Difference between revisions of "Reading (Pennsylvania)"
Revision as of 05:10, 12 July 2012
Reading is a very old and historic city in Pennsylvania. It was once home to one of the largest railway systems in the country, (where the familiar Reading Railroad from the Monopoly board comes from)which radiated in all directions from the City of Reading. The construction of the railroad was probably the single greatest factor in the development of Berks county. While Reading has experienced an economic downturn, efforts are being made to try and revitalize the city's downtown area with such projects as the Sovereign Center, the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, the Miller Center and the recently created Goggle Works Center for the Arts, and the Reading Movies 11, which includes an IMAX theater. Today, Reading is a city pulsating with industrial life. It is also well equipped with agencies that represent civilization at it's best-churches, hospitals, clubs, fraternal societies, recreational centers, schools and colleges, a historical society, an art institute, and a daily newspaper. Reading claims the distinction of a symphony orchestra, two choral societies, a chamber musical ensemble, a civic opera company, and many other excellent music groups that have contributed to the city's prestige as a center of art and culture. Reading is not only an excellent place to visit because of what it has to offer but also because of its convenient location in relation to other popular destinations. Reading is centrally located, about an hour northwest of Philadelphia, 2 and 1/2 hours southwest of New York City, 3 hours north of Washington, DC, 40 minutes from the Amish country and about an hour from Hershey park and Dorney Park which offers a lot of opportunities for day trips for tourists staying in the area. Reading also lies only about 2 1/2 to about 3 1/2 hours from some beautiful shore resorts in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.
Most arrive if not by highway then by the Philadelphia International Airport. Although Reading has its own regional airport, commercial passenger service via US Airways stopped in 2004. Lehigh Valley International Airport near Allentown, Harrisburg International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport are within reasonable driving distance.
Also, there is a shuttle service to and from the Philadelphia airport.
Reading is served by many major bus services such as Greyhound, Bieber, and Trailways.
Berks Area Reading Transit Authority (BARTA) (610)921-0601  runs buses in Reading and throughout the Berks Region. Base fare is $1.70, transfers are $.25.
There are many taxi cab services that offer 24 hour transportation around Reading .
Recently created is The Goggle Works Center for the Arts, a large arts center built out of a factory that used to manufacture goggles for WWII. It boasts frequent art exhibitions as well as a very wide variety of art studios and classes. It also has a small theater that shows independent films.
The Reading Museum houses a modest collection of exhibits from around the world, most notably a mummy. There's also a planetarium and a botanical garden on the grounds. Many brides from the area choose to have their wedding pictures taken in the gardens.
The Central Pennsylvania African-American Museum  is in the old AME Church (the sixth one in the world) and features an actual hide-out tunnel that was part of the Underground Railroad used by escaping slaves during the pre-Civil War era.
The Golden Age Air Museum, in the far reaches of Berks County; nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains in Bethel, Pa, features many antique airplanes, most built before 1930, and many still flown today. The museum offers Barnstorming Biplane rides and Flying Circus Air Show several times per year.
Every September, the Lions Club hosts an antique car show in Strausstown; Directly off of I-78.
Several attractions can be seen atop Mount Penn, overlooking the city. The fire tower, which has been recently restored, and the trademark Pagoda, which also houses various artwork. The Pagoda was originally intended to be a luxury hotel. Unfortunately, when the application for a license to serve alcohol was denied the luxury inn never materialized and the building went into the hands of a local bank.
West Reading, across the river, has a thriving arts scene and Penn Avenue is host to many independent cafés and stores.
A new Imax theater has been built in Reading. R/C Theatres Located near the Goggle works on 30 North second street. It offers stadium seating with high back rocking chairs, Imax auditorium, online ticketing, game and party rooms, and free three hour parking .
Reading and the surrounding area of Berks County have a beautiful park system. They have 13 parks to visit and enjoy, including Gring's Mill Recreation Area, the Union Canal Walking & Bicycle Trail, Kaercher Creek Park, Antietam Lake and the Berks County Heritage Center. They offer recreation and educational programs year-round. Whether you enjoy summer concerts in the park, festivals, or historical programs; There is something for all ages!
There are a few sports clubs around, along with the Sovereign Center which houses many sporting events including the Reading Royals, the local hockey team and the Reading Express, an IFL indoor football team. It first opened its doors in September of 2001 and began hosting several different events. The center has attracted many famous artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, the Blue Man Group, Matchbox 20, the American Idol Tour, Rod Stewart, Kid Rock, and Clay Aikan. The Sovereign Performing Arts Center also hosts many traveling productions such as the Nutcracker around the holidays and the Reading Symphony orchestra, a surprisingly excellent group given the town it's in.
The Reading Comedy Outlet(Cleverly named for Reading's famous shopping centers), situated at Hiester's lanes Bowling and Billiards, has been serving the Reading area since 1992.
