School was ranked seventh in girls' basketball in the East in both 2001–02 and 2002–03.
An additional 14 Lehigh Valley high schools too small to compete in the Lehigh Valley Conference compete in the Colonial League.
Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center, which has been the training ground for numerous Olympians and U.S. national gymnastics champions, is based in Allentown. In 2003, CNN aired a documentary on Parkettes, Achieving the Perfect 10, which depicted it as a hugely demanding and competitive training program.
Lehigh Valley Rollergirls (LVRG) is a women's flat track roller derby league based in the Lehigh Valley. Founded in January 2006, Lehigh Valley Rollergirls was the first skater-operated flat track roller derby league in the Lehigh Valley. LVRG is a member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association and competes against national and international teams. It hosts its home matches at Hamburg Field House in Hamburg.
The Lehigh Valley hosts the Lehigh Valley 15K Road Race annually in September. It is one of the premiere eastern Pennsylvania running events.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon, which features a certified marathon, a five-person team relay, a 20-mile (32 km) training run and 5K walk is also held annually in September. The 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) course follows the Lehigh River Canal Towpath from Allentown to Easton. The marathon came under scrutiny in 2015 when Mike Rossi achieved viral fame after allegedly cheating in the marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In response, Via Marathon organizers added timing mats and video surveillance on-course.
Runner's World magazine, which is based out of Emmaus, has held the Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival in Bethlehem every October since 2012.
The Lehigh Valley also plays host to one of the largest cross country events in the nation. Lehigh University's Paul Short Run is held annually at the Goodman Cross Country Course and participation has climbed to over 5,000 runners spread throughout 14 college and high school races. The Emmaus 5K race is held annually in mid-October, coinciding with Emmaus' annual Halloween parade.
The Allentown Art Museum, based in center city Allentown, is the Lehigh Valley's largest museum. The museum's collection includes more than 11,000 works of art. Lehigh University's Zoellner Arts Center and Lafayette College's smaller Williams Center for the Arts host a wide variety of plays, concerts and performances throughout the year.
Bethlehem is also home to ArtsQuest, a non-profit that promotes Visual and Performing Arts in the Lehigh Valley. The ArtsQuest center and Steelstacks campus on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Company have several performing arts venues including the Levitt Pavilion and the Musikfest Cafe. The Banana Factory in Southside Bethlehem has several art studios and galleries open to the public.
Artsquest also hosts Musikfest every year in August. Musikfest is the largest free music festival in the country, bringing more than 1 million people to the region annually.
The Lehigh Valley is home to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, a popular amusement and water park. Located in South Whitehall Township, Dorney Park is known nationally for its elaborate roller coasters and water rides.
The region's ski resorts are Bear Creek Ski and Recreation Area and Blue Mountain Ski Area. Bear Creek is a 21 slope resort located outside of Macungie, Pennsylvania. Blue Mountain is located near Danielsville, Pennsylvania. The Poconos, which feature some of the East Coast's best-known ski resorts, is approximately 30 miles (48 km) north of the Lehigh Valley. Several large lakes used for boating and fishing also are located there. Pocono Raceway in the Poconos holds two NASCAR race weekends a year along with an IndyCar race. The region also hosts some of the best hiking in eastern Pennsylvania, including 30 miles of trails at the Trexler Nature Preserve.
Dutch Springs, the nation's largest SCUBA amusement park, is in Bethlehem and Lower Nazareth Township. Over 40,000 divers annually utilize the facilities, which have sunken "treasures" to enhance the underwater experience. In addition to scuba diving, kayaking and paddle boats are available. The facility has a water park, camping grounds, and picnic areas.
In 2009, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, an $879 million casino, hotel and apartment complex owned by the Las Vegas Sands, opened in Bethlehem, bringing legalized gambling to the Lehigh Valley for the first time. It is one of only 13 authorized gaming sites in Pennsylvania.
Many large festivals are held each year in the Lehigh Valley. Musikfest, a large, 10-day music festival, is held in Bethlehem each August. Mayfair Festival of the Arts, a visual and performing arts festival, is held in the Allentown Fairgrounds each May. In September, one of the largest Celtic heritage festivals in America, The Celtic Classic, is held in Bethlehem. The Great Allentown Fair has been held on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown annually in late August through early September for more than 150 years. Das Awkscht Fescht is an antique car festival that is held annually the beginning of August in Macungie's Memorial Park.
Ice skating (including ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating) is popular in the Lehigh Valley and the region has three facilities. The Steel Ice Center is the premier ice skating facility, in Bethlehem on East 1st Street, not far from the Sands Casino. The Rink, formerly Lehigh Valley Ice Arena, is in Whitehall (north of Allentown) just off MacArthur Road (Route 145) on 7th Street. Each facility has two ice surfaces and public skate times are available at both facilities. The City of Bethlehem also opens a covered outdoor rink (one ice surface) annually from November through March.
