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flag  History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Journey back in time to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Visit Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA - View on South Main Street, Bethlehem, Pa.

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 came to set up missionary communities among the Native Americans and unchurched German-speaking Christians. They named the settlement after the Biblical town Bethlehem of Judea, the birthplace of Jesus.

There is MUCH more to discover about Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA. Read on!

Bethlehem Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

View on South Main Street, Bethlehem, Pa.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

View on South Main Street, Bethlehem, Pa.
General Office, Bethlehem Steel Co.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

General Office, Bethlehem Steel Co.
Hill to Hill Bridge
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Hill to Hill Bridge

Discover Bethlehem: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1741 - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania founded
1854 - Bethlehem
Bethlehem, a post-township of Northamp ton county, Pennsylvania, on the Lehigh river, 7 miles W. by S. from Easton. Population, including the borough of same name, 3020.

Bethlehem, a post-borough in the above township, on the left bank of the Lehigh river, 1 1 miles above Easton, and 51 miles N. from Philadelphia. It has a pleasant and commanding situation, and is an agreeable place of resort in summer. This town was founded in 1741 by the Moravians, who have a large stone church in the Gothic style, 142 feet long ; and a female seminary which en joys a high reputation, besides other schools and benevolent institutions. There is a bridge 400 feet long across the Lehigh at this place. The town contains several flouring and saw mills. Population, 2104.
A New and Complete Gazetteer of the United States: Giving a Full and Comprehensive Review of the Present Condition, Industry, and Resources of the American Confederacy ... Thomas Baldwin (of Philadelphia.) Joseph Thomas January 1, 1854 Philadelphia : Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854.
South Bethlehem, Penn., Oct. 7. - A fire broke out this morning under the stage of the Grand Opera House. When the alarm was given the flames had gained much headway, and it was at once seen that it was impossible to save the building or its contents. South Bethlehem firemen responded promptly, but they had no steamer, and the engine of the rolling mill was utilized to pump water. The Bethlehem steamers were asked to come to the scene and lend their aid, but they refused to respond unless ordered to do so by the Chief of the Fire Department. After hunting high and low for the Chief he was found, and finally gave his consent to send the Bethlehem department to the scene. This was almost two hours after the fire broke out. The roof had fallen in and carried all the walls down to the first story with it. The front part of the opera house, H. J. JACOB'S jewelry store, and the Bethlehem Iron Company's store, which was packed with all kinds of dry goods, carpets, groceries, &c., with nearly ... Read MORE...

1895 - Bethlehem
Bethlehem, a post-borough and summer resort of Northampton co., Pa., is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Lehigh River, and in Bethlehem township, 5 miles E. of Allentown, 55 miles N. of Philadelphia, and 12 miles S.W. of Easton. It is the N. terminus of the North Pennsylvania Railroad, which here connects with the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad. The Lehigh & Lackawanna Railroad extends from this place northward. It was founded by the Moravians in 1741, and has a school called Moravian Seminary for Young Ladies, and a Moravian theological seminary. One daily, and 1 weekly newspaper, and a monthly Moravian periodical in German, are published here. Bethlehem has 2 national banks, 13 churches, and several breweries, tanneries, and mills. A bridge across the river connects this town with South Bethlehem, the seat of Lehigh University (Protestant Episcopal), which was founded in 1866 by Asa Packer, who gave it an endowment of $500,000. In the... Read MORE...

1909 - Blizzard bound in Bethlehems
Special to The Inquirer.

BETHLEHEM, Pa., Dec. 27. - The Bethlehems were today still blizzard-bound, with business conditions thoroughly paralyzed. Along the lines of the Lehigh Valley Transit Company more than twenty-five cars are hopelessly snowed in. The Blue Ridge, Slate Belt, South Bethlehem and Saucon trolley companies are totally tied up. The Lehigh Valley Railroad finds it necessary to use two engines to move trains.

