Reading ( , ) is a city in
southeastern Pennsylvania, USA, and seat of Berks County. The center of the Greater Reading
Area, it had a population of 81,207 in the 2000 census; by 2008, it was
estimated to have fallen to 80,560, making it the fifth largest
city in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, and Erie, and the sixth largest municipality after Upper Darby
Overlooking the city on Mount Penn is Reading's symbol, a
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
Duryea Drive, which ascends Mount Penn in a series of sharp bends,
was a testing place for early automobiles and was named for
. The Blue Mountain
Region SCCA hosts the longest hill climb in the PHA series, the
Duryea Hill Climb, which follows the same route the automaker used
to test his cars.
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
. The railroad
is one of the four
railroad properties in the classic English-language version of the
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
Legendary left-handed pitcher Ty Sofflet
led Reading to several fast-pitch softball victories in the
The city has been the residence of numerous professional athletes
of national stature. Among the athletes native to the Reading are
Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Carl
Colts running back Lenny Moore
, and Philadelphia 76ers forward Donyell Marshall
The open-wheel racing portion of Penske Racing had been based in
Reading, Pennsylvania since 1973 with the cars, during the F1 and
CART era, being constructed in Poole, Dorset, England as well as
being the base for the F1 team. On October 31, 2005, Penske Racing
announced after the 2006 IRL season, they would consolidate IRL and
NASCAR operations at the team's Mooresville North Carolina
facility; with the flooding in Pennsylvania in 2006, the team's
operations were moved to Mooresville earlier than expected. Penske
Truck Leasing is still based in Reading
and movie Rabbit, Run and
others of the Rabbit series were set in fictionalized
versions of Reading and nearby Shillington, called Brewer
These stories were written by John Updike
, who was born in Reading and lived
in nearby Shillington until he was thirteen.
Six institutions of higher education serve the Reading area.
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.
Reading is the birth place of artist [[Keith Haring], graphic
artist Jim Steranko
, poet Wallace Stevens
, and country singer Taylor Swift
, the March King, died there in 1932.
In 1743, Richard and Thomas Penn (sons of William Penn
the founder of Pennsylvania, and
grandsons of Sir William Penn
whom Pennsylvania is named) planned the town of Reading with
. 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
, Reading was a military base for a chain of forts along the
the region was being settled by emigrants from southern and western
Pennsylvanian German dialect was spoken in Reading well into the
1950s and later.
By the time of the American
, the area's iron
industry had a
total production which exceeded England's, an output that would
help supply George Washington
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
The Philadelphia and
(P&R) was incorporated in 1833. During the
Panic of 1873
, a statewide railroad strike
1877 over delayed wages led to a violent protest and clash with the
National Guard in which six Reading men were killed. 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 passenger service lines. On April 1, 1976, the
Reading Company sold its current railroad interests to the newly
formed Consolidated Railroad Corporation (Conrail
Reading's Pagoda seen from Skyline
Early in the 20th century, the city participated in the burgeoning
industry, hosting the pioneer
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.
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.
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 1972, Hurricane Agnes
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.
early 1970s, the original factories were developed to create the
VF Outlet Village
first outlet mall in the United States. The mall is so successful
that it draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to Reading every
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. 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, NBC
show featured Reading as one
of the top four "Up and Coming Neighborhoods" in the United States
as showing potential for a real estate boom. The interviewee
chose the city by
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. Corcoran also noted Reading's proximity to
York, and other
The climate in and around Reading is variable, but relatively mild
overall. The Reading area is generally considered to be on the
northern edge of the humid
zone, as areas just to the north are in the
humid continental climate
zone. Summers are very warm and sticky, with average July highs
around 85 °F. Extended periods of heat and high humidity do occur.
On average, there are about 15–20 days per year where the
temperature exceeds 90 °F. Autumn can be gorgeous, as the heat and
humidity of summer move out and clearer skies and lower humidity
and temperatures move in. The first killing frost generally occurs
in mid to late October.
Winters can occasionally be harsh, but it is rarely long-lived. A
respectable snowstorm will occur from time to time, but the harsher
winter conditions experienced to the north and west don't often
visit Reading and Berks. It is not unusual for temperatures to fall
to 0 °F at least once per winter, but rarely are below zero
temperatures reported. Average January highs are in the upper 30s,
average January low is around 20 °F. The all-time record low was
−21 °F during a widespread cold wave
January 1994 (actual temp, not wind chill). Annual snowfall is
variable, but averages around 32 inches. There may be 60 or more
inches (152 cm) of snow in a winter (which is rare), as in 1993–94,
1995–96, and 2002–03, but then the following winter may feature
very little snowfall. Spring is variable, it may snow one day in
March and then a few days later temps may be in the 70s. The last
killing frost usually is in later April, but freezing temperatures
have occurred into May. Total precipitation for the entire year is
around 44 inches (112 cm).
located at (40.341692, -75.926301) in southeastern Pennsylvania, roughly 65 miles (93 km) northwest of
According to the United States Census Bureau
city has a total area of 10.1 square
). 9.8 square
miles (25.4 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles
(0.6 km²) of it (2.39%) is water. The total area is 2.39%
water. 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 Reading Prong, the mountain formation
stretching north into New
Jersey, has come to be associated with naturally-occurring
radon gas; however, homes in Reading are not
The surrounding county is home to a
number of family-owned farms.
