In the 1960s, the city of Bethlehem was rushing into the future. On the south side, Lehigh University razed several blocks north of Packer Avenue to expand its campus. On the north side, a modern City Center rose in 1967 where a neighborhood—family homes, stores, and churches—had been. By 1968 a new spur route, extending Route 378 to the north, sliced through Bethlehem just west of the historic district.
Successful historic preservation and restoration has erased from the landscape the messiness, the squalor but also the promise, that characterized the old industrial district of Bethlehem in the 1960s and early 1970s. Tamar Bair’s camera preserved, ironically, what urban renewal erased. We must be thankful that, not knowing what the future would bring, she photographed her neighborhood at this moment of transition.