PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metropolitan Statistical Area
Map of the Lehigh Valley
|Elevation||2,180 ft (660 m)|
(2019 U.S. Census Estimate)
|Time zone||UTC-5 (ET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|Area code(s)||570, 610 & 484, 908|
The Lehigh Valley , known officially by the United States Census Bureau and the United States Office of Management and Budget as the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area and referred to colloquially as The Valley, is a metropolitan region officially consisting of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton Counties in eastern Pennsylvania and Warren County in northwestern New Jersey. The Lehigh Valley's largest city, with a population of 120,443 residents as of the 2010 U.S. Census, is Allentown. The Pennsylvania portion of the region is part of Philadelphia's designated media market.
The Lehigh Valley is the third most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area in the state of Pennsylvania with a population of 841,914 residents as of the 2018 U.S. Census Estimate, a 2.5% increase from 821,173 residents in the 2010 U.S. Census. The region is surpassed in total population in Pennsylvania only by the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas. It is the 64th most populated metropolitan area in the United States. Lehigh County, the Valley's largest county in terms of overall population, is among the fastest growing in the state and, as of 2010-2012, ranks in the 79th percentile for population growth nationally. The core population centers are located in southern and central Lehigh and Northampton counties along U.S. Route 22 and Interstate 78. The Lehigh Valley is proximate to two of the nation's largest cities: New York City, which is about 75 miles to its east, and Philadelphia, which is 60 miles to its southeast.
The Lehigh Valley's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 was US$43,800,000,000 ($43.8 billion), driven heavily by strong manufacturing, health care, finance, and professional services industry components. It is one of the largest and fastest growing economies in Pennsylvania with a 5% increase in GDP between 2016 and 2017 alone. The median household income for the region increased from US$57,288 to US$62,507 between 2015 and 2019 and the unemployment rate, as of July 2019, was 3.9%.
In 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, and again in 2020, the Lehigh Valley was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the one of the top 5 best performing regions of its size (up to 1,000,000 residents) for economic development in the country and the best performing region in the entire Northeastern United States. It was also ranked by Fortune in May 2015 as being among the top 10 best places in the U.S. to locate corporate finance and information technology operations for companies, such as call centers and IT support. Allentown, the region's largest city, was cited as a "national success story" in April 2016 by the Urban Land Institute for its downtown redevelopment and transformation that has resulted in US$1,000,000,000 ($1 billion) worth of new development projects there between 2015 and 2018 alone, one of only six communities nationwide of any size to have achieved this distinction.
The Lehigh Valley is named for the Lehigh River, which runs through it, and owes much of its development and history to the anthracite supplies, timber, and ores which poured down the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company's (LC&N) Lehigh Canal and railroads LC&N built or encouraged parallel to it. The lower Lehigh Valley is geologically part of the Great Appalachian Valley and is bordered on the north by the mineral-rich Ridge and Valley Appalachians, which define its rugged upper parts from White Haven and west of the Poconos, south through the Lehigh Gorge to the Lehigh Gap near Palmerton. The upper drainage basin contains or shares[a] nearly half the southeastern Coal Region, which has the richest anthracite deposits in the world, while the lower valley holds valuable limestone, sandstone, and clay deposits. In the charter of March 20, 1818 for the Lehigh Navigation Company, the legislature gave virtual total control to the Canal Company[b] which it retained until 1964. These transportation improvements overcame the country's first energy crises due to deforestation in the early 19th century. The Canal operated into the Great Depression, feeding ports up and down the Delaware River, the Delaware Canal, and transoceanic demand, and was integral to the regional industrial revolution in the greater Philadelphia-Trenton-Wilmington region. The Morris Canal and the 22-23 miles (35-37 km) coal feeder of the Delaware and Raritan Canal and locks at New Hope on the Delaware Canal were built to fuel the anthracite needs of Newark, Trenton, Jersey City and New York City.
Consequently, culturally and historically, the Valley runs from the drainage divide in the Solomon Gap just north of Mountain Top where coal flowed up the Ashley Planes from the Wyoming Valley coal beds in Luzerne County and across the divide, then downhill to the White Haven, then down through the Lehigh Gorge, past the historic Jim Thorpe terminus of the Summit Hill & Mauch Chunk Railroad (SH&MC)[c] through historic locks and dams below Jim Thorpe or alongside the canal which fueled the American Industrial Revolution and operated into the Great Depression. The American Canal age had its epicenter at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers where five major canals met major rivers and coastal waterways, and all gave the people and industries of the Lehigh Valley access to minerals and markets via Easton from Connecticut, New York, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The Lehigh Valley's principal cities are Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, making up the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metropolitan area. The traditional bounds of the region are The Poconos to the north, the Delaware River to the east, the boundaries of Berks County and Montgomery County to the southwest, and the boundary with Bucks County to the south. More recently, however, parts of upper Bucks County around Quakertown, and portions of eastern Berks County and southern Carbon and Schuylkill counties in Pennsylvania are considered outer parts of the Valley.
