History of West Reading

Historical Photos & Timeline

Historical PhotoHistorical Photos

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Historical Timeline

1733 - Three Welshmen- Hugh Jones, David Lewis, and Evan Price were the first settlers to be granted warrants for the land west of the Schuylkill River.

1810 - A brick home, one the first buildings in what would become West Reading, is erected and occupied by William Hinnershitz.

1857 - The Lebanon Valley Railroad Bridge is completed.

1873 - Frederick Frill laid out his plan of lots on land which consisted of about 90 acres. The Frill plan covered land that was north of Chestnut Street and east of Tulpehocken Avenue.

1874 - George Eckert purchased a block of lots along Penn Avenue, extending from Second to Third Avenue.

1876 - The largest industry was the Alexander Hat Factory at First Avenue and Franklin Street.

1877 - The Lebanon Valley Railroad bridge was destroyed during the railroad riot.

1884 - The Penn Street Bridge is replaced with one made with steel trusses.

1898 - Spring Township builds a new eight-room brick school building on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Chestnut Street.

1901 - West Reading Fire Company No. 1 is incorporated.

1907 - On March 18th, West Reading is incorporated as a Borough. The first public election is held at John Kintzer's public house; the first Borough officials are elected. In addition, West Reading's Board of Education is organized; the first school sessions for the West Reading School District are held at a school building on the corner of 5th and Chestnut Streets.

1908 - Sessions for grades 7and 8 are held in a private house on the southeast corner of 5th and Franklin Streets.

1910 - A two-story brick engine house is erected in the 400 block of Franklin Street.

1913 - The steel truss Penn Avenue bridge is replaced with a concrete arch bridge.

1914 - West Reading High School is built on the corner of 4th and Franklin Streets.

1919 - The largest industry in West Reading is Narrow Fabric Co., manufacturer of undergarments.

1923 - The Borough police force is established with one police officer.  A new auditorium/gymnasium was added to the high school.

1925 - The West Side News, a monthly newspaper published and distributed in the Borough, begins a nearly 40-year run.

1926 - The Borough acquires property at South Fifth Avenue and Chestnut Street for the new borough hall, which is completed the following year. Final construction of the east and west classroom wings and library are added to the high school.

1929 - Borough Council decides to construct a new playground on 16 acres at Westside Road (now called Museum Road) and Sycamore Road.

1932 - The Buttonwood Street Bridge is built between West Reading and Reading.

1939 - Wyomissing Industries presents the citizens of West Reading with a $25,000 stone field house for the borough playground, which is now a well-rounded recreational facility with a swimming pool, wading pool, athletic field, quarter-mile track, ice skating rink, and basketball, volleyball and tennis courts.

1950 - West Reading is the largest of the county's 30 boroughs.

1953 - The new West Reading Elementary building is constructed on the northwest corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets.

1954 - The school building located at Fifth Avenue and Chestnut Street is razed to provide space for a school play area.

1968 - West Reading Borough Council joins two other boroughs- Shillington and Wyomissing- in the formation of a regional water supply system, later to be known as the Western Berks Water Authority, to "collect, treat, and transmit water from the contemplated Blue Marsh Dam area and sell it to prospective customers."

1969 - The West Reading and Wyomissing School Districts merge.

1985 - The Wyomissing Area School District sells the West Reading High School Building. The building becomes the "Public School Commons" apartments.

1999 - The "Main Street" project begins the revitalization of Penn Avenue.

2002 - A new fire station is erected at Parkview Road and Playground Drive.

2005 - West Reading Borough Council joins with the Borough of Wyomissing, Spring Township, and Sinking Spring Borough to create the West Side Emergency Management Agency.

2006 - Penn View Motel demolition begins. In addition, the former Neg-Tech building at Chestnut and Yarnell Streets is demolished- making way for three new townhouses.  Construction begins with 58 new townhouses on the former Narrow Fabric property west of Tulpehocken Avenue.

2017 - The Berkshire Knitting Mills, once the world's largest hosiery manufacturer, which occupied the site from early 1900's until its purchase in 1969 by Vanity Fair Corporation underwent renovations to transform the four-story building into an office and retail campus known as the Knitting Mills.

2018 - The former Narrow Fabric manufacturing building underwent renovations with a restaurant and gym located on the first floor and the top three floors featuring one and two-bedroom apartments.

2023 - On March 24, 2023 around 4:57 p.m. an explosion occurred at R.M. Palmer Company's building #2.  Seven people died and ten were injured, including one rescued from rubble. The explosion sent plumes of smoke into the air and shook homes. Investigators are determining the cause, which may be connected to a gas leak.