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Allentown, Pennsylvania, founded as Northamptontown, is the seat of Lehigh County. It was founded by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Colonial Pennsylvania, William Allen, who was once Mayor of Philadelphia. He bought 5,000 acres of the land, which was settled in 1751. He laid out the plans for the village in 1762, which caused people to call it “Allen’s town,” despite the fact that it was not named that. Allentown was the place where the Pennsylvania State House bell, which most people now call the Liberty Bell was hidden from the British soldiers during the American Revolutionary. After George Washington and his troops were defeated at the Battle of Brandywine in early September of 1777, Philadelphia, the revolutionary capital, began preparing for the Redcoats to attack. Eleven huge bells in the city were removed in order to keep the British from melting them down for use as cannonballs. They were whisked away by two local residents and concealed them in the basement of the Old Zion Reformed Church, which is in the museum in that basement in what is the center of Allentown today. Its name was officially changed to Allentown in 1938, just as the American Industrial Revolution, which began in the Lehigh Valley, was beginning to take shape. Bethlehem Steel and the iron industry kept the city financially well-off until the Panic of 1873, which caused the iron furnaces to close one at a timeAllentown, however, did recover, and by the early 1900s, it was full of silk mills and factories which produced beer, cigars, and furniture, as well as various other products. In the mid-20th century, as the so-called service economy began to dominate much of the country, the streets began to be filled with empty buildings. The city has begun to be filled with offices, including county offices, the corporate offices of PPL Corporation and of Air Products & Chemicals, and Allentown’s largest employer, Lehigh Valley Hospital.

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