Reading Terminal Market
12th and Arch Streets
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
This 75,000 square-foot market hall opened in 1892 - then the world's largest indoor food market - but its roots go back to the 1600s.
The market has everything from homemade falafel, to caviar to Amish pretzels freshly rolled and baked all day long. Local specialties from over 80 vendors include scrapple, cheesesteaks, chocolate-covered pretzels, Black Angus steaks, smoked hams and Basset's Ice Cream - where you can still sit at the original marble counters and people-watch. The market is open Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm.
History & Background
Reading Terminal Market was built by the Reading Railroad in 1892, and was the world's largest indoor food market when it opened. Its development can be traced back to the late 1600's when farmers and fishermen set up informally on the banks of the Delaware River. The market grew from an open-air facility to a shed market to a medium-sized market hall and finally into the current building at the turn of the 20th century. The market was located on street level under the Reading train terminal.
It was a marvel of its time, with refrigeration in the basement, marble counters and all manner of goods from local producers and from around the world. The market flourished for nearly half a century and then almost imperceptibly went into a slow decline after World War II. In the 1970s it nearly closed; the Reading Railroad, having recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings, decided to reinvest in the market and its other adjacent properties. The market's fortunes reversed and it once again regained its preeminence as "the" place to shop for high-quality fresh foods. In 1990, the Reading Railroad sold the market to the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority; however, it is managed by Reading Terminal Market Corporation, a nonprofit entity formed to lease and manage the market in accordance with its historic tradition.
Reading Terminal Market Corporation