The Lehigh Valley is served by air transportation through Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE), in the Lehigh Valley's Hanover Township, three miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown.
The number of people using the airport fell by 24.3% from 723,556 in 2012 to 582,000 in 2014 and the airport had seen declines in passenger usage from the early 2000s when annual traffic twice hit levels above 1,000,000 passengers. It has, however, lately experienced a steady rebound in passenger traffic due to being a preferable alternative to the highly congested airports in Philadelphia and Newark, new improvements to its facilities and amenities, a fast growing regional population, and the addition of new routes. In 2016 it serviced 688,505 passengers, an increase of 2.2% from 2015.
Amazon.com leverages the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) as one of only 11 locations in the country for their Prime Air shipping service. LVIA was one of the first airports selected for the pilot concept of the program due to its close proximity to large population centers, cost effectiveness, robust infrastructure, and comparative ease of use. This location now ships more merchandise, has more flights, and serves more people (over 75 million from Boston to Washington, D.C. as of late 2016) for Amazon than any other facility in the country. Both Amazon and LVIA continue to invest heavily in the local area to better support the ever-increasing demand for air cargo driven in large part by the explosion of e-commerce and the need for faster, more efficient delivery of merchandise.
Due to the same aforementioned reasons for Amazon increasing its operations at the airport, FedEx Ground has selected an area near LVIA to construct its largest terminal in the country. As of 2016, the airport ships more than 126 million pounds of cargo annually with growth of nearly 166% in cargo tonnage shipped between 2015 and 2016 alone. Companies such as Amazon.com and FedEx Ground are increasingly using the airport for these purposes which is a major factor in its growth.
The Valley is also served by Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport, a two-runway general aviation facility located off Allentown's Lehigh Street. Queen City is used predominantly by private aviation. The airport was awarded General Aviation Airport of the year by the Eastern Region of the Federal Aviation Administration in 2006.
Several private bus lines, including Bieber Transportation Group, Fullington Trailways and Trans-Bridge Lines, provide bus service from various Valley locations to New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal, Philadelphia's Greyhound Terminal, Atlantic City's Bus Terminal, and other regional locations.
Passenger service to the Lehigh Valley ceased in 1981 when several rail operators opted to curtail long-distance services. From the south, SEPTA Regional Rail limited their services to their electrified-only territory with trains going only as far north as Lansdale and Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (In the early and mid twentieth century golden age of passenger rail, the Reading Railroad provided rail service south and west of the area.) To the east, the Central Railroad of New Jersey ceased passenger operations into the area, from Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1967 in conjunction with the Aldene Connection.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad, primarily using its main line, served the areas with freight transporting along with the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway and the Lehigh & New England Railroad. In 1974, passenger service was restored to Phillipsburg under state (New Jersey) subsidy. That service was terminated in 1984. All of the original railroads ultimately went bankrupt and were taken over by today's railroads. SEPTA removed the tracks approaching Allentown and Bethlehem from the south. The nearest rail station for travel south towards Philadelphia is in Lansdale, Pennsylvania on SEPTA's Lansdale/Doylestown Line. The nearest station for travel eastward is High Bridge, New Jersey on New Jersey Transit Rail Operations's Raritan Valley Line.
Current operator New Jersey Transit has looked at restoring rail service to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, but there are no official plans to extend service over the border into Pennsylvania at present. Nor are there official plans to restore SEPTA service to Philadelphia. Freight operator Norfolk Southern Railway, heavily serves the region with a major classification yards in Allentown and Bethlehem using the former Lehigh Valley Railroad main line and the former Reading Company branch line, the Lehigh Line and the Reading Line. Canadian Pacific Railway, another freight operator, also transports through the Lehigh Valley using the Lehigh Line and the Reading Line.
In November 2008, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), along with both Lehigh and Northampton Counties, commissioned a study to explore the merits of expanding New Jersey Transit rail to the Lehigh Valley, which would potentially include stops in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. The Lehigh Valley is currently the largest metropolitan area by population on the East Coast of the United States without passenger rail service of any kind. If plan succeeds, the Lehigh Line will then once again host passenger services since 1961.
The Lehigh Valley has four major highways: Interstate 78, a major east-west highway, runs through the southern part of the Valley, duplexed with Pennsylvania Route 309. I-78 runs from Lebanon County in the west, where Interstate 81 provides a connection to Harrisburg, to the Holland Tunnel and New York City in the east.
