I hear a lot of Allentown reviews criticizing Allentown as some sort of a dangerous slum. Frankly I think that is a bit ridiculous. Allentown for ever however small it seems compared to major urban centers, is the 3 largest city in Pa. Because of this its going to have 'large' city problems, such as pockets of poverty and the sequel that often comes with that. HOWEVER, Allentown is also a walkable, affordable, relatively friendly, place. Its park systems are absolutely beautiful.
I am a woman and have been a walking and bike commuter most of my life. And I worked in center city area for >6 years. I never felt like I was in personal danger at anytime. If you look at most of the crime occurring in Allentown it is happening among people who are acquainted with one another and is either drug or domestic violence related. If you are not into drug trafficking and in a safe relationship, your chances of personal harm are relatively low.
If you want a lovely forested neighborhood, anything west of 19th is nice - like a suburb within a city. Allentown also has a hidden gem of a lovely downtown historic district. There are some houses that are so beautiful, old and well maintained in relatively poorer neighborhoods. I wouldn't discourage people from living in these either. These east coast cities have tightly bound walkable communities near lots of little whole in the wall restaurants with great food. There is a certain charm to it.
Allentown is also a very diverse community. The block I grew up on as a kid had families from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Viet nam, and old PA dutch lady living on a city block. I think its an advantage to be in a mulch-ethnic place. Its something I personally look for when relocating.
My biggest complaint about the city? - its school system. It is extremely underfunded and as of this date, has slashed and burned their arts and music programs. One of the biggest reasons families move out of the city is the get their kids into a better school district. And I don't blame them! If you make enough money there are some very good private schools, but most people just don't have the income for it.
You can get everywhere in the area in roughly half an hour or less. The suburbs are lovely too, I'm not knocking them. I understand completely understand there appeal. It just depends what you are looking for. if you are comfortable with being an urban dweller, Allentown is a pretty good hybrid of urban and small town wrapped into one.
My family settled here in 1753 and I have been a citizen and lived in the same neighborhood for 64 plus years.
About 25 years ago a former Mayor invited people from NY, NJ and PR to move here and settle here. He was going for more Federal Funding and housing.
What we have now is MORE crime and MORE criminals to a degree never known before and for sure not in my 64 years. We had to wait an hour and 20 minutes for a police officer. The police explained there is now a waiting list for calls. The new Police Sub Station is 5 minutes walk from our home and we had to wait an hour and 20 minutes for the police officer
I took a Police Academy Course provided by our Lehigh Co. D.A. We learned if you own a Honda it WILL BE STOLEN OR STRIPPED AT LEAST ONCE WHILE YOU OWN IT.
There is now a Dominican Gang using machetes on Allentown Streets to rob people in Allentown. Both Philadelphia and Reading have had attacks on citizens with machetes as well.
Allentown is a landfill of crime, gangs, drugs and criminals. If you can drive around it but do not drive here unless you keep your living will on your flash drive.
I have only visited the city of Allentown, once. Still, I have fond memories of this beautiful city which kept on impressing me, everyday that I stayed there. My visit to Allentown was part of a training session at the imposing Muhlenberg College. As the class ended at 5 o' clock in the evening, I had plenty of time to drive around the city and explore the attractions.
Apart from a couple of shabby neighborhoods, Allentown is perhaps the cleanest large city in entire Pennsylvania. There are so many tree lined streets with either Victorian or Federal rowhomes that you cannot resist the temptation of permanently moving to Allentown. As fate would have it, I almost got a job at Allentown but rejected it on the basis of extensive travel.
Yet, I still remember the distinct taste of local favorites. Lebanon Bologna and Birch Beer, were some of the foods I tasted during an informal cooking session at a food show. For gourmet food lovers, there are few better places than Allentown. In fact, there are so many ethnic restaurants in Allentown which provide dishes that I am sure it would take an entire lifetime to learn how to pronounce their names. I also visited WildWater Kingdom, adjacent to Dorney Park and enjoyed every second of it. If you have kids, don't forget to stop at these parks because they are probably the most popular venue, after Six Flags in New Jersey.