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The History of Bethlehem, PA

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The article below is sponsored by the personal injury attorneys in Bethlehem, PA, who would like to share some insight on the community. We hope you enjoy learning about the neighborhood as much as we did.


The city of Bethlehem belongs to both Lehigh and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania. Bethlehem has a rich history and is a prominent city in Pennsylvania. The entire city spans 19.46 square miles and hosts a population of 75,815 with a population density of 3,966.26 per square mile. Bethlehem is generally divided into four sections, each one featuring several historic sites. The city is considered the seventh-largest city in Pennsylvania, offering residents and visitors access to several parks, shops, and restaurants.


Lenni Lenape Indians originally inhabited the land of Bethlehem. The Native American tribe was divided into three divisions, each speaking their own dialect of the Algonquian language. When Dutch and English settlers arrived, the Native American tribes traded with them for several years. By the early 1700s, prominent politician William Allen bought the land and granted several acres to the Moravian Church. Throughout the following years, Bethlehem remained a prominent protestant community and was christened in 1741 on Christmas Eve when several community members gathered to sing “Not Jerusalem, Lowly Bethlehem." After that night, the town was named Bethlehem after the biblical town in Judea, which is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus in the Christian faith.

Throughout the 1700s, Bethlehem thrived as a Moravian Settlement Congregation. The church entirely ran the town, and community members built several mills, blacksmith shops, and wash houses. The Moravians lived a communal lifestyle aiming to be self-sufficient and only send members outside the community for missionary work. Today, several buildings remain from that period, including the Gemeinhaus House, the Old Chapel, and the Sister's House.

In the 1800s, Bethlehem saw a drastic change with the industrial revolution. The community no longer could be prosperous selling handmade goods as the demand for cheap goods increased. By the 1850s, the large corporations found the area, and Bethlehem eventually became the second-largest steel producer in the United States. During this time, Bethlehem was officially incorporated into a borough in Northampton County. In the following years, after the civil war, Bethlehem declared two boroughs named the borough of South Bethlehem and the borough of West Bethlehem (1886). In 1917, South Bethlehem merged with Bethlehem. The merger created the city of Bethlehem as it is known today.

Historic Sites

The borough of Bethlehem is a longstanding community with a rich history. The town pride itself on maintaining a connection to its roots through several historical landmarks and museums. For visitors looking to learn more about the prominent community, there are several museums worth visiting, including:

  • The Moravian Museum
  • The Colonial Industrial Quarter Museum
  • The Moravian Blacksmith Shop
  • The Bell House
  • The Single Sister's House

If you want to learn more about Bethlehem's neighboring towns, be sure to check out: Discover Freemansburg, PA

Our Local Office

If you have been hurt in an accident, contact the Bethlehem, PA, personal injury attorneys to discover your legal options. Call or local office today for a free consultation.

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817 Linden St #103
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 403-9675

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David Petrone
Date Published: July 5, 2021
David Petrone is a personal injury attorney at Justice Guardians.
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This website is sponsored by Justice Guardians, LLC. We have offices in Pennsylvania with attorneys licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Use of this site does not form an attorney-client relationship and information herein shall not be construed as legal advice. This website is to be considered as ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. Past settlement and verdict values are no guarantee of similar future outcomes. This firm may retain local counsel for prosecuting cases and while this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases are referred to other attorneys for principal responsibility.
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