Maze Garden – Now and Then

You’ve turned the calendar over. It’s Frist Friday again. Funny how they always happen at the BEGINNING of the month…

Here we are again; celebrating community and connections in the central business district of South Bethlehem. Many students are finding ways to get home for Pacing break. Some faculty and staff are packing up their desks; hoping to get caught up in grading, research or eliminating emails from an already overloaded in-box. First Friday is still happening. There’s still lots of new items to see in the boutiques and galleries. This month, a special event is happening in the Maze Garden, next to the open lot on the southwest corner of New and 3rd streets.

Here’s some info from the Facebook Event page:

Potluck dishes welcome as we celebrate 15 years of volunteer service to Ma Earth and South Beth. Come laugh, dance and connect- a family friendly outdoor venue with space to let your kids run.

DJ ARM 18 will be spinning a wide spectrum of sounds from 60s, 70s, 80s jazz, pop, rock n roll to disco, hip hop and R&B soul. Weather is supposed to be postcard type pleasant!

Back up a minute. 15 years of volunteer service? One might now be asking, “When was this garden built? Who did it?” Through the magic of the internets, we found this article that might shed a little light on your query:

South Side Park Project Is Under Way * Volunteers Hope The Maze Will Be Done In A Week Or So.

October 03, 1996|by SARAH ZABRENSKI, The Morning Call

Several children shovel dirt and push wheelbarrows at a vacant lot on Bethlehem’s South Side while noise from construction equipment drowns out the sound of nearby traffic.

Construction of the Bethlehem community garden maze by children, Lehigh University architecture students and volunteers on the South Side is under way at the lot at 6-12 W. 3rd St.

The 85-by-90-foot lot will include a reflecting pool in the center of the park surrounded by a performance stage and sloped seating. A community garden area will be available for people to plant bulbs and perennial flowers. A rose garden and an area for people to play chess and checkers will be at the entrance to the park.

The garden is part of the city’s effort to rebuild the South Side, which has suffered business closings and layoffs at Bethlehem Steel Corp.

People involved with the project also hope the garden will bring the Bethlehem community together.

“The spirit of the community is in the people and kids walking by who pick up shovels to help us build,” said architect Diane LaBelle, director of an architecture-for-children program with the SMART Discovery Center, a hands-on science museum, in Bethlehem. Labelle proposed the idea for the park.

The group hoped to finish the maze on Saturday. However, it will take another week or so to finish it. Volunteers can drop by and work on the park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Saturday. If it rains, volunteers can help on Sunday.

“It’s a way to get everybody working together,” LaBelle said. “Getting the community to help build the garden is what makes it special.”

The project is a collaboration among LaBelle’s 18 children from her architecture program, known as Archi-Kids, 23 third-year students — called Archi-Dudes — from Lehigh University’s architecture department and volunteers from the community.

The Archi-Kids and Archi-Dudes collaborated on designs for the project in early September and presented five proposals to city officials to select a final design. City officials decided to incorporate elements from each design into the plan for the site.

To raise money for the park, people can buy trees for $10 each to be planted at the site and to have their names added to a plaque that will be installed at the lot. Anyone interested in buying a tree can call LaBelle at the SMART Center, 694-4945.

The project has raised $4,000 from selling trees, and local businesses have donated funds, materials and equipment.

Charlie Brown, director of parks and public property in Bethlehem, also provided funds and materials for the site.

“Charlie made the whole thing possible,” LaBelle said. “He was responsible for getting a water line, he provided equipment and he helped with a retaining wall around the site.”

image and description from South Bethlehem By Kenneth F. Raniere, Karen M. Samuels
Image and description from South Bethlehem By Kenneth F. Raniere, Karen M. Samuels,
South Bethlehem Historic Society.
Links to follow up stories in the Morning Call here, too:
“Young Minds Help Design Maze that will be built on SouthSide. City officials today will select the pattern for the park which will be at the former site of the Aztec Club”
September 16, 1996|by SARAH ZABRENSKI, The Morning Call
October 06, 1996|by SARAH ZABRENSKI, The Morning Call
June 04, 2009|By Kathy Lauer-Williams Of The Morning Call
September 3, 2009 by Tricia Long of Lehigh University Relations
There’s a lot of creative people who are generous with their time and muscle. It took a lot of people to start the Maze Garden, and others have picked up the task to keep it moving forward. Most things don’t grow just by wishing it so (except for weeds). If you venture to the Maze Garden tonight, or happen to notice it as you pass by, it’s always nice to know a little bit of history as we walk in our present day.
3/31 of Blog posts that celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month