U.S. Route 22 is a major freeway that runs through the Valley from Kuhnsville in the western part of the Valley to Easton in the eastern part of the Valley. U.S. Route 22 starts in Cincinnati, Ohio in the west, running through the Valley to Newark, New Jersey in the east. A third highway, Pennsylvania Route 33, runs north-south through the Lehigh Valley, from the Poconos in the north to Northampton County in the south.
The fourth major highway in the Valley is Interstate 476, the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It stretches 131 miles (211 km) from Chester in the south to the Scranton–Wilkes Barre area in the north.
Other major roads in the Valley include MacArthur Road (PA 145), a divided local road that leads to the Lehigh Valley Mall and its surrounding commercial district. Cedar Crest Boulevard, a north-south highway, runs from North Whitehall Township in the north through west-side Allentown to Emmaus in the south. Lehigh Street runs from northeast to southwest, originating in downtown Allentown and ending in Emmaus. Tilghman Street runs from Fogelsville in the west to continue as Union Boulevard into Bethlehem in the east. Tilghman Street runs through most of Allentown and also intersects with Cedar Crest Boulevard, Pennsylvania Route 100, Pennsylvania Route 309 and several other major Lehigh Valley highways.
The Lehigh Valley area was once served only by the 215 area code from 1947 (when the North American Numbering Plan of the Bell System went into effect) until 1994. With the region's growing population, however, Lehigh Valley areas were afforded area code 610 in 1994. Today, the Lehigh Valley is covered by 610. An overlay area code, 484, was added to the 610 service area in 1999. A plan to introduce area code 835 as an additional overlay was rescinded in 2001.
The Lehigh Valley AVA was designated an official American Viticultural Area in March, 2008. The wine region includes 230 acres (93 ha) of vineyards, planted to several Vitis vinifera and French-American hybrid grape varieties. Blue Mountain Vineyards in New Tripoli accounts of over 50 acres in the region and has won national and international awards. Fifteen to twenty percent of the wine produced commercially in Pennsylvania is made from grapes grown in the Lehigh Valley AVA.
Notable people from the Lehigh Valley
The Lehigh Valley is the birthplace or home to a number of famous Americans, including:
- Mario Andretti, former professional race car driver.
- Michael Andretti, professional racing team owner, former professional race car driver.
- Chuck Bednarik, former professional football player, Philadelphia Eagles, Pro Football Hall of Fame member.
- Stephen Vincent Benét, author.
- Sabrina Carpenter, actress and singer.
- Leon Carr, Broadway composer and television advertising songwriter.
- Jack Coleman, actor, NBC's Heroes .
- Michaela Conlin, actress, Fox's Bones.
- H.D., writer, poet.
- Jimmy DeGrasso, drummer, Alice Cooper band, former drummer, Megadeth.
- Dane DeHaan, actor, In Treatment and Chronicle.
- Charlie Dent, member of Congress.
- Devon, adult film actress.
- Keith Dorney, former professional football player, Detroit Lions.
- Jonathan Frakes, actor, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Peter Gruner, professional wrestler.
- Mike Hartenstine, former professional football player, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
- Bob Heffner, former professional baseball player, Boston Red Sox, California Angels and Cleveland Indians.
- Tim Heidecker, actor, comedian, co-star, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!.
- Larry Holmes, former boxing heavyweight champion.
- Lee Iacocca, former chairman, Chrysler Corporation.
- Keith Jarrett, jazz musician.
- Michael Johns, health care executive, former White House speechwriter.
- Dwayne Johnson ("The Rock"), actor, former professional wrestler.
- Daniel Dae Kim, actor, ABC's Lost.
- Steve Kimock, rock musician.
- John Kline, member of Congress.
- Brian Knobs, former professional wrestler.
- Dan Koppen, professional football player, Denver Broncos.
- Carson Kressley, fashion consultant, Bravo's Queer Eye.
- Varvara Lepchenko, professional tennis player.
- Jonathan Linton, former professional football player, Buffalo Bills.
- William Marchant, playwright and screenwriter.
- Kristen Maloney, gymnast, former Olympian.
- Ed McCaffrey, former professional football player, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, and San Francisco 49ers.
- Kate Micucci, actress, singer-songwriter
- Matt Millen, former professional football player, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins, former President and General Manager, Detroit Lions and current broadcaster, NFL on Fox.
- Lara Jill Miller, voice actress, Cartoon Network's The Life and Times of Juniper Lee.
- Marty Nothstein, Olympic gold medal winner, track cycling.
- Andre Reed, former professional football player, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins.
- Ian Riccaboni author, sports broadcaster for Phillies Nation TV and Ring of Honor Wrestling
- Daniel Roebuck, actor, ABC's Lost.
- Jimmie Schaffer, former professional baseball player, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.
