A Jim of All Trades

The Reading Pagoda

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Last weekend my wife and I went to The Reading Pagoda, here is some information and a few pictures from our visit.

The Pagoda is located in Reading, Pennsylvania, which admittedly isn’t the first place one would expect to find a Pagoda.  It has a very interesting history and I’d encourage you to look around its website for details, but I’ll share a few bits about it here (all info taken/paraphrased from the website):

  • It was commissioned in 1906 and completed in 1908 with the original intention of being used as a luxury resort. It was never opened, changed hands, and eventually in 1911 was “sold” to the city of Reading for $1.
  • It sits on top of a mountain, is 7 stories high and stands over 600 feet above the city of Reading.
  • It is the only Pagoda in the world with a fireplace and chimney.
  • The bell on the 7th floor was cast in Japan in 1739.
  • Before the days of radio broadcasting, its lights flashed as signals to the people of Reading. Morse Code was used to direct fireman, promote fundraising campaigns and give the public results of sporting events. The Code was based on the lights – a white light was a dash, while a red light was a dot.
  • Every year at 9pm on Christmas Eve the Pagoda lights flash to let the children know that Santa is on his way.

Pretty neat, huh?

It was a hot and hazy day when we went, which made photographing a challenge for me. The location does provide some nice views though and there are a lot of neat things to see in and around the Pagoda. Driving to the Pagoda is pretty cool too. As you enter Reading you catch glimpses of it on the mountain side above overlooking the city. I unfortunately didn’t stop to get a picture. The road leading to it is pretty steep with some fun corners and sweeps. Twice per year it is actually shut down and a “hill climb” is held there – a timed race to the top done in cars. (Hopefully I’ll make it to one sometime!) Anyway, back to the Pagoda!






There was a system of stairs and some walking trails in an area that apparently used to be a rock garden, but it has not been maintained and is now closed to the public. There were a few accessible walking trails to elsewhere on the mountain though, and there were signs that people still venture into the “off limits area.”



Inside on the ground floor there is a gift shop and cafe. There were many neat things to see and a lot of little knickknacks for sale and reasonably priced beverages and snacks.





Admission is technically free but they do ask for a $1 donation to go to the top floor for adults, or fifty cents for children.


The bell at the top:


The top floor provides quite a view of the city of Reading and the surrounding area.



A compass below, in what I think used to be the rock garden:


There were also rooms on various floors inside the Pagoda. I believe one can be rented as a conference room, and there was a “museum” with various pieces of memorabilia from its history (where the gold bowl above was located).

All in all it was pretty neat and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area and have an afternoon to kill. I don’t think my wife and I spent more than 1.5 hours there, which included eating some ice cream in the cafe. There isn’t a lot to do there, really, it just depends on how much time you want to spend exploring the grounds and looking at the things inside the Pagoda. It’s cheap, too. Not counting the gas to drive there, I spent a grand total of $4 for donations to go to the top and ice cream sandwiches for the missus and I!

On the way home we passed a park with a number of monuments and statues and decided to stop quickly to look around. The park is called Penns Common and had a large area dedicated for memorials for veterans, and a number of other statues of figures who, I presume, hold significance to the area’s history. I didn’t do well shooting pictures at the park and sadly have few to share…





Written by Jim

July 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm

One Response

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  1. That bell is awesome! Also, Reading is adorable. Like a jigsaw puzzle picture :) Thanks for sharing your photos! My favorite is the second shot… it really shows the scale and landscape. Beautiful.

    This makes me want Asian food :)


    July 26, 2013 at 10:38 am


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