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 founded in 1748 by Thomas and Richard Penn, sons of William Penn, founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is named after their ancestral home - Reading, England. Berks County is named after the corresponding shire in which Reading, England is located - Berkshire.
Once a hub of industry, Reading boasted 700 manufacturing businesses, producing hundreds of goods from hosiery to hardware. At the city's peak, more than 111,000 people called Reading home. But like many Pa. cities, as plants and manufacturers closed, unemployment rose and population declined.
The Hispanic population of the city shaped by English and German ancestry has skyrocketed in the past decade, echoing a national trend highlighted by the 2010 Census. In 2010, Reading had a Latino population of 58 percent, up from 37 percent in 2000. So it's no surprise that the city is rife with wonderful international eateries, even if they often don't make the "Best Places to Eat in Reading" lists that focus on fine dining or restaurants outside Reading proper.
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.
Reading Railroad: Coal Age Empire
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.
"I lift mine eyes to the hills from whence my strength cometh. In the days to come may the citizens of Reading turn to the hills - to this hill - for strength, for recreation, for the real things of living." - Lebert H. Weir, field secretary for the National Recreation Association (1910 - 1949).
Across the ridge of Mount Penn, Reading, PA, extends the Skyline Boulevard or Skyline Drive. Motorists who fail to drive across the boulevard when visiting the City of Reading are depriving themselves of an un-paralleled view of Reading and countryside for miles around. On the hottest days, cool breezes sweep over the mountain top.
In 1967, LeRoy G. Levan and a handful of friends on a break from college decided to paint a giant peace sign on a large rock on Mount Penn facing Reading to protest the Vietnam War. They chose a large rock that was a scar on Mount Penn from quarrying more than a century ago.
In September, 2015, a West Lawn resident named Kenny who had some fond memories of the peace sign, realized that the peace sign needed some TLC. Over the course of twelve to fifteen days Kenny worked in the morning and after work to give the peace sign a coat of red, white, and blue paint.
Reading Transit and Light Company
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.
Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow" Civil Defense Film
Scenes of Reading, PA from the short film "Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow." A U.S. government-backed film shot in Reading in 1956 showing how the city of Reading, PA, would implement civil defense procedures to help residents survive a nuclear attack. Narrated by radio personality Andre Barruch, the production spotlighted the civil defense preparations undertaken by the city of Reading, Pennsylvania in 1956. The film offers superb shots of the city.
Reading Fairgrounds Speedway
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.
Scenes from Carsonia Park
Carsonia Park operated in Lower Alsace Township from 1896 to 1950. The park was constructed by the United Traction Company as a destination for its trolley service. Over the course of its existence Carsonia Park featured many rides and attractions. The roller coasters Jack Rabbit and Thunderbolt, The Airplane Ride, Dodgem Cars, Strato Ship, Castle of Mirth, The Pretzel, Shoot the Shoot, Cuddle Up, and a ferris wheel are just a few examples of what the park offered.