Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Is a city in Lehigh and Northampton Counties in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 71,329, (2008 estimate 72,241), making it the sixth largest city in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, and Reading.

Bethlehem lies in the center of the Lehigh Valley, a region of 731 square miles (1,893 km²) that is home to more than 800,000 people. The Valley embraces a trio of cities (Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton) within two counties (Lehigh and Northampton), making it Pennsylvania’s third-largest metropolitan area. Smaller than Allentown but larger than Easton, Bethlehem is the Lehigh Valley’s second most populous city.

There are three general sections of the city, North Bethlehem, South Bethlehem and West Bethlehem. Each of these sections blossomed at different times in the city’s development and each contains areas recognized under the National Register of Historic Places.

In July 2006, Money magazine included Bethlehem as one of its “Top 100 Best Places to Live.” It placed number 88.

History

The areas along the Delaware River and its tributaries in eastern Pennsylvania were long inhabited by indigenous peoples of various cultures. By the time of European contact, these areas were the historic territory of the Algonquian-speaking Lenape Nation, which had two main language families, the Unami and the Munsee. They traded with the Dutch and then English colonists in the mid-Atlantic area.

On Christmas Eve in 1741, David Nitschmann and Count Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, leading a small group of Moravians, founded the mission community of Bethlehem along the banks of the Monocacy Creek by the Lehigh River in the colony of Pennsylvania. They named the settlement after the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Originally it was a typical Moravian Settlement Congregation, where the Church owned all the property. Until the 1850s, only members of the Moravian Church were permitted to live in Bethlehem. The historic Brethren’s House, Sisters’ House, Widows’ House and Gemeinhaus (Congregation House) with the Old Chapel are remnants of this period of communal living.

The Moravians ministered to regional Lenape Native Americans through their mission in the area, as well as further east in the New York colony. In the historic Bethlehem God’s Acre cemetery, converted Lenape were buried alongside the Moravians.

In 1762, Bethlehem built the first water works in America to pump water for public usage. While George Washington and his troops stayed in Valley Forge, his personal effects were stored at the farm of James Burnside in Bethlehem. This is now a historical museum (Burnside Plantation).

The prosperous village was incorporated into a free borough in the County of Northampton in 1845. After the Unity Synod of 1848, Bethlehem became the headquarters of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in North America.

On March 27, 1900, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem presented the United States debut of German Lutheran Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass in B Minor in the city’s Central Moravian Church.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.4 square miles (50.3 km²), of which, 19.3 square miles (49.9 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (0.88%) is water.

Because large volumes of water were required in the steelmaking process, the city purchased 22,000 acres (89 km²) of land in the Pocono Mountains, where its water is stored in reservoirs.

Source: Wikipedia

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • RSS
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
Translator
Pages