The City of Easton is located at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. The City is part of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania’s third-largest and fastest-growing metro area. It’s location makes this City a geographic and cultural gateway between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some 24-million people in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania live within a 75-mile radius of Easton.
Founded in 1752, the Northampton County seat, and a federally designated Preserve America community, Easton was shaped by its position at the intersection of waterways, Lenape Indian trails, canals, railroads, and highways and by its proximity to the major population centers of New York City and Philadelphia. Ethnically diverse, the West Ward houses over 40% of Easton’s population of 26,000, including a growing community of artists (Walker Evans practiced his “epic vistas” while on a formative photographic tour here in November 1935). The West Ward Neighborhood Partnership began in 2005 to address the neighborhood’s decline that resulted when the local economy shifted away from the manufacturing industries concentrated along the Delaware River and its tributaries.
The West Ward’s Urban Ecology Project is assisting residents to build a healthier, safer, and more sustainable neighborhood; to practice democratic strategies in community organizing and leadership development; and to share these experiences with other communities. Residents have committed to:
“Educate the community about urban ecology principles and incorporate these into an interpretive and artistic program integrated throughout the architectural and urban fabric, with the goal of creating a legible, educational, and moral urban landscape revealing the urban ecology system in all its aspects.”
In this context, “urban ecology” is applied through a collaborative process of seeking a beneficial balance of the neighborhood’s natural resource and human settlement systems to achieve a healthful, safer, more productive, and creatively engaged community (especially a population that uses diverse forms of literacy and communications) in Easton’s largest, most diverse, and most challenged low- and moderate-income neighborhood. Festival routes will become part of a system of permanent neighborhood greenways.
Approximately 500,000 visitors come to Easton each year to see attractions at the Crayola Factory, National Canal Museum, State Theatre Center for the Arts, and Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts. Easton also hosts numerous events throughout the spring, summer, and autumn, including: the annual Forks of the Delaware Shad Fishing Tournament and Festival, Easton Historic House Tour, Easton Farmers Market (the oldest, continuous, outdoor market in the U.S., founded in 1752), Easton Garden Tour, Heritage Day (commemorating the third public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 11, 1776), Riverside Festival of the Arts, and Garlic Festival.