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8.04.2019

Reading Terminal Market: Philly's World Class Market

Reading Terminal Market serves as the cultural heart of the city of Philadelphia. The diversity of Philly is on display here, with food offerings from most of the cultures that call the city home. For an insight into vintage Philadelphia, and today's city, look no further than visiting this incredible place.
A view of the old Reading Terminal Station
Dating back to 1893, this market was created after moves were made to move outdoor markets into indoor spaces due to perceived sanitary and nuisance reasons. High Street, which now is known as Market Street, had vendors that covered a six block stretch of the city. These markets were disbanded by the city government in 1859 when the city decreed that markets must be held indoors.

The two markets, the Franklin and the Farmers' Markets, which are the roots of Reading Terminal Market, began at this point. When the Reading Railroad was working to expand its footprint in Center City Philadelphia, these two markets stood in the way of their plans. They came to a compromise and the Reading Railroad agreed to purchase them and build brand new facility with the construction of their new train station. The Reading Railroad carried fresh produce and goods from out of town, making this the hub for the freshest food that the city of Philadelphia had to offer.

The lower level of this facility included a state-of-the-art refrigeration system that kept meats and vegetables at ideal temperatures, something that was a novelty in 1893, extending the shelf life, freshness, and overall sanitary conditions of the food products. This was a huge breakthrough in this time period where urban areas often fell victim to severe disease outbreaks. Additionally, this allowed vendors to keep seasonal crops on a year round basis. Additionally, the refrigeration system at the market allowed for more exotic foods from far away places to be able to be sold there. The market floor was built at street level and featured additional recent breakthroughs with the addition of electric lighting.

The market also did remote ordering, with anyone in the region being able to call in and have their orders from the market delivered directly to their local Reading Railroad or Pennsylvania Railroad station. This was a huge breakthrough as the suburbs grew as the railroads and streetcars expanded the reach of the metropolitan area.

While this picture is not from the market itself, it is from the Reading Terminal Complex. It is a view of the only remaining arched and single-span train shed in the country, and the oldest one in the world. It is now a part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 
In the tough times of the Great Depression and World War II, Reading Terminal Market actually flourished. Far away vendors clamored to sell at the market because of the concentration of the market and higher prices. Food rationing during World War II brought people in droves to wait in line at the market for their food allotments. The contraction of the railroads in the 60s and 70s nearly brought the market to the brink as foot traffic from the train station dwindled.
 A view of the old train station building, with the Hard Rock Cafe occupying the corner of the building, and some of the many other buildings that occupy Center City.
A street performer by the main entrance to Reading Terminal Market.
Cannolis getting filled at Termini Brothers Bakery
The market ended up persevering and its rejuvenated popularity has staked the market's presence as one of the city's premier attractions and public spaces, making this not only a place to purchase food, but a gathering place that brings together the diverse community. Craft and artisanal foods from people of all walks of life are sold at this beautiful place. It is easy to get swept away by the beauty of this and it gives an absolutely awesome picture of the kind of place that Philadelphia is.
 Philbert the Pig, the mascot of Reading Terminal Market. It is used as a "piggy bank" for donations to help fight food insecurity in the Philadelphia region.
There are so many great luncheonettes scattered around the complex. This is poached eggs over scrapple from the Down Home Diner, coupled with a fantastic smoothie from the Four Seasons Juice Bar.

The best way to describe Reading Terminal Market is that it is simply perfect. If you are looking for a great and affordable meal, this is the place to go. If you are looking to cook a meal with the freshest ingredients possible, this is the place to go. For a wonderful view into the culture of Philadelphia, Reading Terminal Market is the place to go. You are greeted with surprises around every corner, with delicious smelling food from many different ethnic groups. This is one of the premier indoor markets and it is located right on the edge of Center City and Chinatown in Philadelphia. This flourishing place is incredible and well worth visiting. 

For more information on this wonderful institution, check out their website at https://readingterminalmarket.org

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