Bethlehem, city (1990 pop. 71,428), Northampton and Lehigh counties, E Pa., on the Lehigh R. near Allentown and Easton; inc. as a city 1917. Local manufacturing, once dominated by the giant Bethlehem Steel Corp., is now more diversified. Chemicals, machines, cement, and textiles have been important; semiconductor and e-commerce distribution center industries are growing. A gambling casino opened in 2009. Bethlehem was settled in 1740–41 by Moravians (see Moravian Church) and incorporated as a borough in 1845. Steelmaking began in the early 1870s, and Bethlehem Steel's structural-steel mill opened in 1908; in 1995, when it closed, the steelmaking era ended. Many of the mill's huge buildings remain in the city; the National Museum of Industrial History is house in one. In Bethlehem is the Moravian Museum, which incorporates the Gemeinhaus (1741); the Central Moravian Church (c.1803); and the Schnitz House (1749). An internationally famous spring music festival performed by the Bach Choir (1898) is held in the city. Bethlehem is the seat of Lehigh Univ. and Moravian College.
See R. Schwartz, Bethlehem on the Lehigh (1991).
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