The North Penn branch of the Philadelphia and Reading has succeeded in getting one track open between here and Philadelphia, and several hundred men are employed in cutting away the huge drifts that heap the other track. Near Sellersville four large locomotives were stuck in drifts. Four trains from Philadelphia were tied up at Lansdale all night. Several theatre parties from here who went to Allentown on Christmas night were forced to spend the night in stalled trolley cars.

Dairymen took to the fields to bring milk to town.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 28, 1909
Special to The New York Times.
Bethlehem, Penn., Oct. 31. - The main building of the Moravian College and Theological Seminary known as Comenius Hall, was destroyed by fire this evening.

Many of the students were away at Halloween parties, and it is believed that all those who remained in the building got out safely, but several firemen were injured while fighting the flames.

The fire started in the basement of the beautiful structure, but just how could not be ascertained tonight. It shot up the elevator shaft and with lightning-like rapidity spread throughout the top floor, which was used as a dormitory. It then worked its way downward until nothing but the blackened stone walls remained.

The loss, it is believed, may reach about $100,000 on the main building, on which there is about $18,000 insurance, with $5,000 on the contents. The insurance on the $25,000 library is $17,000, and on the chapel $6,000.
The New York Times
New York, New York
November 1, 1913
Bethlehem, a banking post-borough and summer-re sort of Northampton co., Pa., is pleasantly situated on the loft bank of the Lehigh River, 5 miles E. of Allentown and 55 miles N. of Philadelphia. It is on the Philadelphia and Reading, the Lehigh Valley and the Central New Jersey Rs. The borough was founded by the Christian sect of the Moravians in 1740-41, and has various Moravian schools and seminaries. Bethlehem has silk- and knitting- mills, white-lead and paint-works, etc. It is connected by bridge with South Bethlehem, the seat of Lehigh University and of extensive iron- and steel-plants. See South Bethlehem. Pop. in 1890, 6762; in 1900, 7293.
Lippincotts New Gazetteer: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World, Containing the Most Recent and Authentic Information Respecting the Countries, Cities, Towns, Resorts, Islands, Rivers, Mountains, Seas, Lakes, Etc., in Every Portion of the Globe, Part 1 Angelo Heilprin Louis Heilprin - January 1, 1916 J.B. Lippincott - Publisher
Philadelphia (AP) - Rain-swollen rivers rampaged through eastern Pennsylania today, causing at least nine deaths and isolating towns and cities. The threat was still increasing in some communities.
The swiftly rising waters marooned 650 youngsters on two island camps in the Delaware River about 10 miles north of Philadelphia. They virtually cut off Scranton and smaller communities from passage, and brought a major flood warning at Bethlehem.

Another 310 persons were stranded in two Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad trains in the Pocono Mountains between Cresco and Tobyhanna. The railroad said the 2nd Army had promised helicopters would try to remove the passengers.

9 Inches Of Rain.
In addition to the known deaths, other persons were unaccounted for.
Rains totaled more than 9 inches in one sector.

While Pennsylvania was hardest hit by what was left by Hurricane DIANE, there were floods throughout a wide area of the northeast United States...

...Bethlehem...

2023 - Here's a list of places to visit and activities to enjoy in Bethlehem:
SteelStacks: Explore the iconic SteelStacks, the former Bethlehem Steel plant turned arts and cultural campus. You can catch live music performances, festivals, and events in this unique industrial setting. Don't forget to admire the massive blast furnaces that are beautifully illuminated at night.

Moravian Museum of Bethlehem: Immerse yourself in Bethlehem's Moravian history by visiting the Moravian Museum. It offers guided tours that take you through the 1741 Gemeinhaus, the oldest building in town, and the 1752 Apothecary.

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites: Wander through the Historic District and explore various museums and sites, including the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts, 1810 Goundie House, and the Colonial Industrial Quarter. Each offers a unique glimpse into Bethlehem's past.

Bethlehem Rose Garden: Take a leisurely stroll through the Bethlehem Rose Garden, a beautiful spot with over 1,200 roses, walking paths, and sculptures. It's a peaceful oasis in the heart... Read MORE...

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Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

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Updated: 10/15/2023 7:45:24 AM