The City of Allentown is the county seat of Lehigh County. With 106,632 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 estimate, Allentown ranks as Pennsylvania's third largest city. The Allentown-Bethlehem Metropolitan Statistical Area, comprised of Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties, is the third largest urbanized area in the Commonwealth, with population estimated at 611,764. Only the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas have more residents. Allentown is strategically located within a 300-mile radius of the larger metropolitan areas of eastern seaboard of the United States.
On April 23,1996, the voters of the City of Allentown adopted a Home Rule Charter pursuant to the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, Act of April 13,1972, P.L. 184, as amended. 53 P.S. Section 2901 et seq. The city's Home Rule Charter took effect on the first Monday of January 1997. An elected Mayor with a four-year term serves as the chief executive for the city. A seven-member part-time City Council elected at large for four-year staggered terms forms the legislative branch of city government. The City Controller is also elected and serves a four-year term. City Council holds regular public meetings, at least twice a month, usually the first and third Wednesday of each month, in order to enact legislation in the form of ordinances and resolutions.
The Allentown area remains as attractive location for new and existing businesses. A number of major corporations, including Mack Trucks, Inc., Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., Lehigh Portland Cement, LSI Corporation and PPL have selected Lehigh County as their headquarters or as the location of their principal plants. Other major industries include apparel, electrical and electronic equipment and fabricated metal products. Investments have remained strong in Allentown and the Lehigh Valley areas relative to the state and northeast as a whole.
Interstate 78, U.S. Routes 22, 222 and 309 and several state highways meet the on road needs for Allentown and the Lehigh Valley and provide access to the major markets and ports of the East. The Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is located approximately three miles west of the city. The Lehigh Valley area is served by Norfolk Southern railroad, which has a large classification yard in the Allentown area. Nearly 850,000 passengers traveled thru Lehigh Valley International Airport in 2007 an increase of 7.48 percent over 2006.
The City of Allentown is home to a variety of cultural and education facilities including two colleges, an art museum, two theatre companies, two symphony orchestras, a Municipal Opera Company, the Allentown Band, and an expanded free Public Library. The City maintains 2,000 acres of park land, well above the national average. New enterprises are being attracted to the central business district on Hamilton Street. Increased downtown activity is becoming a catalyst for continuing interest in the area.