The Lehigh Valley is located approximately 60 mi (97 km) north of Philadelphia, 80 mi (130 km) northeast of Harrisburg, and 90 mi (140 km) west of New York City, the country's largest city. The area is home to more than 820,000 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census. Recent census studies show it to be the fastest growing region in Pennsylvania, due in part to its growing popularity as a bedroom community for the highly populated neighboring regions of Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City as well as its favorable business climate and much lower cost of living in comparison to surrounding areas.
The Lehigh Valley is geologically and geographically part of the Great Appalachian Valley, a region largely made up of limestone that stretches along the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The Lehigh Valley is so named because it is composed of an actual valley formed by the Lehigh River that lies between two mountain ranges, Blue Mountain to the north and South Mountain to the south. Lehigh Valley also is considered part of the historic Pennsylvania Dutch Country.
As of the 2010 United States Census the Metro area had a population of 821,173 which increased in 2018 to 841,913 according to the U.S. Census Estimate. The Lehigh Valley ranks as the third most populous metropolitan areas in the state of Pennsylvania and ranks 68th most populous in the United States. In 2018, the Office of Management and Budget removed the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA from the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA.
The Lehigh Valley has four distinct seasons, which typically include humid summers, cold winters, and very short and mild springs and falls. It has a humid continental climate (Dfa/Dfb) and the hardiness zone ranges from 5b in the highlands of northern Carbon to 6b (the principal zone in Lehigh, Northampton, and southern Warren Counties).
|Climate data for Allentown, Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley Int'l), 1981-2010 normals,[d] extremes 1922-present[e]|
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||57.9
|Average high °F (°C)||36.0
|Average low °F (°C)||19.5
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||3.0
|Record low °F (°C)||-15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.03
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||10.0
|Average precipitation days||11.1||9.8||11.0||12.1||12.1||11.4||10.9||9.5||9.1||9.1||9.8||10.9||126.8|
|Average snowy days||5.5||4.8||2.5||0.4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.6||3.5||17.3|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69.1||66.7||62.6||60.9||65.6||67.9||68.8||71.9||74.0||71.8||70.5||71.4||68.4|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1961-1990)|
According to the 2018 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Lehigh Valley has a total population of 841,913 residents as of 2018. 87.1% of the population were White American, 4.6% were Black or African American, 0.1% were American Indian, 2.3% were Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.1%, 4.3% were of some other race, and 1.5% belonged to two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 11.3% of the population.
The Lehigh Valley is seeing an influx of residents coming from New Jersey and New York to take advantage of the greatly reduced cost of living, employment opportunities, and close proximity to two of the largest cities in the country, Philadelphia and New York City. The population of the area is expected to increase by 227,000 people by 2040, making it one of the fastest growing areas in the state and country overall.
The median household income in the Lehigh Valley is US$62,507 as of 2019 and it has seen significant increases in recent years as the area continues to grow and attract new businesses to the region.
The Lehigh Valley's current economy is unusually well balanced and multi-faceted compared to national averages and very different from earlier years when it was based heavily on manufacturing, apparel, and the production of steel. The top five industries in the region are 1.) finance, 2.) manufacturing, 3.) education, 4.) professional services, and 5.) health care as of 2019. Other major industry sectors in the area include retail, transportation and warehousing, arts and entertainment, and information services. All of the top 5 largest industry sectors are fairly equally balanced in their contribution to the area's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$43,800,000,000 ($43.8 billion) as of 2017.
The Lehigh Valley is known historically for its production of steel, Portland cement and apparel. It had served as a major U.S. center of industrial manufacturing since the 1800s but this role had diminished significantly in the late 20th century and early 21st century as companies moved to offshore locations for these activities.
Once a formidable industrial and manufacturing powerhouse serving the entire United States, the nationwide decline of this industry in the late 20th century and early 2000s led the Lehigh Valley to shift its economic focus more towards financial services, health care, life sciences and technology as well as becoming a distribution hub for some of the largest U.S. markets due to its comparatively low cost of doing business and proximity to some of the nation's largest metropolitan areas and markets.
