Reading, Pennsylvania

Reading, Pennsylvania

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Reading, Pennsylvania
nickname =
motto =

image_size =
image_caption = View, looking west, from Pagoda atop Mt. Penn


image_seal_size = 70 pix

mapsize =
map_caption = Berks County’s location in Pennsylvania

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 = Reading’s location in Berks County
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name = USA
subdivision_name1 =
subdivision_name2 = Berks
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Thomas McMahon (D)
established_title = Founded
established_date = 1748
area_magnitude =
area_total_sq_mi = 10.1
area_total_km2 = 26.2
area_land_sq_mi = 9.8
area_land_km2 = 25.4
area_water_sq_mi = 0.2
area_water_km2 = 0.5
area_urban_sq_mi =
area_urban_km2 =
area_metro_sq_mi =
area_metro_km2 =
population_as_of = 2000
population_note =
population_total = 81207
population_metro = 740395
population_urban =
population_density_km2 = 3193.1
population_density_sq_mi = 8270.2
timezone = EST
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
lat_d = 40
lat_m = 20
lat_s = 30
lat_NS = N
long_d = 75
long_m = 55
long_s = 35
long_EW = W
elevation_m = 93
elevation_ft = 305
postal_code_type = ZIP Codes
postal_code = 19601-19612, 19640
website =

Reading (pronEng|ˈrɛdɪŋ) is the county seat of Berks County, Pennsylvania and the center of the Greater Reading Area. As of 2005, the city had a population of 83,463, making it the fifth largest city in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Erie, and the sixth largest municipality after Upper Darby Township.


Overlooking the city on Mount Penn is Reading's symbol, a Japanese-style pagoda visible from everywhere in town and referred to locally as "the Pagoda." It was built in 1908 as a hotel and restaurant, but was never used for that purpose. It remains a tourist attraction. In 2007, plans were announced to renovate the area surrounding the Pagoda. The vision is to include walking paths and, possibly, a new mountaintop restaurant.

Duryea Drive, which ascends Mount Penn in a series of sharp bends, was a testing place for early automobiles and was named for Charles Duryea.

The city lent its name to the now-defunct Reading Railroad, which brought anthracite coal from the Pennsylvania Coal Region to cities along the Schuylkill River. The railroad is one of the four railroad properties in the classic English-language version of the Monopoly board game.

During the general decline of heavy manufacturing, Reading was one of the first localities where outlet shopping became a tourist industry. It has been known as "The Pretzel City" because of numerous local pretzel bakeries. It is also known as "Baseballtown," after the Reading Phillies trademarked this moniker to market Reading's rich baseball history. Legendary left-handed pitcher Ty Sofflet led Reading to several fast-pitch softball victories in the mid-1970's [Sports Illustrated, May 28, 1979] .

The city is host to numerous professional athletes. Among the athletes native to the Reading are Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Carl Furillo, Baltimore Colts running back Lenny Moore, and Philadelphia 76ers forward Donyell Marshall.

The book and movie "Rabbit, Run" took place in Reading. It was written by John Updike who was born in nearby Shillington. He fictionalized the name of Reading to "Brewer".

Six institutions of higher education serve the Reading area. The city's cultural institutions include the Reading Symphony Orchestra and its education project the Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra, The GoggleWorks Art Gallery, The Reading Public Museum and the Historical Society of Berks County.

Poet Wallace Stevens was born in Reading on October 2, 1879, and John Philip Sousa, the March King, died there March 6, 1932.

Since the November, 2006 relocation of St. Joseph's Medical Center, Reading no longer has any hospitals within its city limits. There are, however, two hospital satellites in downtown Reading: The Reading Hospital Health Dispensary on Penn Street, and St. Joseph's Medical Center Community Campus on 6th Street.

The genius loci, something more than a collection of rowhouses, factories, warehouses, and railroad tracks, was captured by watercolorist Matthew Daub from the mid-1990's. [Exhibit Catalog: In The Shadow of Industry, Watercolors and Drawings of Eastern Pennslyvania, Robert P. Metzger, PhD., Reading Public Museum, 2001] Filmmakers Gary Adelstein, Costa Mantis, and Jerry Orr's "Reading 1974: Portrait of a City", relying heavily on montage, is a cultural time capsule.


