On any weekday, more than 50 buses leave the Lehigh Valley for New York City.
When baseball season begins, whole blocks of row houses in Easton sprout Yankees flags.
Lehigh Valley residents settle into season seats when the curtain goes up at Lincoln Center for a Metropolitan Opera performance and when Lorin Maazels baton comes down at Carnegie Hall for a New York Philharmonic concert.
Annual holiday trips to New York to see Macys windows, the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show and the sparkling Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center are must-dos for many families here.
To the south, Bucks County has long been a woodsy haven for New York artists, musicians and literati. To the north, Monroe County is filling with New York transplants, and more than 24 percent of commuters who leave the county head to the city.
The fact is, residents of the Lehigh Valley and the region have a special relationship with New York. Its proximity and its powerful attraction as one of the worlds great cities make it so. Were close enough to do business in New York. Close enough routinely to drink from its cups of culture, enjoy its entertainment playgrounds, shop its world-class stores, savor its sports.
That intimacy has shaped our response to the devastation that happened Sept. 11.
We are not as apprehensive as New Yorkers about being targeted in future terrorist attacks, but our fear is greater than that felt by the country as a whole.
In the Valley, 19 percent of residents are very concerned about becoming the potential target of a terrorist attack, according to a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll released Monday. Nationwide, only 12 percent of respondents to other polls shared the same level of concern. In New York City, 25 percent of people are as concerned about becoming victims.
Overall, two of three Valley residents are very or somewhat concerned about becoming a victim of a terrorist attack.
One of the ways that societies develop a shared history is by storytelling. While modern America tells stories in the media, the more personal form of storytelling from one to another by word of mouth is still a powerful force. Hearing a tale of Sept. 11 from someone you know makes it all the more real, all the more part of your own life. And here in the Lehigh Valley, you dont have to go far from home to find someone who was there, or someone who knew someone who was there.
Those who are connected, like Susan Long Martucci of Northampton, are telling their stories. Martucci remembers her cousin, Capt. Daniel Brethel, a New York firefighter. When the building started coming down, my cousin dove under his fire truck and was crushed to death, she says. The only consolation my family has is knowing Daniel died doing what he loved to do all his life: helping to save the lives of other people.
City built with Valley sweat
The connection between New York and the Lehigh Valley region runs deep. The growth of the great city helped fuel the regions economic engine.
When Philadelphia proved a poor market, Maurice and William Wurtz turned to New York to finance their effort to capture the New York market with coal from their mines near Carbondale. Their initial public offering was sold in 1825 at New Yorks Tontine Coffee House, about six blocks from what became the World Trade Center site. Anthracite flowed to the citys furnaces.
Accessible by canal, rail and later by highways, the regions industry and resources went far beyond coal, supplying New York City with commodities from silk to milk.
Sweat and muscle from the Lehigh Valley also helped build the bones of New York City. Its sidewalks and skyscrapers are made with our steel and cement. Bethlehem Steels wide H-beams hold up the Chrysler Building and the George Washington Bridge. Cement from the Atlas Portland Cement Co. in Northampton was poured into Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and many other projects. In fact, New York bought so much Atlas cement that it maintained its own silos and cement inspector at the plant.
The traffic flowed both ways for culture and commerce. Until 1959, people could ride the Black Diamond Express, a grand Victorian train between Allentown and New York City. The Phoebe Snow train brought tourists from New York to the Delaware Water Gap and the Poconos.
Sept. 11: One Year Later
Deep grief wells from Valley's New York bonds
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.