However, a recent movement to reestablish manufacturing activities in the United States driven by customer demand for American made products, faster product delivery, increased overseas wages, and inflated costs and extended timeframes for shipping has recently led to a sizable increase in the local manufacturing base and rapidly growing interest in the region. Few other areas in the country are able to offer such robust infrastructure combined with comparatively low costs of living and doing business including low energy costs, lower taxes, significant tax incentive and business support programs, lower labor costs, more affordable real estate, and overnight distribution access to more than one-third the total population of the United States and one-half the population of Canada. Several large companies from China and Germany have each invested tens of millions of dollars into establishing significant operations in the Lehigh Valley which has generated thousands of new local jobs in the large and fast-growing manufacturing sector of the area's economy.
As of the 1st quarter of 2019, the Lehigh Valley's top five employers are: 1.) Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, 2.) St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network, 3.) Amazon.com DEDC LLC, 4.) Lehigh Valley Physician Group, and 5.) Mack Trucks.
The Lehigh Valley is one of the fastest growing and largest economies in Pennsylvania with a total GDP of US$43,800,000,000 ($43.8 billion) that saw a 5 percent increase between 2016 and 2017 alone driven by strong manufacturing, financial, health care, and professional services industry segments. It is centrally located in the Northeast Megalopolis with ease of access and close proximity to several of the largest markets, population centers, airports, terminals, railways and seaports in the United States including both the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. The Lehigh Valley is also situated within a one-day drive to more than one third of the total population of the United States and more than one half of the total population of Canada. The area has a lower cost of living, more affordable real estate, lower taxes, better access to institutions of higher education, and a larger and more affordable labor pool, however, than many other Northeastern US regions. These attributes and others, such as sizable investments in business development incentive programs and a friendlier regulatory environment, provide the area with an attractive business climate in comparison to surrounding areas.
Due in large part to the aforementioned comparably favorable business climate and mature business support programs, such as the state's Ben Franklin Technology Partners business incubator and investment fund, the Lehigh Valley has been very successful in luring established businesses as well as new startup companies from higher cost areas such as New York and New Jersey, bringing with them thousands of new jobs and significant new investments to the region. For example, according to Inc. Magazine, America's fastest growing cyber security company, 2nd fastest growing company in all of Pennsylvania, and 47th fastest growing private company in the nation overall in 2019, Netizen Corporation, was founded and is based in the Lehigh Valley. Large companies such as Amazon.com have also praised the region for its commitment to business support, infrastructure investment, and incentive programs, citing them as major reasons for their continuing expansions and increased hiring in the region and Allegiant Air, a low-cost budget airline, is opening a new flight base at the Lehigh Valley International Airport in February 2020, noting the area's rapid growth, lower costs of doing business, and proximity to popular destinations as significant factors in its decision to do so.
Other large national and international companies either based in the Lehigh Valley or with significant operations there include Broadcom Corporation (in Allentown), Avantor Performance Materials (Center Valley), Air Products & Chemicals (in Trexlertown), Crayola LLC (in Easton), Buckeye Partners (in Emmaus), Heidelberg Cement (in Fogelsville), Just Born (in Bethlehem, maker of the popular Peeps candies), Lutron Electronics (in Coopersburg), Mack Trucks (in Allentown), Martin Guitar (in Nazareth), Olympus Corporation USA (in Center Valley), OraSure Technologies (in Bethlehem), PPL Corporation (in Allentown), Rodale Press (in Emmaus), Wind Creek Bethlehem, Dun & Bradstreet (in Center Valley), Synchronoss Technologies (in Bethlehem), Victaulic (in Easton), and many others.
Further reaffirming the area's advantageous business and economic environment, the Lehigh Valley was recognized by business publication Site Selection Magazine in 2014, 2017, 2018, and again in 2019 as being the second-best performing region of its size for economic development in the United States and the best performing region in the entire northeast. It was also ranked by Fortune in May 2015 as being amongst the top 10 best places in the U.S. to locate corporate finance and information technology operations for companies, such as call centers and IT support.Allentown, the region's largest city, was cited as a "national success story" in April 2016 by the Urban Land Institute for its downtown redevelopment and transformation that has resulted in US$1,000,000,000 ($1 billion) worth of new development projects there between 2015 and 2019 alone, one of only six communities nationwide to have achieved this distinction.
The Lehigh Valley is also one of the largest areas on the East Coast for the location of warehouses and distribution centers. Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as the nation's "second Inland Empire" for freight. Large national companies that own and operate warehouses and distribution centers in the Lehigh Valley include Amazon.com, B. Braun, Boston Beer Company (brewer of Samuel Adams brand beer), BMW, Bridgestone, FedEx SmartPost, FedEx Ground, Home Depot, J. C. Penney, Nestlé Purina, ShopRite, Stitch Fix, The Coca-Cola Company, Ocean Spray, Phillips Pet Food and Supplies, True Value, Uline, Zulily, and many others. Most of these warehouses and distribution centers are located along the U.S. Route 22, Interstate 78 and Interstate 476 corridors in the region which provide direct access to numerous major markets throughout the northeast and beyond.
