Mayor John Callahan led a tribute to one of his predecessors at a ceremony this afternoon dedicating a Main Street monument to Gordon Mowrer.
Mowrer, who was mayor between 1974 and 1978 and again in 1987, is generally credited with putting a halt to planned urban renewal projects that would have put a wrecking ball to many buildings in Bethlehem’s historic downtown.
Callahan unveiled a brick wall and plaque in front of the fountain at Main and W. Market streets proclaiming Mowrer the “Main Street Mayor.”
The plaque features a portrait of the former mayor and testifies to Mowrer’s lasting contribution to Bethlehem’s charm and vitality:
“As Mayor in the 1970s his vision saved Bethlehem’s historic downtown from the wrecking ball of ‘urban renewal’ and refocused the City on the viability and vibrancy of its heritage.”
In a blog posted today, the Bethlehem Police Department chimed in with its own tribute to the former mayor, who was in attendance for the plaque dedication:
“The safety of any city is directly tied to the economic vitality of that community. Decisions that were made twenty, thirty and even forty years ago are paying dividends in our community today,” the police blog said.
“Great leaders like Mayor Gordon Mowrer have paved the way to help make Bethlehem a great place to live, work and play.”
If not for Mowrer, who after his time as mayor served two terms on City Council, more of the downtown might have looked like the area around Broad and New streets than the colonial-era streetscape so many visitors and locals enjoy on Main Street.
“If I had a nickel for every time I was asked why Bethlehem has been so successful in reinventing itself and rebounding from the loss of steel, I would be a rich man,” Callahan said.
“I am not sure I know all the reasons but one of them most certainly is Gordon Mowrer and his contributions to our community. Bethlehem is a special place made even more special by people like Gordon Mowrer.”