Reading (pron.: /ËrÉdÉªÅ/ RED-ing) is a city in southeastern Pennsylvania, USA, and seat of Berks County. Reading is the principal city of the Greater Reading Area and had a population of 88,082 as of the 2010 census, making it the fifth most populated city in the state, after Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown and Erie, and the fifth most-populous municipality. According to the 2010 census, Reading has the highest share of citizens living in poverty in the nation.
Overlooking the city on Mount Penn is Reading's symbol, a Japanese-style pagoda visible from almost everywhere in town and referred to locally as "The Pagoda". Built in 1908 as a hotel and restaurant, it remains a popular tourist attraction.
Another fixture to Reading's skyline is the William Penn Memorial Fire Tower; one mile from the Pagoda on Skyline Drive. Built in 1939 for fire department and forestry observation, the tower is 120 feet tall, and 950 feet elevation above the intersection of fifth and Penn Streets. From the top of the tower is a 60 mile panoramic view.
Duryea Drive, which ascends Mount Penn in a series of switchbacks, was a testing place for early automobiles and was named for Charles Duryea. The Blue Mountain Region Sports Car Club of America hosts the Duryea Hill Climb, the longest in the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association series, 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 River. The railroad is one of the four railroad properties in the classic United States version of the Monopoly board game. 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. Currently, Bachman, Dieffenbach, and Unique Pretzel bakeries call the Reading area home.
Reading is also known for the Reading Fightin Phils, minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies who play at FirstEnergy Stadium. Notable alumni are Larry Bowa, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins.
The city has been the residence of numerous professional athletes. Among these native to Reading are Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Carl Furillo, Baltimore Colts running back Lenny Moore, and Philadelphia 76ers forward Donyell Marshall.
Until the mid-1990s, Reading was the home of Joe's Restaurant, a little known eatery owned by Joe Czarnecki. His passion for fine wine and mushroom delicacies prompted Czarnecki to create a definitive cook book, "Joe's Book of Mushroom Cookery." His cook book transformed the Joe's Restaurant 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.
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
The book and movie Rabbit, Run and the other three novels of the Rabbit series by John Updike were set in fictionalized versions of Reading and nearby Shillington, called Brewer and Olinger respectively. Updike was born in Reading and lived in nearby Shillington until he was thirteen.
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.
Reading is the birthplace of graphic artist Jim Steranko, poet Wallace Stevens, Guitar Virtuoso Richie Kotzen and George Baer Hiester. Marching Band Composer and writer John Philip Sousa, the March King, died in Reading's Abraham Lincoln Hotel in 1932. Keith Haring, NFL quarterbacks Chad Henne, Kerry Collins, wide receiver Steve Kreider and country singer Taylor Swift are not from the City of Reading, but surrounding towns in Berks County.