Due to this direct access and proximity to major markets, FedEx Ground constructed their largest distribution hub in the country in the Lehigh Valley near the international airport. This new hub can process up to 45,000 packages per hour and currently employs over 2,000 people. By 2030, it will have a total size of 1,100,000 (1.1 million) square feet and employ over 3,000 people in total. It opened in September 2018 at a cost of $335 million to build. Furthermore, Amazon.com leverages the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) as one of only 11 locations in the country for their Amazon Air shipping service. LVIA was one of the first airports selected for the pilot concept of the Amazon Air program due to its close proximity to large population centers, cost-effectiveness, robust infrastructure, and comparative ease of use and access. This location now ships more merchandise, has more flights, and serves more people (over 75 million as of late 2016) for Amazon than any other facility in the country. Amazon and numerous other large companies continue to invest heavily in the region to better support the ever-increasing demand for efficient cargo transportation, driven in large part by the explosive growth of e-commerce and customer requirements for faster and more cost effective delivery of merchandise.
The Boston Beer Company operates its largest production brewery facility in the country in the Lehigh Valley (in Breinigsville), which produces more than 2/3rds of all Samuel Adams beer in the world. The company continues to upgrade and expand operations at this facility and has cited the location as central to the company's success. Additionally, Ocean Spray, a popular maker of juice drinks and other fruit products, produces 40 percent of its total national beverage volume at its Lehigh Valley plant in Breinigsville. Due to Pennsylvania's lack of an excise tax on cigars and the Lehigh Valley's close proximity to major markets, the region is also home to some of the United States' largest cigar distributors and retailers.
Pennsylvania as a whole is ranked 19th in the nation in the production of renewable, notably solar, energy. The Lehigh Valley boasts one of the largest solar panel installations in Pennsylvania and is a leading producer of solar and other renewable energy in the state. As an example, Air Products & Chemicals, in Trexlertown, installed and maintains a 15-acre solar farm which generates more than half the required electricity for their corporate headquarters, saving an estimated $250,000 per year in utility costs. The comparatively large renewable energy industry in the Lehigh Valley is supported by a combination of federal, state and local incentive programs as well as recent advances in technology which make leveraging renewable energy sources more feasible and cost effective than in years past.
The Lehigh Valley is home to many retail establishments. The largest retail area of the Lehigh Valley is the Pennsylvania Route 145/MacArthur Road Corridor, just north of Allentown. It is anchored by the Lehigh Valley Mall and the Whitehall Mall.
Other malls in the region include Palmer Park Mall (in Easton), Phillipsburg Mall (in Phillipsburg, New Jersey), South Mall (in Allentown), and the Westgate Mall (in Bethlehem). In October 2006, a new Valley-based shopping mall, The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley, was opened. Located off Route 309 in Upper Saucon Township, The Promenade is roughly half the size of the Lehigh Valley Mall, but features more upscale stores. In 2011, The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem (now The Outlets at Wind Creek Bethlehem) opened at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, becoming the first outlet mall in the Lehigh Valley.
Yocco's Hot Dogs, the regionally-famous fast food establishment known for their hot dogs and cheesesteaks, maintains six locations, all of which are based in the Lehigh Valley. Its original restaurant, founded in 1922, is still located at its original center city Allentown location, on West Liberty Street. Five additional Yocco's locations can be found in the Lehigh Valley (in west-side Allentown, east-side Allentown, Emmaus, Fogelsville, and Wescosville).
The Lehigh Valley is part of the Philadelphia television market, and also receives television stations from New York City and Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Lehigh Valley-based stations include WBPH-TV, an affiliate of FamilyNet, a Christian network licensed to Bethlehem, with studios in Allentown; WFMZ-TV, an independent commercial television station atop South Mountain in Allentown; and WLVT-TV, a PBS station licensed to Allentown with studios in Bethlehem.
In recent years the Lehigh Valley has become an increasingly sought after destination for motion pictures filming on location. It has provided the backdrop to multiple motion pictures including M. Night Shyamalan's film Glass, indie dark-comedy Getting Grace helmed by character actor Daniel Roebuck, and Taylor A. Purdee's folk rock musical Killian & the Comeback Kids.
