Residents and Business owners along 19th Street in the West End Theatre District recently joined Mayor Ed Pawlowski to celebrate the completion of Phase One of a 3.1 million streetscape improvement project. The group gathered outside Civic Theatre 514 to note the improvements along the 500 and 600 blocks which stretches from Liberty Street North to Tilghman Street. This first phase includes new streetlights, which resemble classic gas lamps, new sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, new trees and landscaping, new benches, and additional aesthetic and structural enhancements.
The West End Theatre district is a neighborhood that encompasses the area between 17th and 22nd and Liberty and Washington Streets and features more than 150 retail and commercial businesses. The district borders the Allentown Fairgrounds to the South, Lehigh Valley Hospital to the East, and Muhlenberg College to the West.
The 19th St. corridor’s crown jewel is the 19th Street Theatre, home to the Civic Theatre, a community center that hosts live theatre productions, independent and foreign films, and arts education programs for children from four years old to High School seniors. Famous alumni of Civic Theater include Hollywood Actors Amanda Seyfried, Christine Taylor, Dan Roebuck and Michaela Conlin.
The 500-seat theatre opened in 1928, and stages more than 50 public performances a year including four to six Broadway musicals, classic dramas, and award-winning contemporary plays from on and off Broadway.
Civic Theater 514, located directly across the street, is a 60-seat Black Box Theatre that shows films when productions are being staged in the main theater. The West End Theatre District also includes the Pines Dinner Theater, on the grounds of the Allentown Fairgrounds.
Funding for the streetscape and infrastructure project includes $1.5 million from the City of Allentown, $1.5 million in RACP funds from the State of Pennsylvania, and $100,000 from the Allentown Fairgrounds. Lehigh County provided a grant for the planning of the project.