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Lehigh Valley Live: Bethlehem is making a time capsule. Here’s what should be in it.

April 30th, 2018 |

Written by Sara K. Satullo for Lehigh Valley Live

Bethlehem just celebrated a big birthday — its 275th — and Historic Bethlehem Museum & Sites is building a community time capsule to be opened in 2068.

Historic Bethlehem is about launch a new interactive exhibit celebrating and preserving the city’s last 275 years, which will culminate with the burial of the time capsule.

Time Capsule Bethlehem: Our City Then and Now opens Thursday, March 29, with a 6 to 9 p.m. opening reception at the Kemerer Museum.

But submissions for the 2018 community time capsule are being accepted starting Saturday.

Special to

The exhibit covers multiple Historic Bethlehem sites, but your visit should start at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts.

That’s where the organization is displaying artifacts customarily found in a time capsule, like ticket stubs and photos, and the interactive timeline that’s the centerpiece of the exhibit.

The living timeline chronicles Bethlehem from its infancy in 1741 until present through artwork, newspaper clippings and artifacts like Count Zinzendorf’s crystal cuff links to Bethlehem Steel Corp. memos.

Visitors are invited to share their own memories and stories by writing onto the whiteboard panels covering the walls around the timeline.

How to contribute

Starting March 10, anyone is invited to help fill the time capsule by submitting photos, records and mementos by filling out a submission form at

Then the public can vote on which submissions make it into the capsule on Facebook. Voting begins March 24 and ends Aug. 1. Submissions will be uploaded to the Facebook page on a weekly basis.

Throughout the exhibit the time capsule box will be put on display and when the exhibit closes it will be buried, not to be seen for the next 50 years.

This call for submissions got us thinking about what a quintessentially-Bethlehem time capsule just has to have.

Not that anyone asked us, but here’s our take.

Musikfest mugs

We hope Musikfest — Bethlehem’s signature 10-day free music festival — is still going strong in another 50 years.

But just in case, future Bethlehemites need to know about the music festival that helped kick off the city’s evolution from steel mill town to an arts and culture destination.

At the very least, it’ll be fun for folks in the future to see how far the signature mug has come.

A map

In our digital age, this might seem old school, but the time capsule should definitely include a current map of Bethlehem.

The city is constantly evolving and it is fun to be able to compare then versus now.

Lisa Massey

Peeps or Mike and Ikes

They’d certainly be stale in 50 years, but it seems like a major oversight to leave out Just Born candies.


Any good time capsule contains photos that lets the future-openers marvel at how things have changed — look at the clothes! — and just how things have stayed the same — Oh, look there’s the Goundie House.

We’d suggest shots of Main Street, the SteelStacks campus, the Colonial Industrial Quarter, Lehigh University and Moravian College and some Bethlehem Area School District buildings. file photo

Christmas City Seal

Since 1946, Bethlehem has been producing a Christmas City seal to deck the streets with holiday cheer.

But the digital age has made the fundraiser less and less lucrative until organizers decided to make 2017 the last year of the tradition.

Let city residents of the future know about the tradition by including seals of Christmas past in the capsule.

Local newspaper or magazine

Throw in an edition of The Express-Times and The Morning Call, so folks in the future can see one of those newspaper things in the flesh.

In 50 years, the printed daily newspaper may have gone the way of the telegraph, so this is not an entirely self-indulgent suggestion.

A DVD or zip-drive with a WFMZ 69 news broadcast would be a good call as well. file photo

A beer recipe

In a perfect world, we’d throw a growler or bottle of beer from Fegley’s Bethlehem Brew Works into the capsule.

But they might leak and they really would taste awful by the time it is cracked open.

The second best option? A recipe, so future Bethlehemites can craft their own.

For Bethlehem’s 275th, beer historian Christopher Bowen, who is now the head brewer at the Bethlehem Brew Works, teamed up with Fegley’s to develop Goundie’s Old Monocacy Ale, a brew derived from an 1815 brewing recipe.

The ale was sold in commemorative packaging with a Moravian star necklace. Maybe there’s still one kicking around that could be donated for the capsule?

We’d also suggest throwing in the recipe for one of Fegley’s popular beers, like Space Monkey or the Devious Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Christmas ornament

As the Christmas City, Bethlehem should represent with one of its signature ornaments available at the Moravian Book Shop, the Bethlehem Visitor’s Center and other downtown spots.

Steve Novak | For lehighvalleyli

Bethlehem Star

It is doubtful Bethlehem will lose its signature star in the next 50 years, but it wouldn’t hurt to let future residents see its various iterations in 2018.

The time capsule should include photos of the star on South Mountain, an actual ornament as well as photos of Main Street and various wayfinding signs around the city.

Steve Novak | For lehighvalleylive

Moravian star

While many outside of Bethlehem confuse the Moravian and Bethlehem stars, residents of the city know the difference.

All of the points on the Moravian star — or Advent star — are equal lengths because Moravians believe in equality among men and women.

Moravian Book Shop sells plenty of merchandise sporting both stars. Tuck a favorite into the time capsule.

Ticket stub

Ticket stubs may be a thing of the past come 2068.

Throw in some from acts at the Musikfest Cafe and showings of the Oscar nominated movies shown at Frank Banko Alehouse Cinema.

Sara K. Satullo | For


Pennants from Moravian and Lehigh

College logos evolve over time, so it will be fun to see how retro these 2018 Lehigh University and Moravian College pennants look in 50 years.

Matt Smith | file photo

Mix of Godfrey Daniels acts

Will music be totally digital in 2068? Or in a format we can’t even imagine yet?

It is hard to know.

But the capsule could commemorate the legendary Godfrey Daniels, an intimate city music venue known for its emphasis on folk music, with a mix of the best recent performances on a CD or jump drive.

The Rock

Freedom High School grad Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has not forgotten his local Bethlehem roots.

He’s given televised shout-outs to late Freedom High teacher and football coach Jody Cwik, whom he credits with getting him on the right path.

The pro-wrestler-turned-movie-star has had lots of high-profile roles in recent years, so throw in some Blu-Ray DVDs of his top films.

Sara K. Satullo | For

Bethlehem Steel gear

While Bethlehem Steel Corp. is long closed, its influence is felt all over the city and in its resurgence.

The capsule could include a sampling of the commemorative Bethlehem Steel gear now available in downtown stores. If someone can dig up a slice of an iconic I-beam, even better.

Moravian sugar cookie recipe

The city’s Visitor’s Center gift shop sells the cookie recipe along with a kit.


Visit the exhibit

Admission to Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites

A one-site pass costs $12

A multi-site pass is $20

Members receive free admission

Visit or contact the Visitor Center & Museum Store at 1-800-360-TOUR for more information about the exhibit.


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