The Lehigh Valley is home to over 35 radio stations, spanning multiple formats, including tropical (spanish radio) news, talk, and sports, CHR/pop music, country music, National Public Radio, sports radio, oldies, polka, hot adult contemporary, soft rock, classic rock, hard rock, and a variety of college radio stations.
Lehigh Valley-based daily newspapers include the Allentown The Morning Call and the Easton The Express-Times, both with rich traditions dating back to the mid-1800s. The Lehigh Valley also features Lehigh Valley and Pocono Sports Extra (a monthly all sports publication), Lehigh Valley Style (a regional lifestyle publication), Lehigh Valley Magazine (the region's oldest lifestyle publication), Lehigh Valley Exposed (an alternative news and entertainment weekly), and four Spanish language newspapers, Al Dia, El Hispano, El Torero, and La Cronica. Lehigh Valley community publications include The Blue Mountain Town & Country Gazette in the northern part of the Valley.
The Lehigh Valley is a center of post-secondary education, with several four-year colleges and universities. These include:
The Lehigh Valley is also home to three two-year colleges:
As the third most populous metropolitan region in Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley is served by numerous school districts, public and private high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
Lehigh Valley-based high schools include:
The largest Lehigh Valley high schools (18 in all) compete athletically in the East Penn Conference. Smaller Lehigh Valley high schools compete in the Colonial League. In addition to its exceptional high school athletic teams, the Lehigh Valley is known nationally for its excellent math team, the Lehigh Valley Fire. The team won the ARML competition in 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011. They have placed in the top 10 teams nationally every year since 2009.
|Lehigh Valley IronPigs||IL||Baseball||Coca-Cola Park||2008||0|
|Lehigh Valley Phantoms||AHL||Ice hockey||PPL Center||1996||2|
|Lehigh Valley Steelhawks||NAL||Indoor football||PPL Center||2011||0|
|FC Sonic Lehigh Valley||NPSL||Soccer||Ulrich Sports Complex||2009||1 (2012)|
|Lehigh Valley Rollergirls||WFTDA||Roller Derby||Hamburg Field House||2006||0|
From 1996 until 2012, the Lehigh Valley was the home of pre-season training camp for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, which was held each summer on the practice fields of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
The Lehigh Valley Storm, a semi-professional football team, is based in Bethlehem. The Lehigh Valley also is home to the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, a National Arena League team, which began playing their home games at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem in 2011.
The Lehigh Valley is also home to a strong collegiate football rivalry, between two local colleges: Easton's Lafayette College and Bethlehem's Lehigh University. The two teams have played each other 150 times since 1884, making it the longest uninterrupted rivalry in college football.
In early 2008, Coca-Cola Park, an 8,100-seat Minor League baseball stadium, opened in east-side Allentown. The stadium hosts the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Philadelphia Phillies' AAA-level International League franchise. The team previously played as the Ottawa Lynx (1993-2007). The club's move to the Lehigh Valley brought the franchise closer to Philadelphia and the Phillies' large eastern Pennsylvania fan base. The team's name is a reference to pig iron, a key ingredient in the steel-making process for which the Lehigh Valley area is known worldwide.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for Coca-Cola Park were held September 6, 2006, and construction was completed in December 2007. The stadium hosted its first game on March 30, 2008, when the Phillies major league team faced the IronPigs.
Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center, which has been the training ground for numerous Olympians and U.S. national gymnastics champions, is based in Allentown. In 2003, CNN aired a documentary on Parkettes, Achieving the Perfect 10, which depicted it as a hugely demanding and competitive training program.
The 12 largest high schools in the Lehigh Valley compete athletically in the East Penn Conference. The conference has produced numerous professional and Olympic-level athletes, and its football, basketball and wrestling teams are often ranked among the best in the nation. In USA Todays annual ranking of the nation's top high school sports teams, Liberty High School was ranked second in the Eastern United States in football in 2008 and 20th among all high schools nationally. Parkland High School was ranked fifth in the East in football in 2002 and 11th among all high schools nationally. And Allentown Central Catholic High School was ranked seventh in girls' basketball in the East in both 2001-02 and 2002-03.
An additional 14 Lehigh Valley high schools too small to compete in the East Penn Conference compete in the Colonial League.
In March 2011, plans were announced for the creation of PPL Center, an 8,500-seat arena to be built in Allentown as the home for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Phantoms began play in Allentown starting with the 2014-15 season. The arena is located in downtown Allentown taking up the entire block between 7th and 8th Streets and Hamilton Boulevard and Linden Street. In a controversial decision, the city had declared eminent domain to help obtain the necessary properties and a contractor was chosen in 2012. Buildings on the site began to be demolished to make room for the new arena in January 2012.
