Our program featured a visit from Easton Mayor Sal Panto. Easton was laid out in 1752 by William Parsons, at the request of Thomas Penn, on land obtained from the Delaware Indians in the notorious Walking Purchase of 1737, a treaty that enforced Indian resettlement. The town was named for the English estate (Easton) of Penn’s father-in-law, Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret who lived in a country estate called Easton- Neston in Northamptonshire England.
During the French and Indian Wars, Easton was the scene of several Indian peace councils which led to the Easton Treaty of 1758. The treaty ensured that Native Americans would not fight for the French and returned some of the land stolen during the infamous walking purchase.
Sal argues that Easton made several historic mistakes. The first was moving the courthouse from downtown to its position on top of the hill. There were no cars at the time and all the attorneys moved out of downtown. Another mistake was not annexing any of the surrounding land. In 1900, Easton was the biggest city in the Valley. Eventually Allentown and Bethlehem grew larger. A third mistake was known as urban renewal and cost the City 10,000 residents.
The Clean and Safe program that started in 2008 has helped turn the City around. Additional police officers were added. The streets were cleaned up. The crime rate continues to drop. Property taxes have remained level and the City’s population continues to rise. The 4th Street garage is being demolished and will be replaced by a new center geared to young professionals. There will be commercial space on the ground floor with 6 floors of apartments above. The property that formerly housed the Days Inn sold for $3 million. The hotel had been the site of around 40 police visits every month.
Plans are still being submitted for that site. Affordable housing developments are happening on South Side. The Mill at Easton has 55 units and the Shiloh Commons will add 60 more. Easton has become known for its Festivals and 2024 will see even more. The Winter Village will be here soon complete with the popular ice skating rink. The city is looking forward to celebrating the 250th birthday of the United States which will coincide with the 200th anniversary of Lafayette College.