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Remember: WPA Projects in Monocacy Park and Saucon Park

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WPA Projects in Monocacy Park and Saucon Park

Trying to find any sort of legitimate written information about the WPA projects that took place in the Lehigh Valley is like trying to find a needle in the largest haystack ever built. Despite the fact that our park system would not exist without the WPA initiatives, little to no information is readily available about it. The WPA took what was a fifty year plan to build a park system in Allentown and did it in two. The reminders of their efforts are very present at nearly every one of our city parks.

It is with no surprise then that on an afternoon venture to Bethlehem I found parks that were WPA created as well. I’ll start by mentioning Monocacy Creek Park. The stone WPA walls are the defining visual characteristic of this park. Down by the waterfall, there is a bench that actually has WPA 1937 on it, in stone:

It is to my understanding, that this was at one point a water works for Bethlehem. I have also heard that the walls were created by tearing down a tannery and reusing the stone much like the way the lime kilns were taken down to create the entrance walls and staircase at the Parkway. I know that for a fact about the Parkway, but the rest about Monocacy was told to me and I have no proof. Perhaps the Bethlehem Public Library has better resources than the ones in Allentown; I have not yet tried to find out.

Down in Saucon Park, the same WPA pavilions and stone structures are present. Here, there are WPA constructions all over the place. Some in better shape than others.

There is also a strange channel of water that comes pouring in from a drainage pipe with two bridges and odd concrete blocks in the channel:

I have never seen a construction like the one in Saucon Park. I have no idea what it was but I do know that it was WPA. So, two more parks created by the WPA and I still cannot get any information. I will journey to the Bethlehem Public Library next week to see if I can dig anything up. It is my hope that with this post someone from Bethlehem might be able to point me in the right direction. I imagine that any record of WPA projects in the Valley will finally get me some documentation on what went down in Allentown back then. I know they did a lot, I know most of what they did, I would like to see some solid written explanations. If you haven’t seen these WPA creations in Bethlehem go check them out, but don’t forget: The Parkway, Muhlenberg Lake, Fountain Park, Jordan Park, Irving Park, etc…

Also, this just seemed sad:

See Also:
Irving Park
Jordan Park
Lehigh Parkway
Muhlenberg Lake
Fountain Park


Blogger michael molovinsky said...

andrew,could the water coming out of that pipe not be drainage,but a spring as in lehigh parkway? i believe you will find very little to nothing about the wpa projects written. the constructions were documented by photographers, also part of the wpa. i obtained a construction photo of the post office,(also wpa project) which was posted on my blog last year.

August 25, 2009 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...


That might be a spring. There is definitely another spring a little farther up from that pipe where the WPA walls have all but fallen in.

The pictures at the Historical Library in Allentown are fantastic but after going through them, I can discovered some were mislabeled and the dates were off. They are however, the best resource I have found to date on the actual projects while they were happening. The pictures from the Parkway, right after the entrance way and stairs were completed were crazy to see because of the lack of trees.

August 25, 2009 at 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Mark A. said...

the raceway in Saucon Park is fed by a Natural Spring. That raceway was onces used as a fish hatchery. there may be more info at the Bethlehem Room in the Bethlehem Public Library

September 2, 2009 at 9:57 AM  

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