Monocacy Park, Bethlehem PA

pavilions and dam

Monocacy Park, an outstanding example of WPA landscape architecture, was an unexpected find while we were in Bethlehem.  Sometimes, in spite of searching scholarly sources and archival data, the fortuitous result of a google search turns up something–voila! A news article about restoration work in Monocacy Park led me to locate this park and photograph what was undeniably the prettiest of the New Deal locations I visited on the recent trip to the northeast.

WPA 1937While many WPA projects bear a metal plaque, much of the stone work is marked with either stylized concrete such as the WPA and 1937 incorporated into this bench niche, or chiseled into the stone itself. The park was constructed 1936-1937 on a section of land purchased from the Illick’s Mill in 1907 (Jason Rehm, August 22, 2013, This week in Bethlehem history: Monocacy Park, a WPA project, Bethlehem Press). Under the leadership of city councilman and head of the Parks and Public Property Department Ario Wear, the city submitted plans for park development of the property to the Works Progress Administration.

Monococy Park opened with an August 1937 concert attended by 2,000 people.  The Fox Environmental Center received a $20,000 grant to restore some of the stonework in the park, such as the retaining wall and the stone columns at the entrance to the park.  Work was begun in June 2014, but the Fox Center closed in July, and I assume the work ended with the center.


This entry was posted in landscape architecture, New Deal Administration, Pennsylvania, Works Progress Administration and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Monocacy Park, Bethlehem PA

  1. Susan Lentz says:

    this is a real beauty! I hope it can be ‘healed’ as it would be a shame to lose any more of this beautiful place.


    • Suzassippi says:

      The parts I saw seemed to be in good shape. I think the primary damage was along the retaining wall at the front of the park. Unfortunately, the center became the subject of a grand jury investigation which led to its demise.


  2. Beth says:

    Beautiful! How different to see the raised lettering marker, but more efficient than the impressed ones I’ve seen that are eroding.


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