1739 Thomas Penn chooses the site for Reading, at the base of Mt. Penn and Neversink Mountain. Known as Finney’s Ford, a log cabin stood alone in the wilderness. Widow Finney’s cabin still stands today at the corner of 4th and Cherry.
1748 Reading is officially established. Conrad Weiser, frontiersman, peacemaker and entrepreneur, builds a Trading Post at what is now 5th and Penn St.
1776 Reading is the center for storing ammunition, guns and cannons needed in the fight for independence. Hundreds of forges and furnaces were built in Berks County, establishing Berks as a leader in Iron production and iron products such as stoves, tools, nails and weapons.

1792 The creation of the canal system on the Schuylkill River and the Tulpehocken Creek opens up an economical route for coal and goods from Reading to the Philadelphia markets.
1833 The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad is created and grows into the largest company in the world. Reading leads the way in transportation technology, building the first rail system for the steam locomotive. Hauling Coal and goods from Berks to Philadelphia spawns numerous businesses.
The Turn of the Century. Reading enters the Gilded Age as a mighty industrial and economic giant.  Trains , textiles, hats, gloves, hardware and paints, breweries and tobacco companies make up a diverse economy. Captains of industry build grand Mansions overlooking the city (today’s Center Park Historic District.) The Trexler Mansion, on the corner of 5th and Franklin, was built in 1869 by Horatio Trexler, owner of District Forge. These architectural treasures remind us of the heady days of the turn of the century. Reading enjoys a diverse and growing immigrant community supported by hundreds of small companies alongside the massive iron works, textile mills and train builders.

1906 The Textile Machine Works experiment, founded by Henry Janssen and Ferdinand Thun, creates the world’s largest knitting mill. These factory buildings would become the VF Outlets and Reading claims the title “the Outlet Capital of the World” some 70 years later.

1911 Solomon Boscov founds a Dry Goods and Shoe Store in Reading. Boscov’s Department store becomes one of the most successful family owned department stores under the leadership of his son and CEO, Albert Boscov. Today it remains one of the few privately held, family owned retailers in the country and Al Boscov is leading the way in Reading’s Revitalization efforts.
The mid 20th century finds a thriving and prosperous City of Reading. It’s a vibrant and lively cultural center that boasts a Symphony Orchestra, a first class museum and planetarium and a center city shopping district with the most fashionable regional Department Stores. Sophisticated electronics at Bell Labs, diverse manufacturers, candy makers and Financial Services make up Reading’s business base and prosperity abounds.

1975 Arrow International is founded as a knitting needle/medical device manufacturer.   Medical Device manufacturing has become an important vibrant and growing economic sector in Greater Reading.

2000 - Present    Reading enters the 21st Century.  Revitalization efforts are transforming downtown Reading as years of planning is finally coming to fruition in a thriving Arts District.  Entertainment Square will be a magnet for cafes and eateries, shops and venues. Agriculture and food processing remains one of the most important industries in the Greater Reading Area.  A new Farmer’s Market opened at 8th and Penn brings local, fresh produce back into the city.  Specialty steel manufacturer Carpenter Technology, founded by James Carpenter in 1896, is still a major employer in Reading. East Penn Manufacturing is on the cutting edge of energy storage technology, employing thousands in the Greater Reading Area. Business services, medical device makers and healthcare companies are also central to the economy in the Greater Reading today