History of Bethlehem
Since 1741, Bethlehem has beckoned travelers
to experience the warmth and hospitality of this delightful
In that year, a small group of Moravians settled on the banks
of the Lehigh River near the Monocacy Creek. They represented
what is now recognized as the oldest organized Protestant
denomination in the world, the Unitas Fratrum, or Unity of
the Brethren, founded in 1457 by followers of John Hus, a
Roman Catholic priest who had tried to reform the Catholic
Church. Hus was burned at the stake for his beliefs a full
100 years before Martin Luther's Reformation. His followers
called themselves Moravians because many of the original founders
came from the provinces of Moravia and Bohemia in central
Europe, in what is now the Czech Republic.
On Christmas Eve of that first year, 1741, the Moravians'
patron, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of Saxony, Germany,
visited the new settlement. In their two-room log home that
housed both man and beast, the Count christened the community
1747, thirty-six different trades and industries exported
their wares from Bethlehem throughout the colonies. In the
days of the Revolution, our nation's leaders, including George
Washington, Samuel Adams and the Marquis de Lafayette, met,
supped and slept here. By 1845, the more than 1,000 inhabitants
voted to incorporate the village into a free borough in the
County of Northampton. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution,
Bethlehem became a center of heavy industry and trade. The
world headquarters of Bethlehem Steel Corporation remains
In 1937, the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, mindful of Bethlehem's
first Christmas in 1741, declared - "Why not make Bethlehem,
named at Christmas, the Christmas City for the entire country."
Thus, since 1937, Bethlehem of Pennsylvania has been known
throughout the world as Christmas City USA.
From its humble beginnings as a Moravian settlement to its
modern status as the heart of the thriving Lehigh Valley,
Bethlehem has carefully preserved its past. It is a city of
71,000 that shines as brightly as its huge electrical star
atop South Mountain. The Moravian influence remains strong,
but many more traditions from many lands have joined in making
the city a "melting pot" of cultures, blending one into the
Come and be touched by four seasons of history, music,
education, festivals -- and A Very Special Christmas. Bethlehem
is a travel destination with something to captivate everyone
in the family.
Please note that the City of Bethlehem
does not officially endorse the linked websites or guarantees
accuracy of the content provided in it.