Bethlehem, PA 18017
Bethlehem is a town on the eastern portion of Pennsylvania 48 miles outside of Philadelphia and around 2 hours from New York City. The town is abundant in its colonial and industrial history and was founded in 1741 by a religious group from the Moravian Church. The town has numerous historical sites like The Tannery. The Tannery is a historic tannery that was built in 1761 by the Moravians and still resides within the Colonial Industrial Quarter today. Some of the other structures include the 1869 Luckenbach Mill, Single Sisters’ House, Nain-Schober House, and more. Although the town itself is large with a population of 75,461, its art galleries and museums give it a charming small-town atmosphere. The town is a fascinating place to learn about, but also has other things that make it a great place to live. For families with kids, the education system is above average and there are over 20 school options to choose from amongst the elementary, middle, and high schools. They also have a lot of activities, like their annual music event known as Musikfest. This affair takes place every August over ten days and usually showcases around 500 performances. Musikfest has been a tradition in the town since 1984. Since then, some names who’ve appeared on stage throughout the years have been The Beach Boys, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, and countless others. Overall, it’s a great place to live for families and single individuals alike with something for everyone.
Bethlehem Local Businesses
Bethlehem offers many different job opportunities within their historical sites, but they also do well in nourishing small businesses. A few of their locally owned businesses include The Barber Pill, Smmackin Sammiches, Belisaire Painting & Home Improvements, Crowned by CJ & C, roofing contractors, lawyers, electriicans, and may other professions. All kinds of small businesses flourish in the town, especially the small food businesses. The wide range of eating locations makes for a tasteful and diverse variety of options. They offer foods from New Orleans at The Bayou Southern Kitchen and Bar, Mediterranean at Milan’s Bistro, Thai at Thai Thai II, and plenty of others.
Bethlehem even has vegan options at Vegan Treats Inc. Its founder, Danielle Konya, set out with a goal to bring ethical eating options to Bethlehem and started by creating her first famous peanut butter bomb cake. She’s expanded her business over the years and now delivers to customers throughout the Tri-State area as well as surrounding areas of Washington DC. Danielle is one success story of many throughout Bethlehem. They also maintain countless large-scale businesses such as Walgreens, Domino’s, Dunkin’, Little Caesar’s, along with others. Businesses of all kinds and all sizes are welcomed and embraced in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The people in Bethlehem are nothing short of warm and inviting. A big part of their community lives is the events that the town organizes. They have Musikfest, as mentioned before, but this is just one of many. To some, they’re known as the “City of Festivals,” because of the copious amounts of events that they hold. Annually, they host around 10 major festivals along with another 150 smaller festivals, as well as community events. Some of their events include Summer Spirit Cocktail Trail, Soup Saunter, Winter Restaurant Week, Bethlehem Vegfest, and more. One event that began this May and is still ongoing until the 22nd of July is the Tunes at Twilight. Every Thursday night in Historic Downtown Bethlehem, locals and visitors can go to select Tunes hotspots along Main and Broad Streets to listen to the music. Anyone can listen while dining in outdoor parklets or even while shopping at some of Bethlehem’s locally owned businesses. Bethlehem’s community events are a big part of what creates the close-knit bond between locals as well as the small-town atmosphere that exists, which is why even the pandemic couldn’t put a hold on their fun. Additionally, the town also held several virtual events including the Downtown Dual, Chef’s Corner, and Shopping Network. All the events create cheerful energy and offer great opportunities for locals and newcomers alike to share experiences.
Another big part of the community in Bethlehem is the celebration of Christmas. The town was christened on Christmas Eve in 1741 in a stable with the presence of a small group of Moravains who sang hymns. The town is often referred to as the Christmas City of the US, and because of this, Christmas is a large affair in Bethlehem and numerous events are held to celebrate. Some of these events include Huts on Main, Santa’s Haus, Holiday Shopping Pass, A Merry Little Shop & Stroll, and many others. Trees throughout the Historic Moravain District are adorned with sparkling lights and the whole town shines with Christmas spirit. There’s even a live Advent Calendar where a downtown merchant appears from the door of the historic Goundie House on Main Street with gifts for whoever is there. Another holiday event that’s hosted are the Gingerbread Games. Here, participants purchase a 2 foot Gingerbread Friend, and then decorate it. The gingerbreads are then taken and displayed throughout the area where another event, Christmas Hits on Main, takes place as well down the pathway into “Christmas at the Quarter” at the Historic Colonial Industrial Quarter. No matter what seasons it may be, Bethlehem always has an event for everyone to share and enjoy together.
The Future of Bethlehem
As of right now, Bethlehem’s main focus is on the “economic and cultural renaissance” that they’re currently experiencing. On their calendar for June there is a virtual Historical Architectural Review Board meeting, Zoning Hearing Board meeting, Historic Conversation Commission Baord meeting, as well as a few other meetings. A specific project currently going on is the Blight Project. In 2018, the city oversaw a “comprehensive Blight Study” and is now working with the results from the nine-month blight analysis. According to the town’s website, the “Blight Remediation and Mitigation Plan identifies a set of activities to guide the City’s approach to fighting blight into the 21st century.” They are now currently implementing recommendations based on the findings from the study. Along with all of this, they are also focusing on Covid-19 recovery as well as getting their citizens vaccinated. In the future, Bethlehem’s citizens can expect improvements to their already charming city.