|Founded||March 6, 1812|
|Named for||Lehigh River|
|• Total||348 sq mi (900 km2)|
|• Land||345 sq mi (890 km2)|
|• Water||3.1 sq mi (8 km2) 0.9%%|
|• Density||1,046/sq mi (404/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Lehigh County (Pennsylvania Dutch: Lechaa Kaundi) is a county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As of the 2020 census, the county's population was 374,557. Its county seat is Allentown, the state's third-largest city after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Lehigh County and Northampton County to its east combine to form the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania. Lehigh County is one of the fastest-growing counties in Pennsylvania and the more highly populated of the two counties. Both counties are part of the Philadelphia television market, the fourth-largest television market in the nation.
The county is named for the Lehigh River, a 109-mile-long (175 km) tributary of the Delaware River, which flows through Lehigh County. The Lehigh River served a vital role in the county's development by offering a transportation and trading route for its mining products, including iron, manganese, limestone, and ultimately manufactured steel products.
Lehigh County falls geographically between two Pennsylvania Appalachian mountain ridges, Blue Mountain to the county's north and South Mountain to its south. The county is located 61 miles (98 km) northwest of Philadelphia and 99 miles (159 km) west of New York City.
Lehigh County was first settled around 1730 and was formed in 1812 when Northampton County was divided into two counties. The county is named after the Lehigh River, a 109-mile-long (175 km) river that runs through the county and whose name is derived from the Lenape Indian term Lechauweki or Lechauwekink, meaning "where there are forks." Shelter House, constructed in Emmaus in 1734 by Pennsylvania German settlers, is the oldest continuously occupied structure in both Lehigh County and Lehigh Valley and among the oldest still-standing building structures in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.
See also: Liberty Bell Museum
Further information: Pennsylvania in the American Revolution
Some of the first resistance to British colonialism, which led ultimately to the American Revolutionary War, began in present day Lehigh County. On December 21, 1774, patriots in the area formed one of the colonies' first Committee of Observations. Following the Declaration of Independence, patriot militas pressured Tories out of Allentown and the surrounding area, and the colonial government in the area began to break down.
After Washington and the Continental Army were defeated at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, the revolutionary capital of Philadelphia was left defenseless and Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council ordered that eleven Philadelphia bells, including the Liberty Bell (then known as the State House Bell), be taken down and moved to present day Allentown (then called Northampton Towne) and hidden in the basement of Zion Reformed Church on present day West Hamilton Street to protect them from being melting down by the British Army for use as munitions. The Liberty Bell's successful protection in Allentown is commemorated in the Liberty Bell Museum, located in Zion Reformed Church in Allentown.
The opening of the Lehigh Canal beginning in 1827 transformed Allentown and Lehigh County from a rural agricultural area dominated by German-speaking people into an urbanized industrialized area and expanded the city's commercial and industrial capacity greatly. With this, Lehigh County underwent significant industrialization, ultimately becoming a major 20th century center for heavy industry and manufacturing and one of several hubs for the Industrial Revolution.
Following the Union Army's defeat at the Battle of Fort Sumter and Lincoln's April 15, 1861 proclamation calling for state militia to provide 75,000 volunteer troops to defend the nation's capital of Washington, D.C., Allentown deployed the Allen Infantry, also known as the Allen Guards and composed of volunteers from Allentown and its surrounding suburbs. The unit mustered in for duty on April 18, 1861. As the Civil War progressed, multiple Union Army units were drawn from Lehigh County, including roughly seventy percent of the 47th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.
On October 19, 1899, a monument in honor of the Lehigh County men killed in their volunteer service to preservation of the Union, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, was erected at Seventh and Hamilton Streets in Center City Allentown where it still stands.
Lehigh County has a total area of 348 square miles (900 km2), 345 square miles (890 km2) of which is land and 3.1 square miles (8.0 km2) (0.9%) of which is water.
