American, b. Switzerland, c. 1803–1870
Lithograph with hand coloring, 9 3/8 x 13 9/16 inches
Published by C. G. Childs & R. H. Hobson, Philadelphia
Partial gift and purchase from John C. O’Connor and Ralph M. Yeager
Around the time he engraved the Penn Treaty Elm, Lehman captured this bucolic view of the still relatively small town of Bethlehem, which was founded nearly ninety years earlier, in 1741, as a Moravian mission. The lithograph was published just a year after the Lehigh Canal was completed in an effort to hasten the delivery of coal from the anthracite fields near Mauch Chunk (today the village of Jim Thorpe) to markets farther east.
The view is to the north. In the foreground, a group of three people converse on what is now Wyandotte Street, in South Bethlehem. Beyond them, across the Lehigh River, is Sand Island. The canal, difficult to depict from this vantage point, flows between the island and Bethlehem proper, in the distance. There, the Central Moravian Church, constructed in 1806 and for many years the town’s predominant structure, stands at the very center of the composition.