The Reading Phillies, the minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, play out of Reading Metropolitan Stadium. The stadium is one of the oldest minor league stadiums and is regarded as one of the finest facilities in the nation.
The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, a diverse collection of military and civilian aircraft, as well as the active restoration of a WW2 P-61 Black Widow. Every June the museum hosts 'WWII Weekend', a traveling collection of wartime aircraft, weapons, and wartime vehicles.
There are also many golf courses in the Reading area. One in particular is The Reading Country Club. It is 18 holes in the outskirts of Reading in Exeter Township. It is a challenging public course measuring 6,1612 yards and a par of 71. The course had been open since 1922 and in 1937 Byron Nelson, a Masters Champion, was the golf pro. Later in 1940 Henry Clay Poe became the golf pro at The Reading Country Club. Many more golf pro's came after them, but these two are memorable enough to have a room named after each of them in the clubhouse, that is now a beautiful restaurant. Within the clubhouse, you can either enjoy the excellent food in the Grille Room or on the Porch. The Grille room is a casual atmosphere where there are 6 tvs to watch the latest sporting events and a beautiful bar where you can enjoy a drink after a round of golf or while you're waiting for your table. But if you'd rather a more romantic atmosphere try dining in the Porch.
Another great place that everyone will enjoy is Berks Lanes. It is located in Sinking Spring, PA at 3190 Shillington Road. Whether you want to join a league, glow bowl, have a birthday party, or just hang out with friends and family, Berks Lanes has something for everyone. They have an extensive food menu, an arcade, billiards, bumpers for kids, and a lounge.
Every October the Oktoberfest is held right near the historic Stokesay castle in Mount Penn. The Oktoberfest is put on by the Reading Liederkranz. It is a festival of culture, food, clothing, crafts, and dance. 
Each March the Berks Jazz Fest comes to town for 10 days and offers many musical experiences for residents and visitors. Some past performers have included some well known names such as Chris Bottie, Betty Carter, the Dave Brubeck Quartet and Wynton Marsalis.
The Apple Dumpling festival and pageant is held every summer at Willow Glen Park. It includes a craft show, company picnics, food, pageants, and carnival rides. 
Every winter Reading hold the Jingle Bell Fest. A light display, Holiday Music, Childrens rides, and holiday food. Like the Apple Dumpling Festival it is held at Willow Glen Park. 
Every Fall Willow Glen Park holds Shocktober fest: Pennsylvania’s Premier Haunted Scream Park. It offers 4 different haunted attractions: the Toxic Asylum, Biohazard Hayride w/ The SawKill, Prison of the Dead, and Club Shock. According to the Travel Channel it is “one of the scariest places in America”. 
Every Spring the Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Reading Pennsylvania is held at the River Place on the Schuylkill. It offers a guided bike ride, Japanese films, and dragon viewings. 
Another popular festival is the Kutztown Folk Festival located about 15 miles northwest of Reading. The festival is very well known and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The Oley Valley Community Fair is a very unique true old fashioned, down home, country fair. In 2010, it marked the 64th anniversary. The fair promotes good, friendly competition among friends and neighbors of the surrounding area. Each year you can see a wide variety of local products from the farm and home that are entered in many different categories.
The Duryea Hillclimb, a biannual race held by the SCCA on Reading's famous Skyline Drive; Beginning at Reading Park, around a series of chicanes, and past the Pagoda has been held since 1951.
Another great event to attend in the area would be Reading Earth Day. On this day, there are many eco activities and presenters for people to enjoy. Also, plenty of entertainment, good food, and free activities for kids.
Reading still calls itself the outlet capitol of the world, though the name is a remnant of when it was one of the few cities to boast outlets. Still, the VF Outlet Complex  remains one of Reading's biggest draws with hundreds of out-of-town visitors shopping its dozens of discount stores daily. Another part of Reading's history is the store named Boscovs. Reading is home to Boscovs first store. Boscovs is now re-owned by Albert Boscov. Boscov's has grown into a 39 store company throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Boscov's is one of the largest family owned department store chains in the U.S. Boscov's used to sponsor the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade previous to its bankruptcy in August of 2008, but don't let that discourage you because Boscov's is back on its feet and reorganizing to save this family owned store and an asset to the community.
Shopping centers and malls
There are also many strip malls and one true mall in the Reading area. Exeter Commons shopping center which opened in the summer of 2009 offers Lowe's, Target, Giant, Staples, Petco, and Famous Footwear. The Shoppes at Wyomissing are fairly new and have higher end shops such as Rack Room Shoes, Justice, New York and Company, Loft, J.Jill, Coldwater Creek, Chico's, Jos. A. Bank, Yankee Candle and Gymboree. The Broadcasting Square shopping center has your average stores such as Target, Ulta, Dick's, Marshall's, Famous Footwear, Petco, Ross, and Barnes and Noble. The Berkshire Mall is a medium scale mall, it includes stores such as Hollister, American Eagle, Wet Seal, Christopher Banks, Pacific Sunwear, Bath and Body Works, and Victoria's Secret. Also along Penn Ave. in West Reading a lot of mom and pop boutiques that are one of a kind and are very interesting to walk through. Specifically, Bella Jules has a great selection of items from different well-known designers along with a fabulous selection of prom dresses.
