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Looking down East Coal Street in Shenandoah. The large building on the left is 35 E. Coal Street. The home of the Levines is no longer there at 37 E. Coal Street, but all the homes on the street look quite old and perhaps were there in 1903.
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Facing 37 East Coal Street. The Levine's home was just to the right on the vacant lot.
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Since this photo was taken, the parking lot is now a fenced-in yard.
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Across the street from 35 East Coal Street.
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A building a block down on the opposite side of East Coal Street from #35.
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A row of homes on the opposite side of East Coal Street from #35. One of these homes, 24 East Coal Street, was for sale at $17,000 (1890 sq. ft.)
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A tribute to the town's favorite sons, the Dorsey Brothers. Besides the dance halls, boxing was also popular. Martin Alpert participated in that sport.
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Main Street in Shenandoah. The Levine's home was just two blocks from the center of the town.
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Coal Street intersects with Main Street. A little further north of the town in the hills above is Shenandoah Heights, the location of the cemetery where some of the Levine family and relatives are buried.
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The tremendous need for coal at the outbreak of the civil war fueled the necessity of finding and operating new coal deposits. Thus, in 1862, the first colliery in Shenandoah was opened. This was Shenandoah City Colliery.

Shenandoah grew rapidly with the influx of skilled miners and laborers to work the surrounding coal fields. Situated in the Middle Western coal field, Shenandoah had the richest deposit of Anthracite of all the known fields. The Mammoth vein, the largest known anthracite coal vein, runs directly under the town. Coal brought thousands of immigrants to Shenandoah. First came the English mine owners and bosses, then the Welsh skilled miners. These were quickly followed by the Germans and the Irish. By the early 1870's, the Irish were the predominant immigrants to come to Shenandoah. Beginning in the late1870's, immigration into Shenandoah shifted from the Western European countries to the Eastern European countries, primarily Lithuania, Poland , the Ukraine and Slovakia. As each new wave of immigrants arrived in Shenandoah, they set about to establish their own church with services in their native language and eventually to establish parochial schools where their children could be taught both English and their own language and customs. In the 1930's Shenandoah boasted 22 nationalities, 22 churches and a large synagogue.

Although coal was the single most important industry in Shenandoah, a number of secondary industries and businesses helped support the economy. At first, these were related to the coal industry. Railroads were required to move the coal to New York and Philadelphia. Shenandoah was the only town in Pennsylvania to have depots for the three major railroad companies. In the 1920's, the garment industry began to develop in the area. At its peak, there were approximately 15 large garment factories operating in Shenandoah at one time. One out of every two households had a woman in the ILGWU. This was particularly true in the early 1950's when the mines were closing one after the other. The garment industry sustained many families.
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The area that became Shenandoah was first settled by a farmer named Peter Kehley in 1835. It is 105 miles northwest of Philadelphia. He sold his claim to the Philadelphia Land Company, which in anticipation of the opening of coal mines in the area, laid out the town in 1862.

Booming growth occurred during the Civil War years caused by the development and opening of several anthracite coal mines. The area was incorporated as a borough in 1866.

After the original influx of English, Welsh, Irish, and German immigrants a large influx of people from central, eastern and southern European countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Italy occurred in the decades before and after the turn of the 20th century. By 1920, the town had a population of nearly 30,000 residents. The community was hard hit by the decline of the anthracite coal industry after World War II and heavy emigration by coal miners occurred in order to find work elsewhere.

In January 1902, those interested filed their petition for retail, wholesale, bottling or brewing licenses at the County Court. Shenandoah was represented with bars and breweries. This coal town offered more bars per thousand people than any other location in the world. (Perhaps this is where Martin learned his bartending trade.)

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station served as the main passenger terminal in Shenandoah, but because of the coal industry, it was not the only railroad to service Shenandoah. The town was also served by the Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Railroad, making Shenandoah the only borough in Pennsylvania to be served by three railroad companies.

During the Great Coal Strike of 1902 the Pennsylvania National Guard was called into Shenandoah to keep the peace and curb rioting by angry miners. The strike would only be resolved after President Theodore Roosevelt intervened.
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