Lehigh Valley Rollergirls (LVRG) is a women's flat track roller derby league based in the Lehigh Valley. Founded in January 2006, Lehigh Valley Rollergirls was the first skater-operated flat track roller derby league in the Lehigh Valley. LVRG is a member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association and competes against national and international teams. It hosts its home matches at Hamburg Field House in Hamburg.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon, which features a certified marathon, a five-person team relay, a 20-mile (32 km) training run and 5K walk is also held annually in September. The 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) course follows the Lehigh River Canal Towpath from Allentown to Easton. The marathon came under scrutiny in 2015 when Mike Rossi achieved viral fame after allegedly cheating in the marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In response, Via Marathon organizers added timing mats and video surveillance on-course.
Runner's World magazine, which is based out of Emmaus, has held the Runner's World Half Marathon and Festival in Bethlehem every October since 2012.
Lehigh University's Paul Short Run is held annually at the Goodman Cross Country Course and participation has climbed to over 5,000 runners spread throughout 14 college and high school races. The Emmaus 5K race is held annually in mid-October, coinciding with Emmaus' annual Halloween parade.
The Lehigh Valley is home to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, often called T-Town, which hosts UCI-sponsored events, regularly bringing athletes from all around the world to the Lehigh Valley and offering developmental programs producing many Olympic track cyclists.
The Allentown Art Museum, based in center city Allentown, is the Lehigh Valley's largest museum. The museum's collection includes more than 11,000 works of art. Lehigh University's Zoellner Arts Center and Lafayette College's smaller Williams Center for the Arts host a wide variety of plays, concerts and performances throughout the year. The Allentown Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Diane Wittry since 1995, performs fall through spring at the historic Miller Symphony Hall.
Bethlehem is also home to ArtsQuest, a non-profit that promotes Visual and Performing Arts in the Lehigh Valley. The ArtsQuest center and Steelstacks campus on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Company have several performing arts venues including the Levitt Pavilion and the Musikfest Cafe. The Banana Factory in Southside Bethlehem has several art studios and galleries open to the public.
Artsquest also hosts Musikfest every year in August. Musikfest is the largest free music festival in the country, bringing more than 1 million people to the region annually.
The Lehigh Valley is home to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, a popular amusement and water park. Located in South Whitehall Township, Dorney Park is known nationally for its elaborate roller coasters and water rides.
The region's ski resorts are Bear Creek Ski and Recreation Area and Blue Mountain Ski Area. Bear Creek is a 21 slope resort located outside of Macungie, Pennsylvania. Blue Mountain is located near Danielsville, Pennsylvania. The Poconos, which feature some of the East Coast's best-known ski resorts, is approximately 30 miles (48 km) north of the Lehigh Valley. Several large lakes used for boating and fishing also are located there. Pocono Raceway in the Poconos holds two NASCAR race weekends a year along with an IndyCar race. The region also hosts some of the best hiking in eastern Pennsylvania, including 30 miles of trails at the Trexler Nature Preserve.
Dutch Springs, the nation's largest SCUBA amusement park, is in Bethlehem and Lower Nazareth Township. Over 40,000 divers annually utilize the facilities, which have sunken "treasures" to enhance the underwater experience. In addition to scuba diving, kayaking and paddle boats are available. The facility has a water park, camping grounds, and picnic areas.
In 2009, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (now Wind Creek Bethlehem), an $879 million casino, hotel and apartment complex owned by the Las Vegas Sands, opened in Bethlehem, bringing legalized gambling to the Lehigh Valley for the first time. In 2019, Wind Creek Hospitality, an entity of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, acquired the casino and it gained its current name. It is one of only 13 authorized gaming sites in Pennsylvania.
Many large festivals are held each year in the Lehigh Valley. Musikfest, a large, 10-day music festival, is held in Bethlehem each August. In September, one of the largest Celtic heritage festivals in America, The Celtic Classic, is held in Bethlehem. The Great Allentown Fair has been held on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown annually in late August through early September for more than 150 years. Das Awkscht Fescht is an antique car festival that is held annually the beginning of August in Macungie's Memorial Park. "Blues, Brews, and Barbeque," which launched in 2014, is held annually at Cedar Beach Park on Lake Muhlenberg.
Ice skating (including ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating) is popular in the Lehigh Valley and the region has three facilities. The Steel Ice Center is the premier ice skating facility, in Bethlehem on East 1st Street, not far from the Sands Casino. The Rink, formerly Lehigh Valley Ice Arena, is in Whitehall (north of Allentown) just off MacArthur Road (Route 145) on 7th Street. Each facility has two ice surfaces and public skate times are available at both facilities. The City of Bethlehem also opens a covered outdoor rink (one ice surface) annually from November through March.
