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All Site Hours The Artful Evolution of Bethlehem, PA

April 19th, 2019 |

Growing up on the fringe of Buffalo’s media market meant hearing the names of people and places that helped define the city in the ’60s and ’70s: Chippewa Street, Shane Brother Shane, Rocketship 7, and, of course, Bethlehem Steel.

Too young to associate “Bethlehem” with anything beyond the Christmas story, it was years before I realized what it was, and even longer before I visited Bethlehem—Pennsylvania’s “Christmas City,” where the nation’s second-largest steel company was founded. These days, it’s nothing short of amazing to see the ongoing efforts that have prevented the community from petering out with the plant’s last blast furnace in 1995.

Thanks to seemingly boundless collaborations, Bethlehem’s cultural and industrial history and its commitment to the arts are the foundation for growth in a city that’s home to everything from the country’s oldest bookstore to its largest free music festival.

I spent two days there recently, and minutes after checking into the Historic Bethlehem Hotel, I set out on the Historic Bethlehem Walking Tour with a costumed guide in the role of “Daddy Thomas,” an early town resident…

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