The Lehigh Valley is a region in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, considered part of the larger Philadelphia Region in the United States. It is 60 miles north of Philadelphia, the nation's sixth largest city, and 90 miles west of New York City, the nation's largest city.
The three largest cities of the Lehigh Valley are Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton.
A thriving industrial center in the 19th century, its struggles in the "post-industrial" 20th Century became the lyrics of a famous song by Billy Joel named after "Allentown," its biggest city. The Lehigh Valley has begun to turn itself around with some success through tourism with many ski resorts, theme parks, concerts and cultural festivals year round. It also has become an increasingly popular bedroom community for those with pofessional jobs in New York City and Philadelphia.
The Lehigh Valley is known nationally as the birthplace of several famous Americans, including:
- Michael Andretti, professional racing team owner, former professional race car driver.
- Chuck Bednarik, former professional football player, Philadelphia Eagles, Pro Football Hall of Fame member.
- Michaela Conlin, actress, Fox's Bones.
- Jimmy DeGrasso, former drummer, Megadeth.
- Jonathan Frakes, actor, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Lee Iacocca, former chairman, Chrysler Corporation.
- Keith Jarrett, jazz musician.
- Michael Johns, conservative writer and commentator, former White House speechwriter.
- Dwayne Johnson ("The Rock"), actor, former professional wrestler.
- Daniel Dae Kim, actor, ABC's Lost.
- Steve Kimock, rock musician.
- Andre Reed, former professional football player, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins.
- Daniel Roebuck, actor, ABC's Lost.
- Brian Schneider, professional baseball player, New York Mets.
- Christine Taylor, actress, wife of actor Ben Stiller.
- Amanda Seyfried, model and actress, The CW's Veronica Mars and HBO's Big Love.
- Jonathan Taylor Thomas, actor, ABC's Home Improvement.
- Lauren Weisberger, author, The Devil Wears Prada.
"Down the shore" is a common local reference to the New Jersey beaches, located approximately 75 miles southeast from the Lehigh Valley.
- It's not a major airport like in New York City or Philadelphia, but it's larger than your average small airport. Arlines include Air Canada, Allegiant Air, Continental Express, Delta, Northwest, United Express and US Airways. When I called they said they don't get direct flights from any other countries besides the United States and Canada, but travellers can get to the LVIA after switching flights at another airport.
There are a few different ways to travel throughout the valley. LANTA provides bus service to major areas. You can call for a taxi, although it is unlikely to find them just driving on the streets. Other ways are renting a car or walking.
- The Crayola Factory, where crayons are manufactured, in Easton.
- Outdoor activities at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
- Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in South Whitehall Township, by Allentown, is one of the premiere amusement and water parks in the nation, known especially for its elaborate rollercoasters and large waterpark..
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The AAA-level minor league team of the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies plays their home games at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown from early April through early October.. Tickets: (610) 841-PIGS.
- Philadelphia Eagles. The Philadelphia Eagles hold their twice-a-day summer training camp practices each July and August at Lehigh University in Bethlehem.. Admission is free.
- The South Mall, located between Allentown and Emmaus in Salisbury Township, is anchored by The BonTon, and includes approximately 30 other stores.
- Lee Gribben's on Main, 2nd & Main Sts., Emmaus, (610) 967-4409. High-end dining establishment. Formal. Bar separate from restaurant. Exceptional food among the best in the Lehigh Valley..
- Volpe's Sports Bar, 501 Broad St., Emmaus, (610) 965-0311. Recently renovated sports bar with over 10 large screen plasma televisions, including all out of town games. Broad food and beer selections. Several large rooms, including the bar area. Formerly known as the Broad Street Saloon, the upper floors are apartments. Under new management, and still among the top places to go in the Valley for affordable drinks, cold beer and televised sports.
Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton all experience crime. Much of the crime is gang-related, so try to stay out of poor neighborhoods and housing projects. 18th Street, Black Dragons, Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, Los Solidos, Mexican Mafia, and MS-13 are all gangs found in the area. They are the most violent gangs in the country. Graffiti is also common, especially in Allentown and on Bethlehem's South Side.
Theft is an issue, but be sure to lock cars and stay out of certain areas at night. In 2006, Allentown had 16 murders, 42 rapes, and 6059 property crimes. The crime index was 6667.5 per 100,000 in 2006, while the national average was only 4479.3.
Rougher areas include: Northern Allentown, South Bethlehem, and Pembroke in East Bethlehem. Crime is more likely to happen here, but can happen anywhere.
Allentown and Easton have crime rates almost twice the national average in every category, including rape, robbery, theft, auto theft, murder, assault, and burglary. Allentown is definitely the most crime-ridden city in the Lehigh Valley.
Prostitution and street drag racing are also issues in the Lehigh Valley. Don't walk alone late at night or on un-lit streets. Don't wander too far off the main streets. If homeless approach you for change, just keep walking if you don't want to give anything. The Valley has a large Spanish population. You will find signs in businesses in Spanish. Pickpocketing is not a large problem, but don't flash around your money.
Interstate 78 will take you east through northern New Jersey into New York City, and west towards Harrisburg in the Susquehanna Valley region.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike - Northeast Extension 476 will take you south towards Valley Forge and Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. From there you can catch Interstate 95 and go al the way down the east coast to Florida, and north towards the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre area in the Coal Region.
Route 33 will go north towards the Poconos.
In either Wilkes-Barre or the Poconos, one can connect to Interstate 80 that goes all the way from Metro New York to San Francisco, passing through or near: