Stronger Than Steel: Forging a Rust Belt Renaissance

Stronger Than Steel: Forging a Rust Belt Renaissance

by Jeffrey A Parks

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781732063617
Publication date: 05/10/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 396
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Jeffrey A. Parks is a lawyer in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1983 Parks launched his career as a Social Entrepreneur by conceiving a signature festival: Musikfest, which is now the largest free admission music festival in America, held in the city's small, historic downtown every August. Parks founded a German style holiday market, Christkindlmarkt, to support the downtown and the Christmas City brand, followed by the creation of an arts center in an old banana distribution warehouse near the closed Bethlehem Steel Plant. After a visit to Germany's Ruhr Valley, he developed the concept of a cluster of arts activities around the dormant Bethlehem Steel Blast Furnaces. The arts and culture campus became the highly successful, award winning SteelStacks. The non-profit ArtsQuest, led by Parks for its first 32 years now operates the two campuses and serves two million people each year with over 2,000 arts and cultural programs. SteelStacks is one of only three real estate projects to be awarded the Urban Land Institute's Global Award for Excellence and the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence. ArtsQuest is widely credited with the success of Bethlehem in navigating the travails of deindustrialization and suburbanization to become a culturally and economically robust twenty-first-century city. Parks serves as Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has served on the Board of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the jury for The Waterfront Center Awards for Excellence, Discover Lehigh Valley (tourism promotion agency) and the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. He is a frequent speaker on the topic arts and post-industrial revitalization. Parks also serves as Vice President of Alibi Music Library, a music production library. Since retiring from ArtsQuest he has become engaged in residential real estate development. While Parks and his wife Susan are the current caretakers of their 1895 Victorian home in Bethlehem's Moravian Historic District, they also enjoy traveling, with favorite spots including Meran, Italy; Sedona, Arizona and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. The canine that shares their home these days is a Havanese rescue named "Folly". Parks is a graduate of Lehigh University and the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents


Prologue: The Day the Candles Died, November 18, 1995

I. The Rise and Fall of an American Industrial City: An Abbreviated History of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania   1741-1982


1. Moravians

2. The Industrialists

3. Immigrants and Migrants

4. Sprawl, Blight, Preservation, and Renewal

5. A Bold New Plan for Downtown

6. Deindustrialization


II. A New Paradigm, 1982–2000


7. Tourism: An Economic Development Fantasy

8. A Signature Festival

9. Financing a Vision

10. Festival Entrepreneurship

11. The Summer of ’84

12. Musikfest Unveiled

13. “A Success Beyond Anyone’s Wildest Dreams”

14. Growing Roots

15. Growing Pains

16. Keeping Christmas in the Christmas City

17. The Banana Factory Arts Center

18. The Millennium

19. The Lehigh Valley Emerges


III. Transformation: SteelStacks and the Redevelopment of the Bethlehem Steel Plant, 1992–2016


20. The Last Will and Testament of Bethlehem Steel

21. A Change of Plan

22. And the New Owners Are . . .

23. Gambling on the Future

24. Designing a Twenty-first-Century Performing Arts Center

25. Raising Money in a Recession

26. SteelStacks: Campus, Staff, and Programs

27. A New Era Begins

28. Bethlehem at 275

29. Why the Arts Are Essential to Community Development

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