Public transit in Reading and its surrounding communities has been
provided since 1973 by BARTA
, the Berks Area
Reading Transit Authority. BARTA has an active fleet of 53 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.
is designated as Lancaster Avenue, Bingaman
Street, South 4th Street, and 5th Street. U.S.
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
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.
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
Passenger trains ran between Pottsville, Reading, Pottstown and
Philadelphia until July 29, 1981, when transit operator SEPTA
curtailed commuter service to electrified lines.
Since then, there have been repeated calls for the resumption of
the sorely needed services.
late 1990s and up to 2003, 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 passenger line to Pottstown, Reading, and Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.
The overpriced 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,
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
- Center City/Downtown Reading
- Southeast Reading
- Northeast Reading
- Northwest Reading
- South Central Reading
- Oakbrook/Wyomissing Park
- Hampden Heights
As of the census
of 2000, there were 81,207
people, 30,113 households, and 18,429 families residing in the
city. The population density
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%
, 12.25% African American
, 0.04% Pacific Islander
, 22.32% from
, and 4.18% from two
or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 37.31%
of the population.
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
the Reading metropolitan statistical area was the second most
segregated place for Hispanics in the United States, behind only
Only 2.1% of the rest of Berks County
is Hispanic or Latino, while this ethnic group is highly
concentrated in certain city neighborhoods.
According to the US Census Bureau, Reading's population in 2008 was
80,888. 51.9% of the residents were White
, 11.9% were African American
, 0.3% were
, 0.1% were Pacific Islander
, 30.3% from
, and 3.9% from two or
more races. 52.1% were Hispanic
of any race, with 28.7% being of
descent. Reading has the
percentage of Hispanics in a single city in Pennsylvania
cities in the state with high Hispanic populations include
Allentown, Lancaster, and Bethlehem.
32.9% of all residents live below the poverty level, including
45.7% of those under 18. Reading has an unemployment rate of
Four institutions of higher learning are located within Reading's
Three high schools serve the city:
The Reading School District provides elementary and middle schools
for the city's children. Numerous Catholic
available. It is possible to get a complete education, from
kindergarten through college, on 13th Street.
Reading played host to a stop on the PGA
, the Reading Open
, in the late
1940s and early 1950s.The mechanical ice cream scoop was invented
in Reading by William Clewell in 1878. He didn’t patent it and 100
years later another inventor claimed it. The 5th Ave Bar and York
Peppermint Patty were invented in Reading. The first Amish
community in the country was established in Greater Reading, Berks
- Gus Alberts, Major League Baseball player (b.
1861–d. May 7, 1912)
- John Barrasso, current U.S.
from Wyoming (b. July 21, 1952)
- Daniel Boone, American Pioneer (b.
November 2, 1742; d. September 26, 1820)
- Albert Boscov, 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)
- Forrest Compton, actor (b. Sept.
15, 1925 in Reading)
- Michael Constantine, actor
(b. May 22, 1927)
- Meg Foster, actress (b. May 10,
- Harry Whittier Frees,
photographer (b. 1879)
- Carl Furillo, Brooklyn Dodgers (b. March 8, 1922 - d.
January 21, 1989)
- David McMurtrie Gregg,
American 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.
- Richie Kotzen, rock guitarist (b.
February 3, 1970)
- Henry Larkin, Major League Baseball player (b.
January 12, 1860; d. January 31, 1942). Captain of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1888.
- Donyell Marshall, NBA power
forward (b. May 18, 1973)
- Lenny Moore, NFL running back and
Pro Football Hall of Famer (b. November 25, 1933)
- Stephen Mull, United States
Assistant Secretary of State for Political Ministry Affairs, Former
U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania
- Jillian Murray, actress (b. June
- James Nagle, Civil War general (b.
April 5, 1822)
- Lori and Reba Schappell,
- Ray Dennis Steckler, film
director (b. 1939)
- Jim Steranko, Silver Age comic book
artist (b. November 5, 1938)
- Wallace Stevens, poet (b.
October 2, 1879)
- Joe Toye, fought in World War II with E Company of
the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment featured in Band of Brothers (b.
March 14, 1919; d. September 3, 1995)
- John Updike, author (b. March 18,
1932 - d. Jan. 27, 2009)
- Charlie Wagner, Boston Red Sox (b. December 3, 1912; d.
August 30, 2006)
- Delores Wells, actress (b. October
- Thomas C. Zimmerman, Pennsylvania German writer and
translator, notable for his translations of English language
classics into the Pennsylvania German
Public Museum is an art, science, and history museum in
The Reading Pagoda, located atop Mount Penn, is
also a popular recreational stop for tourists and residents
- Sports Illustrated, May 28, 1979
- Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States
1492-Present (New York: HarperPerennial, 1995), p. 243.
- Clymer, Floyd. Treasury of Early American Automobiles,
1877-1925 (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.158.
- Historical Review of Berks County, Summer,
- City Crime Rankings by Population Group
- Interview with Barbara Corcoran on NBC's Today show. Online. December 2007. Retrieved 27 September
- Mr. Stephen D. Mull Nominated as New United States
Ambassador to Lithuania: Biography