The first inhabitants of Reading were the Lenni Lenape people. King Charles II of England gave the 45,000-square mile land of the Colony of Pennsylvania to William Penn.
The sons of William Penn sketched the town of Reading. The city was founded after the name of Reading, England, in 1748. In 1752, immediately after the establishment of Berks County, Reading became the official county seat. The Greater Reading became the home of the first Amish community. The language dominantly spoken in the region was the Pennsylvanian German dialect. Reading became a center of military action and a base for trading posts in the French and Indian War.
Reading’s iron production was larger than that of England’s during the American Revolution. It aided the troops of George Washington in their need for ammunition and canons during the Revolutionary War. Reading is a major storehouse of military needs during the early years of the war.
During the time when the Yellow Fever Epidemic plagued the United States, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the country’s capital. The president during that time was President Washington. He made a visit to Reading and thought of making Reading the emergency national capital. But he, later on, decided to grant it to Germantown.
After the completion of the Schuylkill Canal in 1825, Reading became connected with Philadelphia and the Delaware River. Three years after the north-south canal construction, the east-west canal that connected Schuylkill and Susquehanna Rivers. In the 1880s, railroads led to the abandonment of the canals.
The incorporation of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad took place in 1833. There was a massive railroad strike in 1877 because of delayed salaries. People were killed during this violent protest. After the prosperous century of Reading Company, they filed for bankruptcy protection. Their bankruptcy was filed because rigid government regulations that asked for high taxes and did not allow the company to set higher prices. The Consolidated Railroad Corporation acquired the Reading Company’s railroad interests in 1976.
Reading joined the flourishing industry of the automobile in the early 20th century. Reading became home to Daniels Motor Company and Reading-Standard Company.
The city of Reading continued to develop until the 1930s. Its population also skyrocketed at this time. However, from the 1940s through the 1970s, there was a significant economic decline in the city. This resulted from the downturn of railroads and manufacturing industries where the city gets much of its profit.
Hurricane Agnes in 1972, left the city in flood. The precincts of Reading were heavily affected. In June 2006, the city faced the same ordeal when another hurricane came.
The problem of decline in population in the city of Reading had come to an end according to the 2000 census. The improvement of the city’s population was attributed to the immigration of Hispanic settlers and the spreading of residents from Philadelphia’s suburbs.
Crimes were one of the issues that Reading had to overcome. Due to their efforts and strategies to battle crime, they dropped in the ranking of the most dangerous cities to live in.