In the previous blog entry there were a handful of comments which seemed to amplify the split between Lehigh Valley natives and transplants. For the readers outside of Whitehall and the Valley, transplants are folks who moved to the area from New York and New Jersey. For over twenty years there has been a steady stream of families from NY and NJ moving into the Valley. The cost of living and quality of life is more attractive here and definitely worth a longer commute to work. The migration of these people has brought about a number of changes to the Valley. Most have been genuinely beneficial and welcome. Some have not.
Although people from NY and NJ have woven themselves into the fabric of the Lehigh Valley and Whitehall and made their mark, tensions exist and not all of the natives are welcoming. On the flip side of the coin, not all of the transplants feel welcome or are likely to try and integrate themselves into the communities they live in. Occasionally, these tensions reach the boiling point and spill over.
Transplants have brought about some major changes to the area. Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton can now be considered the western edge of the NYC empire. They’ve surged out here in droves, eager to find a better life. For the most part they have found it. The real estate market here, in spite of it’s current woes, has expanded dramatically. New housing developments sprouted up by the bushel and homes were quickly gobbled up by transplants. House prices and property taxes in the Valley are far more attractive than they are in New Jersey or NYC. Transplants have established a large influence. The appearance of high end stores and new malls can be attributed directly to the presence of former New Yorkers and New Jersey residents. They want a slice of their former life to be available closer to their new homes. The LV mall would never have been expanded if the Valley was not NY/NJ west. Wegmans, the Promenade Shoppes, Macys, and a host of other stores would not be here either. The demand for them would be nonexistent. Native Valley residents are more likely to shop at WalMart or Boscovs then Macys or Brooks Brothers.
A vociferous group of natives would be happy if all of the transplants just got up and went back to New York and New Jersey. They have not welcomed the changes. New houses they cannot afford. Stores they can’t afford to shop in. In their eyes the transplants are rude, outspoken cretins who have taken over the Valley and have no respect for the folks who’ve lived here all of their lives. It’s a deep insult to natives that the transplant crowd seems to want nothing to do with the Valley’s rich history. I saw a serious collision of culture during the 2009 World Series. It was apparent that the Lehigh Valley was as much a bastion of NY Yankee fans as it was a bastion of Philly fans.
Yesterday, there was a discussion between posters on a previous entry that seemed to exemplify the divide between natives and transplants. We have to get along and go on as best we can. No matter if you were born in Long Island or Forks. This place is home for all of us.
In the words of Rodney King: Can’t We All Just Get Along?