Until the mid 1990's, Reading was the home of Joe's Restaurant - A humbly named eatery owned by Joe Czarnecki; Whose passion for fine wine and mushroom delicacies created a definitive cook book, "Joe's Book of Mushroom Cookery" and transformed the family business into a world renown institution of fine dining. It was in 1996, after Joe's passing, the family moved the restaurant to the Palmer House in Dayton, Oregon.
Reading has a resurging dining scene with many locally owned ethnic restaurants. Longstanding Jimmy Kramer's The Peanut Bar is the place where local reporters and politicians have often met. In existence for almost 100 years, the bar allows patrons to throw peanut shells on the floor.
There are many other wonderful dining options including but not limited to;
The recently expanded Mezcal's Mexican Restaurant is located at 150 N. 6th street and offers delicious traditional Mexican cuisine at competetive prices. Reservations are recommended on nights of performances at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center.
The Captains Cove Restaurant/Bar is located in Mount Penn at 2619 Hill Rd. It offers a pirate themed outdoor seating area as well as a indoor seating area. It also has several bar areas located inside and outside. 
The newly renovated Stokesay Castle is Reading's newest, and arguably it's finest gourmet offering. Notable among the 13th century Scottish castle's architecture is Andrea Heinly, a 'Hell's Kitchen' contestant and chef on staff.
Another excellent option for fine dining is Judy's on Cherry
For Vietnamese food Hong Thahn is a delicious choice. Privately owned, the restaurant offers well prepared traditional dishes paired with a pleasant atmosphere.
Aashiana Indian Restaurant is your best choice for Indian food.
When you leave the city proper Penn Street continues under the name Penn Avenues and your dining opportunities do not stop either.
Go Fish! Is a great seafood market and sushi bar located in west reading. It allows you to dine in but it also allows you to order your food to go. 619 Penn Ave. 
Another great place for a sushi lover to visit is the Tokyo Hibachi and Bar which has a large variety of Asian cuisine options. Whether it is Hibachi, Sushi, or traditional Chinese cuisine this restaurant will please everyone.
Reading also has Panda Heaven in its area. Located at 350 N. Park Rd, Wyomissing, PA 19610, is a great Chinese Food Restaurant. Their menu consists of miso soup, chicken teriyaki, sushi tuna, and so much more. They have a sushi bar, hibatchi steak house, a conference room available, and they also provide take-out.
For Mexican food in the more suburban areas you should definitely check out the locally owned chain, Alebreje. There are 3 locations for this restaurant but the most popular is located on the 4th street highway.
Viva Good Life Bistro & Lounge. Located at 901 Hill Ave. French Cuisine that has room for meetings, banquets, and parties. Viva also offers a Take-Out Menu. 
Works. Located at 1109 Bern Road (610) 375-2700. Traditional American cuisine. The Works has an arcade, miniature bowling alleys, and real sports located inside the restaurant. 
For italian food you're best options are the family owned G.N.A. Ristorante Pizzeria and Toscani which both offer a large variety of delecious italian dishes, a family friendly atmosphere and are open for brunch on sundays.
Aladdin is a great option for anyone interested in Mediterranean cuisine.
The area also offers many diners that are favorites of the local residents. These include the West Reading Diner, Wyomissing Family Restuarant, Mount Penn Diner, Exeter Family Restaurant, and Queen City Restaurant
Many corners of Reading house small bars and pubs, if you're feeling adventurous. A new addition to Reading's drinking atomosphere is the Winedown cafe & wine bar . Winedown cafe is a very relaxed atmosphere for all wine lovers. winedown is located on Penn Ave in West Reading.
For visitors interested in a more intimate experience Reading offers some very quaint bed and breakfasts which are in close proximity to many of the most visited attractions.
One of these is the Overlook Mansion Bed and Breakfast which aside from being located in one of the most historic areas of Reading offers complimentary beverages and snacks throughout the day and beautiful grounds where visitors can sit outside on warm days.
Another option is Bed and Breakfast on the Park which is located in a historic Victorian style mansion in one of Reading's oldest neighborhoods. Every room is uniquely and beautifully decorated and there are many activities offered on the grounds daily.
Reading's crime rate is much higher than the national average. In 2006, Reading's theft was 2827.2 per 100,000 people, compared to the U.S. average of 398.4 per 100,000 people. Reading has experienced gang-related crime in the last several years. Reading had more murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, and arsons than the U.S. average.