The Lehigh Valley is served by air transportation through Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE), in the Lehigh Valley's Hanover Township, three miles (5 km) northeast of Allentown.
The number of people using the airport fell by 24.3% from 723,556 in 2012 to 582,000 in 2014 and the airport had seen declines in passenger usage from the early 2000s when annual traffic twice hit levels above 1,000,000 passengers. It has, however, lately experienced a steady rebound in passenger traffic due to being a preferable alternative to the highly congested airports in Philadelphia and Newark, new improvements to its facilities and amenities, a fast growing regional population, and the addition of new routes. In 2016 it serviced 688,505 passengers, an increase of 2.2% from 2015.
Amazon.com leverages the Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) as one of only 11 locations in the country for their Prime Air shipping service. LVIA was one of the first airports selected for the pilot concept of the program due to its close proximity to large population centers, cost effectiveness, robust infrastructure, and comparative ease of use. This location now ships more merchandise, has more flights, and serves more people (over 75 million from Boston to Washington, D.C. as of late 2016) for Amazon than any other facility in the country. Both Amazon and LVIA continue to invest heavily in the local area to better support the ever-increasing demand for air cargo driven in large part by the explosion of e-commerce and the need for faster, more efficient delivery of merchandise.
Due to the same aforementioned reasons for Amazon increasing its operations at the airport, FedEx Ground has selected an area near LVIA to construct its largest terminal in the country. As of 2016, the airport ships more than 126 million pounds of cargo annually with growth of nearly 166% in cargo tonnage shipped between 2015 and 2016 alone. Companies such as Amazon.com and FedEx Ground are increasingly using the airport for these purposes which is a major factor in its growth.
The Valley is also served by Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport, a two-runway general aviation facility located off Allentown's Lehigh Street. Queen City is used predominantly by private aviation. The airport was awarded General Aviation Airport of the year by the Eastern Region of the Federal Aviation Administration in 2006.
Other general-aviation airports include Braden Airpark (also owned by the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority) near Easton, Hackettstown Airport in eastern Warren County, and Jake Arner Memorial Airport near Lehighton.
Public bus service in Lehigh Valley is available through the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, known as LANTA. In New Jersey, bus service is provided by NJ Transit including to Centre Square in Easton. Carbon County Community Transit provides service within Carbon County, to the Tamaqua area, and to the Lehigh Valley Mall via Walnutport.
The Lehigh Valley's inter-city bus links are to New York City, Reading, and Harrisburg, served by Klein Transportation, Fullington Trailways, Greyhound Lines, and Trans-Bridge Lines. The region has direct bus service to Philadelphia via OurBus. Martz Trailways stops in Allentown and at the Pocono interchange of Interstate 476 with service to Scranton via Wilkes-Barre and to Philadelphia. This is an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach route connecting to Amtrak at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
The Norfolk Southern Railway (owned by the Norfolk Southern Corporation), is the Lehigh Valley's major rail operator. Norfolk Southern Railway uses the former Lehigh Valley Railroad's main line, the Lehigh Line and also uses a former Reading Company (Reading Railroad) branch line, the Reading Line. Norfolk Southern Railway has major classification rail yards in Allentown and Bethlehem.
Unlike similarly-sized metropolitan regions, the Lehigh Valley has very limited passenger rail service. Only Hackettstown, in far eastern Warren County, sees regular passenger railway service. Around the Valley, passenger rail only gets as close as Doylestown and Annandale, both about 30 miles away. The closest Amtrak station to Allentown is Bryn Mawr, about 41 miles to the south. The rail hubs of Philadelphia and Newark are not much further, and provide the bulk of further intercity traffic from the Lehigh Valley. Bieber and Trans-Bridge Lines provide regular bus service from all over the Valley to both Philadelphia and Newark.
Passenger service to Allentown and Bethlehem ceased in 1981 when several rail operators opted to curtail long-distance services. From the south, SEPTA Regional Rail limited their services to their electrified-only territory with trains going only as far north as Lansdale and Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (In the early and mid twentieth century golden age of passenger rail, the Reading Railroad provided rail service south and west of the area.) To the east, the Central Railroad of New Jersey ceased passenger operations into the area, from Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1967 in conjunction with the Aldene Connection.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad, primarily using its main line, served the areas with freight transporting along with the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway and the Lehigh & New England Railroad. In 1974, passenger service was restored to Phillipsburg under state (New Jersey) subsidy. That service was terminated in 1984. All of the original railroads ultimately went bankrupt and were taken over by today's railroads. SEPTA removed the tracks approaching Allentown and Bethlehem from the south. The nearest rail station for travel south towards Philadelphia is in Lansdale, Pennsylvania on SEPTA's Lansdale/Doylestown Line. The nearest station for travel eastward is High Bridge, New Jersey on New Jersey Transit Rail Operations's Raritan Valley Line.
