I took the boys to Allentown and Bethlehem for the weekend because Jenny is on call. I love seeing the country with them, but I especially love visiting small and mid-sized cities. They get to see a very different slice of life and a very different imprint of history on the landscape on these trips than they do in Mountain Lakes.
At home, they get to see a place that was built to be a retreat for wealthy New Yorkers to escape the noise, pollution, and density of early 20th century New York for a bucolic setting with beautiful Arts and Crafts homes set on the side of a mountain and placed around a series of lakes and streams. Today, it isn’t any longer a retreat from the city, but it retains its essential character. People doing well living in a beautiful setting among natural beauty.
In Allentown and Bethlehem, they get to see a more complex history. We spent part of the late morning and early afternoon walking around the remains of the Bethlehem Steel Mill, once one of the largest production facilities in the world. At its peak over 30,000 people worked at the 1/3 mile long facility.
Will, as usual, had lots of questions. What was it like to work there? Why did the facility fall into disrepair? I got to put on my urban sociologist hat for a little while while we talked about why the factory was originally located there and what factors led to its demise. I doubt there is another 7 year old on the planet who has spent as much time talking about blast furnaces and pig iron. That is what happens when you have an old dad from Youngstown Ohio.
Lucas, was more interested in getting inside the outlet mall attached to the casino and hotel complex next to the old steelworks plot so they could go to the arcade (their reward for listening to dad yammer on about deindustrialization).
Here are some pictures from the our walk around the Bethlehem Steel Works.
They also had a great time at DaVinci Science Center in Allentown. Will, as usual, was the first to volunteer to answer a question and take part in the demonstration during the science show. I love his enthusiasm for learning. Lucas, by contrast, prodded me for the answers to the presenter’s questions so that he could answer. And, of course, he chastised me if I didn’t give him the answer quick enough. I don’t want to fathom what he would have done if I answered one of the questions wrong.
All in all, a great weekend.