The land we now know as Reading was chosen in 1733. The site was set to become the conjunction of the Schuylkill River and the east Penn-Lebanon Valley. Until 1743 when a a Penn Land agent, Thomas Lawrence tried to map out Reading, the area was known as Finney’s Ford
Thomas and Richard Penn made the plan of the town. Reading was named after Reading, England’s county seat. It was pronounced the county seat of Berks in 1752.
Reading was a military center for several strongholds around the Blue Mountains at the time of the French and Indian War. There was a boom in the local iron industry during the time of the Revolution. Reading had more iron production than England. Their production significantly aided the troops of Washington in terms of their rifles, cannons, and ammunition. At the onset of the war, Reading yet again became primary storage for military supplies. It also became a detention area for Hessian prisoners from the battle of Trenton. Reading made a significant contribution in terms of production in several wars, including the Civil War and World War II.
Two canals were constructed in the 1800s to ease the transportation of bulk cargo during that time. The north-south Schuylkill Canal was established in 1825, which ran across the Schuylkill River. It intersected the city with Delaware River as well as the Philadelphia. In 1828, the east-west Union Canal was built, and it connected Schuylkill to Susquehanna Rivers. By the 1880s, railroads were laid that resulted in the abandonment of the canals.
In 1833, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad’s incorporation took place. A massive railroad strike took place in 1877 at the time of the Long Depression due to delayed wages. It resulted in violent attacks and a feud with the National Guard. Six men from Reading died in that incident. After over a hundred years of fortune, the Reading Company applied for bankruptcy protection in 1971. The coal shipping revenue gradually declined, which resulted in the bankruptcy. The strict government rules denying railroads to set competitive prices and asking for high taxes also contributed to the loss in revenue of the company. The Reading Company sold its railroad interests to Conrail in April 1976.
The great turnpike and canal era transpired during the early years of the 19th century. Subsequently, the construction of the Reading Railroad that ran in all areas from Reading City was completed. The establishment of the railroad made a significant impact on the advancement of the county of Berks.
One of the most critical industries in Berks is agriculture. In fact, it ranks 3rd among counties in Pennsylvania in cash receipts with an income of $73.9 million. The county’s income comes from its crops, poultry, and meat products.
At present, Reading is a growing city with an active industrial life. It has some of the best churches, hospitals, as well as recreational establishments that we know. There are schools and colleges and various art institutions that Reading houses. It also produced its own daily newspaper.
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