Lehigh County borders two Appalachian mountain ridges. To the north, the county borders Blue Mountain, which has an altitude of 1,300 to 1,604 feet (396 to 489 m). To the south, it is bordered by South Mountain, which has an altitude of 700 to 1,100 feet (210 to 340 m) and cuts through the southern portions of both Lehigh and Northampton counties. The Lehigh County's highest point is near Germansville at Bake Oven Knob, a mass of Tuscarora conglomeratic rocks that rise about 100 feet (30 m) above the main Blue Mountain ridge in northwestern Heidelberg Township.
Lehigh County is part of the Delaware River watershed. Most of the county is drained by the Lehigh River and its tributaries, though the Schuylkill River also drains regions in the county's south through Perkiomen Creek and (in the county's northwest) through Maiden Creek.
See also: Climate of Allentown, Pennsylvania
Lehigh County's climate falls in the humid continental climate zone. The variety is hot-summer (Dfa) except in the county's higher elevation areas, where it is warm-summer (Dfb). Summers are typically hot and muggy, fall and spring are generally mild, and winter is cold. Precipitation is almost uniformly distributed throughout the year.
In Allentown, January lows average −6 °C (21 °F) and highs average 1.3 °C (34.3 °F). The lowest officially recorded temperature was −26.7 °C (−16.1 °F) in 1912. July lows average 17.6 °C (63.7 °F) and highs average 29.2 °C (84.6 °F) with an average relative humidity of 82%. The highest temperature on record was 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) in 1966. Early fall and mid-winter are generally driest with October being the driest month with only 74.7 mm of average precipitation.
Snowfall is variable with some winters bringing light snow and others bringing numerous significant snowstorms. Average snowfall is 82.3 centimetres (32.4 in) per year, with the months of January and February receiving the most now with just over 22.86 centimetres (9.00 in) in each of these months. Rainfall is generally spread throughout the year with eight to twelve wet days per month, at an average annual rate of 110.54 centimetres (43.52 in).
|Climate data for Allentown, Pennsylvania (Lehigh Valley International Airport) 1991-2020 normals (Records x-2021)|
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Average high °F (°C)||38.4
|Daily mean °F (°C)||30.1
|Average low °F (°C)||21.8
|Record low °F (°C)||−15
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.30
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||9.8
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||11||10||11||12||12||11||11||10||10||10||9||12||129|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5||4||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||16|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2020 census, the county's population was 374,557. The county's population growth of 7.2% since 2010 is among the fastest in the state. The racial makeup of the county, as of the 2020 census, was 60.8% White, 26% Hispanic or Latino, 6.12% Black or African American, 3.66% Asian, 3.33% from other or mixed races, 0.02% Pacific Islander, and 0.1% Native American.
As of November 7, 2022, there were 245,784 registered voters in Lehigh County:
Lehigh County and neighboring Northampton County are part of Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional district. The 7th Congressional district is a contentious swing district with neither Republicans nor Democrats winning the district consistently. Voters elected Republican Charlie Dent in 2004, 2006, and 2008 and, previously, Republican Pat Toomey in 1998, 2000, and 2002. In 2004, the county narrowly voted for John Kerry over George W. Bush for President. In 2008, all statewide Democratic candidates won the county with significant leads and, in the presidential election, Barack Obama won the county, 57.1% to 41.5%, over John McCain. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama again carried the county but by a narrower margin, 53.17% to 45.52%.
|132||Michael H. Schlossberg||Democratic|
Lehigh County's primary commercial airport is Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE), located in Hanover Township in the county. The county is also served by Allentown Queen City Municipal Airport, a two-runway general aviation facility located off Lehigh Street in Allentown used predominantly by private aviation.
Public bus service in Lehigh County is available through the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, known as LANTA. Several private bus lines, including Trans-Bridge Lines, provide bus service from Allentown to New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal, Philadelphia's Greyhound Terminal and 30th Street Station, Atlantic City's Bus Terminal, and other regional locations.
