No one can miss the astounding icon sitting atop Mount Penn, overlooking the City of Reading. The Pagoda was originally built in 1906 to cover a stone quarry and was intended to be a luxury resort. This was not unusual in the day when there were five more luxury resorts in the hills above Reading. The owner, William A. Witman, Sr. never did get to open his pagoda, but instead sold it to a local business owner, who then sold the pagoda in 1911 to the city of Reading for $1. The beautiful seven-story high building has been cared for by the people of Reading for more than 100 years.
Before the days of radio broadcasting, the Pagoda was used as a signal device to the people of Reading. Morse Code, using white light as a dash and a red light as a dot, was used to direct firemen, promote fundraising campaigns, and even to give the results of sporting events. Today, the pagoda serves as a wonderful, historical landmark of Reading. The Reading Pagoda is the only pagoda in the world with a fireplace and a chimney.
Visitors to the pagoda may climb to the top floor for $1 donation, which is strictly used to help preserve the pagoda. Have a bite to eat at the Pagoda café, which offers local Reading Draft sodas, Berks hot dogs, snacks, and sweets. Sit inside or stand outside on the portico and take in the best view of the entire area. Be sure to check out the gift shop, where you can buy beautiful authentic Chinese kites.
The Pagoda of Reading, anchored to the mountainside with sixteen tons of bolts, contains eighty-seven steps to reach the top. When you visit, make sure to climb the seven stories to the top. Standing 620 feet above the city of Reading, the views are spectacular, the very best at dusk when the lights of the city began to twinkle. If you happen to be in town on Christmas Eve, take note that the pagoda lights will flash at 9 pm to let the children of Reading know that Santa is on his way!