(Historical Upper Macungie Map)
View our YouTube Video: Upper Macungie Township: Past Present Future
Early History of Upper Macungie:
The original residents of Upper Macungie were Native Americans of the Lenni Lenape tribe, a regional branch of the Algonquin Nation, sometimes referred to as Delaware Indians. They named the region “Maccongy” which translates to “bear swamp” or “bears’ feeding place.” European settlers began arriving in the early 1700s and pronounced the name as “Macungie…” Fertile soil and abundant water sources attracted German immigrants and by 1743 the population of Macungie was 650. These early settlers laid the cultural foundation of the area, long recognized for a strong heritage known as Pennsylvania Dutch (The “Dutch” reference has nothing to do with Holland. It evolved from word for German: Deutsch).
The township was divided in 1832 into Upper and Lower Macungie. By 1845, the population of Upper Macungie was 1,769 and while still mostly farms and woodlands, there were two grist mills, two saw mills and several tanneries.
To this day, familiar names like Breinigsville, Trexlertown and Fogelsville, as well as dozens of street and landmark names, are testimony to the omnipresence of our Pennsylvania Dutch forbears. And while Upper Macungie today is a community that embraces all, thousands of our longtime residents can still trace their lineages (and their very German surnames) back to the original settlers.
Evolving with New Neighbors:
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, agriculture was the mainstay of the regional economy. By the 1960s this mantle was shared with state-of-the-art plants for manufacturing by Air Products and Chemicals, Kraft Foods and Schafer Brewery (currently Sam Adams Brewery) and other new facilities.
While agriculture remains strong to this day, the influx of manufacturers created new employment opportunities and heightened demand for new housing developments, retail services and infrastructure improvements. Throughout the final decades of the past century, development continued at a brisk pace, ranking our community among the fastest growing in Pennsylvania.
By the year 2000, Upper Macungie was home to numerous new employers and over 10,000 residents.
Planning for a Future with an Abundance of Green Space:
Maintaining a healthy balance of development and open space has long been a priority of Upper Macungie Township’s leaders. We are one of the few municipalities with our own Township Conservation Design Development Regulations, which mandates that a significant portion of any developed land must be maintained as open space for future generations. Approximately 20% (5 square miles) of township land is preserved.
At no cost to our taxpayers, the Township’s leaders have long made the acquisition and preservation of open spaces a guiding priority. These green spaces are evident in our healthful balance of recreational parks, forests and farm lands.
Today, we have more than three times the open land required by the Lehigh County Planning Commission…and we are adding more all the time. This commitment to preserving a significant proportion of our community as open space is a living tribute to our rural heritage which ensures a cleaner, greener environment for future generations of Upper Macungie residents.