Reading, a city and the capital of Berks co., Pennsylvania, on the E. bank of the Schuylkill river, here crossed by three bridges, and on the Schuylkill and Union canals, at the intersection of several branches of the Philadelphia and Reading railroad with the Wilmington and Reading line, 54 m. E. of Harrisburg and 58 m. N. W. of Philadelphia; pop. in 1800, 2,385; in 1810, 3,463; in 1820, 4,352; in 1830, 5,859; in 1840, 8,410; in 1850, 15,743; in 1860, 23,162; in 1870, 33,930, of whom 3,871 were foreigners. It is very pleasantly situated on an elevated and ascending plain, backed on the east by Penn's Mount, and on the south by the Neversink mountain, from both of which flow streams of pure water, abundantly supplying the city. It is regularly laid out, well built, and kept neat and cleanly. The streets cross each other at right angles, and in the centre is a square on which are the chief hotels and stores. The court house is a very handsome edifice with a fine portico, sustained by six columns of red sandstone. Other public buildings are the city hall, county jail, opera house, and academy of music.
Of the churches the most conspicuous are Trinity (German Lutheran), an antique building with a spire 210 ft. high, and Christ (Episcopal), an imposing Gothic edifice of red sandstone with a spire 202 ft. high. Reading is surrounded by a rich farming country, with which it has a very important trade. The inhabitants of this district are chiefly of German origin, and a dialect of German, known as Pennsylvania Dutch, prevails extensively among them. The city is especially noted for its manufactures, among which the production and working of iron hold the first rank. Much of the ore is obtained from Penn's Mount. The chief establishments are 6 furnaces, 2 forges, 7 founderies, 5 rolling mills, a nail factory, 15 machine shops, 3 manufactories of iron ware of various sorts, 3 of steam boilers, 2 of nuts and bolts, and 3 of iron pipe. There are also a cotton mill, 13 shoe factories, 8 tanneries, 6 breweries, 9 brick factories, 9 manufactories of furniture, 80 of cigars, one of spokes, one of rope, one of carpets, one of spectacles, 10 of wool hats, 6 of cooperage, 2 distilleries, 3 paper mills, and 5 planing mills. The shops of the Philadelphia and Reading railroad employ 2,800 men.
Reading contains three national banks with an aggregate capital of $700,000, a savings bank with $100,000 capital, and four lire insurance companies. It is divided into nine wards, and is governed by a mayor, a select council of nine members (one from each ward), and a common council of 28. There are an efficient fire department and a police force. The principal charitable associations are a dispensary and a female orphan asylum. The public schools and departments comprise 1 normal school, 1 high school, 11 grammar, 18 secondary, and 33 primary departments, and 1 colored school. The number of teachers in 1874 was 121; pupils enrolled, 6,457; average attendance, 5,326. The Reading library contains 3,000 volumes. Three daily (one German) and eight weekly (six German) newspapers, and one semi-monthly (German) periodical are published. There are 31 churches, viz.: 2 Baptist, 1 Church of God, 2 Episcopal, 3 Evangelical Association, 1 Friends', 5 Lutheran, 4 Methodist, 3 Presbyterian, 5 Reformed, 2 Roman Catholic, 1 United Brethren, 1 United Brethren in Christ, and 1 Universalist. - Reading was laid out in 1748. It was incorporated as a borough in 1783, and as a city in 1847.
Reading, a borough of England, county town of Berkshire, on the Kennet, near its junction with the Thames, 39 m. W. by S. of London; pop. in 1871, 32,324. It has greatly improved within the past 20 years, and is now an important centre of railways and of trade. There are several fine churches. A working men's hall was opened in 1862, the town hall was enlarged in 1863, and the elegant station of the. Great Western railway was completed in 1868. Flour and grain are largely exported to London. Silk and agricultural implements are manufactured, and there are iron founderies, breweries, and extensive biscuit bakeries. - Reading is very ancient, has returned two members to parliament since the time of Edward I., and has been the scene of important historical events.