Bethlehem is a city in Lehigh and Northampton Counties in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 74,982, making it the seventh largest city in Pennsylvania, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading, and Scranton. Bethlehem lies in the center of the Lehigh Valley, a region of 731 square miles (1,893 km²) that is home to more than 800,000 people. The Valley embraces a trio of cities (Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton) within two counties (Lehigh and Northampton), making it Pennsylvania's third-largest metropolitan area. Smaller than Allentown but larger than Easton, Bethlehem is the Lehigh Valley's second most populous city.
Colleges and universities:
Bethlehem is home to three institutes of higher education. Lehigh University, located on South Mountain on the city's South Side, has 4,800 undergraduates and 2,100 graduate students. The university, which was founded in 1865, was ranked #35 in U.S. News & World Report's 2010 ratings of America's best colleges.
Moravian College, located in the center city area, is a small, highly respected liberal arts college. Founded in 1742 as Bethlehem Female Seminary, Moravian is the sixth oldest college in the nation. Besides undergraduate programs, the college also includes the Moravian Theological Seminary, a graduate school with approximately 100 students from more than a dozen religious denominations.
The International Institute for Restorative Practices is a graduate school dedicated to the advanced education of professionals and to the conduct of research that can develop the growing field of restorative practices. The IIRP offers two master’s degrees: the Master of Restorative Practices and Education (MRPE) and the Master of Restorative Practices and Youth Counseling (MRPYC). The IIRP also offers an 18-credit Graduate Certificate in Restorative Practices. Northampton Community College is also located in neighboring Bethlehem Township.
Primary and secondary education:
Bethlehem is home to the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD), which covers a 40-square-mile (100 km2) area that includes the city, the boroughs of Fountain Hill and Freemansburg, and Bethlehem and Hanover Townships. The district operates two high schools for grades 9-12: Liberty High School near center city and Freedom High School in neighboring Bethlehem Township.
The district also has four public middle schools for grades 6-8: Broughal Middle School, East Hills Middle School, Nitschmann Middle School, and Northeast Middle School. In addition, BASD maintains 19 public elementary schools for grades K-5. Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts (LVPA) is also operated by the district, though it accepts students in grades 9-12 from throughout Northampton and surrounding counties. Bethlehem has two private high schools: Bethlehem Catholic High School, which serves grades 9-12, and Moravian Academy, which serves all primary and secondary school grades. Notre Dame High School, located just north of the city, also serves grades 9 through 12. Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom and Liberty all compete athletically in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley Conference.
In December 2006, Las Vegas Sands Corp was awarded a Category 2 Slot Machine License by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. LVSC began work on the site, categorized as both the largest brownfield redevelopment project in the nation and the largest casino development investment made to date in the Commonwealth. Its mission was to create reinvestment and urbanization in the area. At a projected cost of $743 million, the historic Bethlehem Steel plant is being redeveloped as a fully integrated resort, to include 3,000 slot machines, over 300 luxury hotel rooms, 9 restaurants, 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) of premium retail outlet shopping, and 46,000 square feet (4,300 m2) of flexible multi-purpose space. In 2007, the casino resort company of Las Vegas Sands began the construction of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. The Sands Casino has been projected to bring in approximately one million dollars in revenue per day as of 2009. Another major economic anchor to the city is St. Luke's Hospital located in neighboring Fountain Hill . That Hospital and Health Network is the second largest of its type in the Lehigh Valley.
The city has also experienced many new shops opening along Main Street Downtown and along E. Third Street on the South Side. Several years ago, W. Broad Street between N. New Street and Guetter Street was an outdoor pedestrian mall, similar to the former Hamilton Mall in Allentown. Like the Hamilton Mall, the pedestrian mall was torn up and made into W. Broad Street. Adjacent to W. Broad Street is the Bethlehem Plaza Mall, a 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) enclosed shopping mall.
Outside of Downtown there are several other shopping centers.
In Bethlehem Township:
- Westgate Mall is an enclosed mall with anchors The Bon-Ton and Weis Markets.
- Lehigh Center Shopping Center has Marshalls/HomeGoods, Staples, Giant, and Big Lots.
- Martin Court Shopping Center has Lowe's and PriceRite.
- Stefko Boulevard Shopping Center has Valley Farm Market, Dollar Tree, and Radio Shack.
- Bethlehem Square is a shopping center with Giant, TJMaxx, Wal-Mart, The Home Depot, and K Mart.