In 1743, Richard and Thomas Penn (sons of William Penn the founder of Pennsylvania, and grandsons of Sir William Penn for whom Pennsylvania is named) planned the town of Reading. Taking its name from the town of Reading in England in honor of their home, it was established in 1748. Upon the creation of Berks County in 1752 the town became the county seat.

During the French and Indian War, Reading was a military base for a chain of forts along the Blue Mountains. Meanwhile the region was being settled by emigrants from southern and western Germany. The Pennsylvanian German dialect was spoken in Reading well into the 1950's and later.

By the time of the American Revolution, the area's iron industry had a total production which exceeded England's, an output that would help supply George Washington's troops with cannons, rifles, and ammunition in the Revolutionary War. During the early period of the conflict, Reading was a depot again for military supply. Hessian prisoners from the Battle of Trenton were also detained here.

The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (P&R) was incorporated in 1833. During the Depression of 1877, a statewide railroad strike over delayed wages led to a violent protest and clash with the National Guard in which six Reading men were killed. [Zinn, Howard. "A People's History of the United States 1492-Present" (New York: HarperPerennial, 1995), p. 243.] After over a century of prosperity, the Reading Company was forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 1971. The bankruptcy was a result of dwindling coal shipping revenues and strict government regulations that denied railroads the ability to set competitive prices, required high taxes, and forced the railroads to continue to operate money-losing lines. On April 1, 1976, the Reading Company sold its current railroad interests to the newly formed Consolidated Railroad Corporation (Conrail).

Early in the 20th century, the city participated in the burgeoning automobile industry, hosting the pioneer brass era company, Daniels. [Clymer, Floyd. "Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925" (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.158.]

In 1927, Reading elected J. Henry Stump as its first and only Socialist mayor. Stump was re-elected on two other occasions, and during his first term, the entire city government was Socialist. Many tangible improvements were made during his tenure. [ [ Historical Review of Berks County, Summer, 1958] ]

Reading experienced continuous growth until the 1930s, when its population reached nearly 120,000. From the 1940s to the 1970s, however, the city saw a sharp downturn in prosperity, largely owing to the decline of the heavy industry and railroads, on which Reading had been built, and a general flight to the suburbs.

In 1972, Hurricane Agnes caused extensive flooding in the city, not the last time the lower precincts of Reading were inundated by the Schuylkill River as a similar, though not as devastating, flood occurred during June 2006.

The Reading Glove and Mitten Manufacturing Company founded in 1899 just outside Reading city limits in West Reading and Wyomissing boroughs changed its name to Vanity Fair in 1911 and is now the major clothing manufacturer VF Corp. In the early 1970s, the original factories were developed to create the VF Outlet Village, the first outlet mall in the United States. The mall is so successful that it draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to Reading every year.

The 2000 census showed that Reading's population decline had begun to reverse itself. This was attributed to an influx of Hispanic residents from New York, as well as from the extension of urban sprawl from Philadelphia's northwest suburbs.

Like all metropolitan areas, Reading has its share of obstacles to overcome, namely crime. [ [ City Crime Rankings by Population Group ] ] However, new crime fighting strategies appear to be having an impact, as in 2006 the city dropped in the rankings of dangerous cities, and then again in 2007.

In December 2007, the NBC Today Show featured Reading as one of the "Top Up and Coming Neighborhoods" in the United States. [ [ MSN Video ] ] The researchers who conducted the study were looking for undiscovered areas that are 'Up and Coming.' In this comprehensive study, professionals were looking for areas of big change, renovations, cleanups of parks, waterfronts, and warehouses. The criteria for the study of these neighborhoods was hip factor, nightlife, creative types, new cars, and ladies sitting on park benches.


Reading is located at 40°20'30" North, 75°55'35" West (40.341692, -75.926301).GR|1 Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, roughly 58 miles (93 km) northwest of Philadelphia, the city is largely bounded on the west by the Schuylkill River, on the east by Mount Penn, and on the south by Neversink Mountain. The surrounding county is home to a number of family-owned farms.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 square miles (26.1 km²)— 9.8 square miles (25.4 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it is water. The total area is 2.39% water.