- Brian Schneider, professional baseball player, Philadelphia Phillies.
- Amanda Seyfried, model and actress, The CW's Veronica Mars and HBO's Big Love.
- Shadow Gallery, progressive metal band
- Sheetal Sheth, actress, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.
- Curt Simmons, former professional baseball player, California Angels, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.
- Dana Snyder, voice actor, Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
- Christine Taylor, actress, wife of actor Ben Stiller.
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas, actor, ABC's Home Improvement.
- Boris Vallejo, artist.
- Bobby Weaver, Olympic gold medal winner, freestyle wrestling.
- Lauren Weisberger, author, The Devil Wears Prada.
- Cindy Werley, former Olympic field hockey player.
- Jordan White, rock musician.
- Dan Yochum, former professional football player, Montreal Alouettes and Edmonton Eskimos.
- David Zippel, Tony-award-winning lyricist, City of Angels.
|Geographic area||July 1, 2005||Census 2000||1990 Census||1980 Census||1970 Census|
|Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton, PA–NJ MSA||790,535||740,395||686,688||635,481||594,382|
|Carbon County, Pennsylvania||61,959||58,802||56,846||53,285||50,573|
|Lehigh County, Pennsylvania||330,433||312,090||291,130||272,349||255,304|
|Northampton County, Pennsylvania||287,767||267,066||247,105||225,418||214,368|
|Warren County, New Jersey||110,376||102,437||91,607||84,429||73,960|
- Technically, the Panther Creek Valley sandwiched between the coal bearing valleys of Broad Mountain/Nesquehoning Creek/Nesquehoning Ridge and Pisgah Ridge/Mauch Chunk Creek is part of the Schuylkill River watershed. However, culturally, highway and railroad connections influenced the LC&N Co. company towns east of Tamaqua and the Little Schuylkill River are strongly tied to the historic Mauch Chunk and the Canal operations of the LC&N Company.
- In the 1840s the LC&N established the railroad subsidiary Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad (LH&S) and had already backed quite a few others, or mining companies with company railroads. About 6 or more of these 'investment railways' were bought out and consolidated, including the Summit Hill and Mauch Chunk Railroad (SH&MC), into the LH&S which became an operating company. In the 1871, the founders having left, the new generation of LC&N management decided to lease the LH&S properties out to the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the CNJ or Jersey Central, which operated them into the 1960s. The CNJ sought and received permission to sell the historic SH&MC to a private operator, who continued to operate it as a tourist railway into the late 1930s. Today, the railroad routes built by the LC&N are still major regional transportation arteries,
- Historians split hairs with weasel words over which railroads were first, second, third, etc. and why... which criteria is more important, such as a charter date, incorporation date, completion date, or operations began date. One option is which became 'common carriers', which limits the early choices to the B&O Railroad, the SH&MC, the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad, the Mohawk and Hudson Rail Road, and the shortline Granite Railroad. The B&O can claim first regular commercial common carrier runs; the SH&MC not only being earlier in actual operation, but also the first to carry passengers (1827) and then paying passengers (1829), all as a subsidiary component to the LC&N. It later began carrying common cargoes and passengers to Summit Hill, at that point a company mining camp. While all three survived into the 1930s, none of the other chartered railroads operated before 1829, only the Granite Railroad of Quincy.
- Official records for Allentown were kept at Allentown Gas Company from March 1922 to December 1943, and at Lehigh Valley Int'l since January 1944. For more information, see ThreadEx.
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- Virtually all the LH&S trackage is managed and operated by either the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad (RBM&N) or Norfolk-Southern Railway and generated rental income for LC&N Co. until the 1960s collapse of many Eastern railways before the CONRAIL consolidation in the 1970s.
- The Lehigh Canal, the Delaware Canal, the Delaware & Raritan Canal, the Delaware and Hudson Canal and the Morris Canal all permitted industrial transport by boat or barge with crossings of or travel along the wide placid Delaware River. The D&H system offered access to the upper Hudson, while two of the New Jersey canals joined Easton to New York Harbor. Coal fired foundries boot strapped the iron needed for railroads, and railroads accelerated movement of people, goods and raw materials.
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- Upper Macungie: Upper Macungue planners OK Ocean Spray plans Morning Call
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- Pennsylvania Solar Solar Energy Industries Association
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- Emmaus 5K
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- Discover Lehigh Valley (Formerly Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau)
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- Beyond Steel: An Archive of Lehigh Valley Industry and Culture
- "Famous People from the Lehigh Valley", The Baltimore Sun
- Lehigh Valley news at The (Allentown) Morning Call newspaper
- Lehigh Valley Online
- Lehigh Valley Alive
- Allentown Alive
- Bethlehem Alive
- Easton Alive
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