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The city has been designated a Preserve America Community

In a ceremony on Capitol Hill today, First Lady Laura Bush, the Honorary Chair of Preserve America, officially recognized Easton for its efforts to preserve its history and revitalize its downtown.

Last month, it was announced that Easton was among 14 cities nationwide to be designated a Preserve America Community by the federal government. Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and celebrate local history and cultural heritage. Preserve America Communities receive White House recognition and the eligibility to apply for Preserve America grants.

At the ceremony, Bush highlighted Easton in her comments:

“Some Preserve America communities are using their historic properties to bring whole cities and towns back to life. One community we’re recognizing today is Easton, Pennsylvania.

“You may be interested to know Easton probably has a link to your own early history: It was in Easton that cousins Edwin Binney and Harold Smith founded a business to manufacture slate school pencils. They expanded their line of products, and the first box of Binney & Smith Crayons — containing seven colors — was produced in 1903, and sold for a nickel.

“Binney & Smith Crayons are now known by a different name — Crayolas — and since1903, they’ve allowed children to express themselves in more than 400 different colors — including, I’m sure, every one of us in this room.

“In the 1820s, Easton was a bustling canal town, with flourishing tanneries, distilleries, and flour mills. But when the town’s industries fell into decline, Easton’s downtown went with them. Now a different industry has brought this city back to life: Heritage tourism is showcasing Easton’s rich past, which dates back to the Revolutionary War era.

“Today, residents of Easton celebrate Heritage Day every July, when they re-create one of the first and only public readings of the Declaration of Independence, which took place in Easton on July 8, 1776. Eastoners have formed a Historic District Commission, which protects the town’s historic architecture. The Crayola Factory is now a museum, and part of Easton’s revived downtown — which attracts more than 300,000 tourists every year.”

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