The Reading Prong, the montaine formation streching north into New Jersey, has come to be associated with naturally-occurring Radon gas, however homes in Reading proper are not particularly affected.

While they are not of any political or cultural significance, Reading does have a number of traditional districts. As with most cities, boundaries can be ambiguous and are not always uniformly defined. These include:
*Center City: Washington Street to Franklin Street, 2nd Street to 8th Street
*Penn's Commons: Walnut Street to Chestnut Street, 8th Street to 13th Street
*College Heights: Oak Lane to 11th Street, Marion Street to City Line Street
*Callowhill: Chestnut Street to South Street, 2nd Street to 6th Street
*Southside: Chestnut Street to South Street, 7th Street to 13th Street
*Southeast: Mineral Spring Road to Fairview Street, 13th Street to 19th Street
*Outlet District: Oley Street to Spring Street, 8th Street to 12th Street
*Centre Park: Spring Street to Greenwich Street, Front Street to 6th Street
*North Riverside: Spring Street to Walnut Street, Clinton Street to Front Street
*Glenside: Mercer Street to Blair Avenue, Montgomery Street to the Schuylkill River
*Millmont: Gregg Avenue to Orton Avenue, Angelica Street to Morgantown Road
*Oakbrook: Funston Avenue to Hancock Boulevard, Museum Road to Lancaster Avenue


Public transit in Reading and its surrounding communities has been provided since 1973 by BARTA, the Berks Area Reading Transit Authority. BARTA operates a fleet of 61 buses serving 21 routes, mostly originating at the BARTA Transportation Center in Downtown Reading.

A number of federal and state highways allow entry to and egress from Reading. U.S. Route 222 Business is designated as Lancaster Avenue, Bingaman Street, South 4th Street, and 5th Street. U.S. Route 422 Business is designated as Penn Street, Cherry Street, Franklin Street, and Perkiomen Avenue. U.S. Route 422, the major east-west artery, circles the western edge of the city and is known locally as The West Shore Bypass. PA Route 12 is known as the Warren Street Bypass, as it bypasses the city to the north. PA Route 10 is known as Morgantown Road.

The most congested intersection in Reading and all of Berks County is in the Millmont section of the city, where U.S. Route 222 Business, U.S. Route 422, and PA Route 10 all converge.

Reading and the surrounding area is serviced by the Reading Regional Airport, a general aviation airfield. Scheduled commercial airline service to Reading ended in 2004, though Reading is a short drive from Harrisburg International Airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport.

In the late 1990s and up to 2003, Philadelphia-based SEPTA, in cooperation with Reading-based BARTA funded a study called the Schuylkill Valley Metro which included plans to extend both sides of SEPTA's R6 regional railroad line to Pottstown, Reading, and Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. The project suffered a major setback when it was rejected by the Federal Transit Administration New Starts program, which cited doubts about the ridership projections and financing assumptions used by the study. With the recent surge in gasoline prices and ever-increasing traffic, the planning commissions of Montgomery County and Berks County have teamed to study the feasibility of a simple extension of the R6 from Wyomissing to Norristown, PA. Options to be studied include complete electrification of the line, diesel service (with a cross-platform change in Norristown), or an electric-diesel hybrid. The study had been expected to be completed sometime during the summer of 2008 [] .


estref=cite web
title=Population Estimates for All Places: 2000 to 2007
footnote=historical data sources: [cite web
title=1990 Population and Housing Unit Counts: United States (CPH-2)
As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 81,207 people, 30,113 households, and 18,429 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,270.2 persons per square mile (3,192.9/km²). There were 34,314 housing units at an average density of 3,494.6 houses per square mile (1,349.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.18% White, 12.25% African American, 0.44% Native American, 1.60% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 22.32% from other races, and 4.18% from two or more races. 37.31% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 30,113 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.4% were married couples living together, 20.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.33.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.9% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 17.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,698, and the median income for a family was $31,067. Males had a median income of $28,114 versus $21,993 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,086. 26.1% of the population and 22.3% of families were below the poverty line. 36.5% of those under the age of 18 and 15.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Demographic changes

In recent years, Reading, like many other cities in the Northeastern United States, has experienced an influx in Hispanic immigration and migration as gentrification has made traditional points of entry in the New York metropolitan area prohibitively expensive. In 2000, 23.46% of Reading residents were of Puerto Rican ancestry. The city also contains sizable populations of Dominican and Mexican ancestry.

