Thursday, January 8, 2009

We Like Downtown Allentown

Bill and I like to visit downtown Allentown, especially Hamilton St. and 7th St. We live in N. Allentown not too far from the downtown. Recently I spent some time at 9th and Hamilton during the Chen Arts Show at the Butz Corporate Center. It's a beautiful modern building with a great view of the street. Over 200 people visited the art show during the week it was open. It was an exciting event! There's a cool video at

Here are some of the outstanding downtown places we have visited recently: We like The Brew Works for dinner, House of Chen, The Bay Leaf , and the fab Deli Plaza for lunch and back for dinner sometimes! We have visited the Farr Lofts and they are really cool. We have been to Yodi's art studio on Hamilton. We have been to The Caring Place. Bill's sister owns a store on Hamilton Street. And our wonderful eye doctor Nancy Perez is on Hamilton. We recently sat in the balcony of Symphony Hall for the Lehigh Valley Christmas Show(I know that's off of Hamilton), and we go to the Liberty Bell Museum every year to see "Pip the Mouse." We visited Art and Soul Tattoo Parlor and Gallery, where we ran into Patrick Villa who was attending a skateboarding event. (See photo of me and a sweaty Patrick at the sidebar) The Villas have performed at Croc Rock and the Sterling Hotel. We have visited the Musselman Ctr. for the Arts (Antonio Salemme Foundation gallery), and toured 808 Hamilton, which, hopefully, could turn out to be Allentown's new "Open Space Gallery," which was once housed at 808, wouldn't that be deja vu cool!

Hamilton St. is kinda quiet on weekends and evenings, but 7th St. is really hopping. There seems to be a lot of new small businesses opening on 7th. Gianni had his hair cut at one of the hip barber shops on a Sunday afternoon and boy were those barbers busy! Pete Lewnes's house on 7th is really cool, and his renovations are spectacular. The first Chen Arts Show was held at his house during The Old Allentown House Tour. Mayor Pawlowski spoke at the press conference, and I got to pose for a picture with the mayor! 7th St is very ethnic and vibrant. It's a bit grittier than Hamilton but we love the humanity.

Mohamed at Deli Plaza on Hamilton (a Chen artist), is so friendly and accomodating. And he makes the best soup I have ever tasted. Everything is always fresh and made to order. Jenny and the House of Chen crew are tops, the food is great and their prices are very reasonable. We always enjoy seeing Mike Fegley (Mike used to be our neighbor) at the fab Brew Works. Sure beats the "faux downtowns" at the Promenade or the LV Mall where some people are mad to see ya and have that "get outta the way of my weekend" attitude.

I know that we can't just ignore Allentown's problems: the crime, the gangs, the poverty, and the homelessness. I taught in the ASD so I have seen children growing up in poverty. But I think if people from suburbia and the west end would visit downtown regularly, get to know some of the business owners, and the people who now live there, then their perception of downtown Allentown would change. I am hopeful that our downtown will continue to improve. I hope more events, like The Chen Arts Group Show "Momentum" can be held there. I was disappointed in the lights on the Christmas tree at PPL Plaza. I think they could have been much more spectacular. So let's light up the downtown with people!