The one thing that most people know about Allentown is that Billy Joel wrote a song about it. The single came out in 1982, during a recession: “Well we’re living here in Allentown / And they’re closing all the factories down.” So when Americans think about this city in eastern Pennsylvania at all, they think about vanishing jobs, industrial blight, and shattered dreams.
“The song has it wrong,” says Pat Toomey, a Republican who used to represent the area in Congress. “It has nothing in common with Allentown or the region in 2010. The story of the Lehigh Valley is a story of economic resurgence, with the caveat that we’re going through a bad downturn right now.”