In 2000, the Reading metropolitan statistical area was the second most segregated place for Hispanics in the United States, behind only the Lawrence, Massachusetts area. Only 2.1% of the rest of Berks County is Hispanic or Latino, while this ethnic group is highly concentrated in certain city neighborhoods. []

Reading is also seeing some migration of college-educated individuals fleeing high housing costs in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, although this number is dwarfed by the number settling in the city's eastern suburbs such as Exeter Township, closer to the border with Montgomery County.


Four institutions of higher learning are locate within Reading's city limits:
*Albright College
*Alvernia University
*Pace Institute
*Reading Area Community College

Three high schools serve the city:
*Holy Name High School
*Reading Central Catholic High School
*Reading High School

The Reading School District provides elementary and middle schools for the city's children. Numerous Catholic parochial schools are also available. It is possible to get a complete education, from Kindergarten through college, on one street, 13th.


Notable residents

*Gus Alberts, Major League Baseball playercite book |editor=Reichler, Joseph L.| title=The Baseball Encyclopedia |origyear=1969 |edition= 4th edition |year= 1979|publisher= Macmillan Publishing |location= New York|language= |id= ISBN 0-02-578970-8 ] (b. 1861–d. May 7, 1912)
*John Barrasso, current U.S. Senator from Wyoming (b. July 21, 1952)
*Albert Boscov, former chairman of Boscov's department store.
*George Bradley, Major League Baseball player, (b. July 13, 1852–d. October 2, 1931)
*Jack Coggins, Artist and Author (b. July 10, 1911 – d. January 30, 2006)
*Kayla Collins, Playboy Playmate August 2008 (b. April 1, 1987)
*Michael Constantine, Actor (b. May 22, 1927)
*Meg Foster, Actress (b. May 10, 1948)
*Harry Whittier Frees, Photographer (b. 1879)
*Carl Furillo, Brooklyn Dodgers (b. March 8, 1922 - d. January 21, 1989)
*David McMurtrie Gregg, Civil War general
*Stu Jackson, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA (b. December 11, 1955)
*Chip Kidd, book jacket designer at Knopf Publishing Group (b. 1964)
*Richie Kotzen, Rock guitarist (b. February 3, 1970)
*Donyell Marshall, NBA power forward (b. May 18, 1973)
*Lenny Moore, NFL running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer (b. November 25, 1933)
*James Nagle, Civil War general (b. April 5, 1822)
*Lori and Reba Schappell, Conjoined twins
*Ray Dennis Steckler, (Film Director, born 1939)
*Jim Steranko, Silver Age comic book artist (b. November 5, 1938)
*Taylor Swift, Singer/Songwriter (b. December 13, 1989)
*John Updike, Writer (b. March 18, 1932)
*Charlie Wagner, Boston Red Sox (b. December 3, 1912; d. August 30, 2006)
*Delores Wells, Actress, (b. October 17, 1937)


The Reading Public Museum is an art, science, and history museum in Reading.


External links

* [ City of Reading]
* [ Reading Fire Department]
* []
* [ The Reading Area Fire Fighter's Museum]
* [ Reading Emergency Medical Services]
* [ Reading Eagle Newspaper]
* [ "Back to Prosperity: A Profile of the Reading Area,"] Brookings Institution Report on recommendations for revitalization of cities in Pennsylvania
* [ Berks Economic Partnership] , Economic Development Agency which is the umbrella agency for the Greater Reading Economic Development Effort.
* [ Riverplace Development Corporation] , Schuylkill River Development.
* [ Initiative for a Competitive Greater Reading]
* [ Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry]
* [ Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau]
* [ Goggle Works Center for the Arts]
* [ Historical Society of Berks County]
* [ Reading Public Museum]
* [ Reading Symphony Orchestra]
* [ Reading Public Library]
* [ Go PA Outdoors]
* [ Berks.TV] Local Reading and Berks County video news
* [ Reading Sokols] Local Reading/Philadelphia Slovak Catholic Sokols group.

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