Main article: Media in the Lehigh Valley
See also: List of films shot in the Lehigh Valley
The Morning Call (in Allentown), The Express-Times (in Easton), and The Times News (in Lehighton) each cover Lehigh County.
Lehigh County-area radio stations include WAEB-AM in Allentown (talk and news), B104 in Allentown (contemporary hits), WZZO in Bethlehem (classic rock), WHOL in Allentown (rhythmic contemporary), and others. Some major New York City stations and every major Philadelphia station are received in the county.
Lehigh County is part of the Philadelphia broadcast media market, the nation's fourth-largest media market. Numerous New York City radio and television stations are also carried in the county. Three television stations are based in the county, WBPH-TV Channel 60, WLVT Channel 39 (the Lehigh Valley's PBS affiliate), and WFMZ Channel 69 (an independent television station).
The four major Philadelphia-based network stations serving Lehigh County are KYW-TV (the CBS affiliate), WCAU (the NBC affiliate), WPVI (the ABC affiliate), and WTXF (the Fox affiliate). The four major New York City-based network stations serving Lehigh County are WABC (the ABC affiliate), WCBS-TV (the CBS affiliate), WNBC (the NBC affiliate), and WNYW (the Fox affiliate). The four major Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-based network stations serving Lehigh County are WNEP-TV (the ABC affiliate), WBRE-TV (the NBC affiliate), WYOU (the CBS affiliate), and WOLF-TV (the Fox affiliate).
Main article: Area codes 610, 484, and 835
From 1947 until 1994, Lehigh County was served exclusively by the 215 area code. With the county's growing population, area code 610 was also allocated to the county in 1994. Today, Lehigh County is covered largely by the 610 area code. An overlay area code, 484, was added to the 610 service area in 1999. A plan to introduce area code 835 as an additional overlay was rescinded in 2001. It has since been reintroduced and will begin use once 610 and 484 extensions are exhausted, possibly as early as September 2022.
See also: Culture of Allentown, Pennsylvania
Main article: Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, one of the largest amusement and water parks on the U.S. East Coast, is located in South Whitehall Township in the county. It is open May through the end of October.
The Great Allentown Fair, one of the nation's largest and longest ongoing city fairs, is held annually at Allentown Fairgrounds on North 17th Street in Allentown the end of August and beginning of September. Mayfair, an arts and festival fair, is held annually in May on the campus of Cedar Crest College in Allentown.
See also: Saucon Valley Country Club
Lehigh County is home to multiple golf courses, including Brookside Country Club in Macungie, Lehigh Country Club on Cedar Crest Boulevard in Allentown, Olde Homestead Golf Club in New Tripoli, Saucon Valley Country Club in Upper Saucon Township, Shepherd Hills Golf Club in Wescosville, and Wedgewood Golf Course in Coopersburg.
The county has several museums, including Allentown Art Museum, America on Wheels, Da Vinci Science Center, George Taylor House, Jacob Ehrenhardt Jr. House, Lehigh County Historical Society at Trout Hall, Liberty Bell Museum, Museum of Indian Culture, and others.
Lehigh Valley Zoo is located in Schnecksville in the county and is open year-round. Lehigh County also has 25 acres (100,000 m2) of public parks, including:
Under Pennsylvania law, there are four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, in only one case, towns. The following cities, boroughs, and townships are located in Lehigh County:
See also: List of Allentown neighborhoods
Census-designated places are geographical areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for the purposes of compiling demographic data. They are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, may be listed here as well.
Lehigh County's largest cities, townships, boroughs, and other communities, based on the 2020 census, include:
† county seat
|Rank||City/Town/etc.||Municipal type||Population (2020 Census)|
|2||Bethlehem (mostly in Northampton County)||City||74,982|
Since its founding in 1812, Lehigh County has been the birthplace or home to several notable Americans, including: