Bethlehem is located in eastern Pennsylvania on the Lehigh River about 46 miles (74 km) northwest of Philadelphia. Along with Allentown and Easton, it forms the third largest industrial center in the state. It is the home of Bethlehem Steel, Lehigh University and Moravian College. The world's oldest Bach Choir holds a festival each May at Packer Memorial Church on the Lehigh campus.
Bethlehem was founded by Moravian missionaries from eastern Germany in 1741. It remains a center of Moravian Church activity, and Moravian traditions are still influential in the community. Industrialization in the late 19th Century changed the character of the town profoundly, bringing with it large numbers of immigrants from Central Europe.
Bethlehem would have an impressive skyline for a city its size if its major buildings were grouped close together on level ground. However, not only are they spread across two downtowns and beyond, hilly terrain makes some buildings prominent while obscuring others.
The northside downtown grew up beside the original Moravian settlement, which it compliments in scale and character. Southside - until 1917 the independent municipality of South Bethlehem - grew up on the narrow flatland between the Lehigh River and South Mountain, adjacent to the Bethlehem Steel Mill, Lehigh University, and surrounding working-class neighborhoods. The Bethlehem Steel Mill was once one of the world's largest industrial facilities, providing steel for many of America's great skyscrapers.
Bethlehem provides an unusual comparison between the artisan economy of the industrious Moravians, the industrial-era economy of large-scale mass production, and the post-industrial, high-tech economy of today.
Tall buildings with Bethlehem addresses are also located in Fountain Hill.