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Allentown was one of the fasted growing towns in the area. The town plan was laid out by William Allen in 1762. The town was highly pastoral, with most of its inhabitants growing vegetables in their gardens. At the center of the town was a market place where the farmers could buy and sell produce. By 1814, there were approximately 160 households in Allentown, almost all of them having farms. Even after the development of the canal in 1829, Allentown remained a trading post for farmers.
The town lost enormous amounts of money in 1841 when the river flooded, destroying houses and businesses. An added punch was provided by the Fire of 1848, which further destroyed the town. These disasters were actually blessings in disguise because the town was rebuilt with a focus on commercial development. This led to the development of new industries. It also provided numerous jobs for those living in the area.
In the mid-1840s, the iron industry became very prominent in Allentown. Later, it became the home of other companies, including the Adelaide Silk Mill and the Iowa Barb Wire Company. Industries were encouraged by capitalists in Allentown to set up their companies in town, and as a result, Allentown prospered. By the 1920’s, Allentown’s economic reconstruction was basically complete. It had a population of 100,000 and was still a relatively small town. Surprisingly, the town continued to grow, even during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. In the second half of the 20th century, Allentown has remained a place where businesses flourish (Hall and Hall, 1982).


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