Current operator New Jersey Transit has looked at restoring rail service to Phillipsburg, New Jersey, but there are no official plans to extend service over the border into Pennsylvania at present. Nor are there official plans to restore SEPTA service to Philadelphia. Freight operator Norfolk Southern Railway, heavily serves the region with a major classification yards in Allentown and Bethlehem using the former Lehigh Valley Railroad main line and the former Reading Company branch line, the Lehigh Line and the Reading Line. Canadian Pacific Railway, another freight operator, also transports through the Lehigh Valley using the Lehigh Line and the Reading Line.
In November 2008, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), along with both Lehigh and Northampton Counties, commissioned a study to explore the merits of expanding New Jersey Transit rail to the Lehigh Valley, which would potentially include stops in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. The Lehigh Valley is currently the largest metropolitan area by population on the East Coast of the United States without passenger rail service of any kind. If plan succeeds, the Lehigh Line will then once again host passenger services for the first time since 1961.
The Lehigh Valley has four major highways: Interstate 78, a major east-west highway, runs through the southern part of the Valley, duplexed with Pennsylvania Route 309. I-78 runs from Lebanon County in the west, where Interstate 81 provides a connection to Harrisburg, to the Holland Tunnel and New York City in the east.
U.S. Route 22 is a major freeway that runs through the Valley from Kuhnsville in the western part of the Valley to Easton in the eastern part of the Valley. U.S. Route 22 starts in Cincinnati, Ohio in the west, running through the Valley to Newark, New Jersey in the east. A third highway, Pennsylvania Route 33, runs north-south through the Lehigh Valley, from the Poconos in the north to Northampton County in the south.
The fourth major highway in the Valley is Interstate 476, the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It stretches 131 miles (211 km) from Chester in the south to the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area in the north.
Other major roads in the Valley include MacArthur Road (PA 145), a divided local road that leads to the Lehigh Valley Mall and its surrounding commercial district. Cedar Crest Boulevard, a north-south highway, runs from North Whitehall Township in the north through west-side Allentown to Emmaus in the south. Lehigh Street runs from northeast to southwest, originating in downtown Allentown and ending in Emmaus. Tilghman Street runs from Fogelsville in the west to continue as Union Boulevard into Bethlehem in the east. Tilghman Street runs through most of Allentown and also intersects with Cedar Crest Boulevard, Pennsylvania Route 100, Pennsylvania Route 309 and several other major Lehigh Valley highways.
The Lehigh Valley area was once served only by the 215 area code from 1947 (when the North American Numbering Plan of the Bell System went into effect) until 1994. With the region's growing population, however, Lehigh Valley areas were afforded area code 610 in 1994. Today, the Lehigh Valley is mainly covered by 610. An overlay area code, 484, was added to the 610 service area in 1999. A plan to introduce area code 835 as an additional overlay was rescinded in 2001.Area code 570 serves the majority of Carbon County and the Portland exchange in Northampton County. Area code 908 serves Warren County and area code 215 serves the portion of extreme southern Lehigh County in the Pennsburg exchange.
The Lehigh Valley AVA was designated an official American Viticultural Area in March, 2008. The wine region includes 230 acres (93 ha) of vineyards, planted to several Vitis vinifera and French-American hybrid grape varieties. Blue Mountain Vineyards in New Tripoli accounts of over 50 acres in the region and has won national and international awards. Fifteen to twenty percent of the wine produced commercially in Pennsylvania is made from grapes grown in the Lehigh Valley AVA. The Warren Hills AVA includes all of Warren County southeast of Paulins Kill.
The Lehigh Valley is the birthplace or home to a number of famous Americans, including:
|Geographic area||July 1, 2005||Census 2000||1990 Census||1980 Census||1970 Census|
|Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA||790,535||740,395||686,688||635,481||594,382|
|Carbon County, Pennsylvania||61,959||58,802||56,846||53,285||50,573|
|Lehigh County, Pennsylvania||330,433||312,090||291,130||272,349||255,304|
|Northampton County, Pennsylvania||287,767||267,066||247,105||225,418||214,368|
|Warren County, New Jersey||110,376||102,437||91,607||84,429||73,960|
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