March 25, 2020


Historic Maps of Bethlehem

The Bethlehem Area Public Library is a great source for old artifacts on the historic town of Bethlehem, PA. Some of the most interesting artifacts that the library has (which anyone can access for study and/or leisure) are maps of the town of Bethlehem from the bygone years of 1873, 1886, and 1929. These maps can be viewed at Check them out! Each of these maps gives viewers an interesting look into what Bethlehem, PA looked like 145, 132, and 89 years ago. Each are drawn differently, giving an insight into what maps of the town looked like from each time period.

When comparing each of the maps, the viewer notices the significant difference in style and colors. The first map from 1873 is a drawing of all of the houses, trees, rivers, roads, and even horse-drawn carriages roaming the streets. This map is a piece of artwork on its own. The map from 1886 and the map from 1929 are much like the maps that we see today, like ones that you’d purchase at a gas station to use when on the road.

Each of these maps played an important role in recording the history of the town. You can learn the City’s layout as well as where notable buildings stood such as the Moravian Female Seminary. You can trace the winding streets of South Bethlehem, noting what has changed and what has remained the same.

There have been some curious changes across the decades and centuries. For example, did you know that the map in 1886 has Monocacy Street listed as “Manockisy Avenue”? Check it out in the picture on the right. In the 1929 map, the name of this street is spelled just as it is today. Also interestingly, in the 1873 map (13 years before the 1886 map), Monocacy Creek is spelled the same way as it is today as well.

Another fascinating thing viewers can discover is what parts of Bethlehem, PA have been around since the 1800s. By looking at the map from 1873, we can see that schools like Moravian College and Lehigh University have been around for quite some time. Although Liberty High School is not present on the maps from the late 1800s, it is on the map from 1929. The Bethlehem Steel Co. is present on all of the maps, but is labeled as Bethlehem Iron Co. in the maps from 1873 and 1886. Many things are relatively similar to today’s Bethlehem, but it is really intriguing to discover some small differences about the town we all know and love so dearly.

These maps are available for perusal using the link above or here: 1873 map1886 map1929 map. Who knows what you might find when you take a look? Check it out for yourself, and you may just discover something about your historic neighborhood that you never knew about before. Share it with your friends and family and soon you will all be experts not only on what Bethlehem looks like today, but also on what it looked like over 100 years ago.

This post was written by BAPL intern Jennifer Khawam of Moravian College. Thanks, Jennifer!

Local History