Reading is county seat of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States. With a population of 87,575, it is the fifth-largest city in Pennsylvania. Located in the southeastern part of the state, it is the principal city of the Greater Reading Area.
The city of Reading was laid out in 1748. It was named Reading, after the county town in Berkshire, England.
Reading and Berks County has so much to see and do. Explore first-class attractions, museums, art galleries and performing arts venues, and many diverse tourist locations that reflect Reading and Berks County’s prominent historic past and its movement towards a progressive future.
Learn about the History of Reading and Berks County by reading our exclusive Historical Articles.
One of the most famous landmarks of Reading and Berks County is the Pagoda built atop the South end of Mount Penn overlooking Reading, Pennsylvania. It has been a symbol of the city for more than a century.
Commissioned in 1906 at a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr. to cover his stone quarry, the Pagoda was completed in 1908. It was orginally intended to be a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, but due to the bank foreclosure and the denial of a liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda. By 1910 the Pagoda and surrounding 10 acres were deeded to local business owner, Jonathon Mould and his wife, Julia (Bell). On April 21, 1911 they "sold" the Pagoda to the City of Reading for the sum of $1. Since then the Pagoda has been owned, loved and cared for by the citizens and City of Reading.
Decades ago, Reading was a mighty manufacturing town where the Reading Railroad — once the world's largest company, now a spot on the Monopoly board — built a 19th-century transportation empire, and factories produced everything from hats to hardware. At one time, the city boasted so many manufacturing jobs that you could quit one, cross the street and easily land another.
The old Philadelphia & Reading Railroad from which the Reading Railroad was born was instrumental in the early development of the Industiral Revolution through its dominance of the anthracite trade. That was the mineral fuel that gradually replaced waterpower and charcoal in the developing industrial processes, and - most significantly - opened the way for the production of cheap iron machinery. And that in turn enabled the country's new factories and mills to produce the goods that started the United States on the road to economic leadership of the world.
From the Monopoly Game to International Cinemas. Between 1967 and 1972, six major northeastern railroads declared bankruptcy, and Reading was one of the moribund pack, filing for Chapter 11 in 1971. The operation of the rail lines controlled by Reading and those of its fallen brethren were consolidated by a federal government agency and given to the Consolidated Rail Corporation, or Conrail, a government-sponsored company that began operating in 1976. The Reading Co. gradually untangled itself from more than a century of being in the railroad business and shifted its business direction by developing and operating multiplex cinemas around the world, including the Angelika Cinema in New York.
The former Reading Transit and Light Company operated trolley lines throughout the city and surrounding area until January 7, 1952, when the last streetcar (# 807) made its last run to Mohnton.
Reading Fairgrounds Speedway (1924–1979) was a one half mile dirt/clay modified race track located in Muhlenburg Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. The track opened September 24, 1924 and ran until June 29, 1979. It featured a regular weekly series of modified, sportsman modified, and late model stock car racing.