In 1762, William Allen, Chief Justice of Colonial Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, former mayor of Philadelphia and successful businessman, drew up plans for a rural village known as Northamptontown. Folks didn’t care for the lengthy, formal name so they called it “Allen’s Town.” In 1838, the city officially adopted the name Allentown.
Allentown is a thriving metropolis with roots in the iron industry. In 1829, Allentown expanded from a small village of Pennsylvania Dutch farmers and tradesmen to a major area of commerce. When the Lehigh Canal opened, many canal workers made their homes here. In the 1830s-40s, the Lehigh Valley gave birth to America’s industrial revolution. Coupled with the impact of the Lehigh Canal and the railroads later, Allentown finally achieved the commercial success William Allen envisioned.
Today, the Allentown Art Museum is one of the city’s main attractions. The museum offers exhibitions of notable artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol’s Athlete Series, paintings by Flemish and Barocci, among many others. Visitors can also tour the Museum of Indian Culture, which honors the legacy of native Lenni Lenape people. Begin each year with a drive through Lights in the Parkway, a symbol of community spirit that burns brightly as it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. Allentown’s Canal Park is nearby, providing easy access to the D&L Trail, plus opportunities for hiking, biking, jogging, fishing and access to the waterways for paddlers.