East Bound and Down
From a distance, Reading, Pennsylvania appears to be a small city beautifully tucked into the crevices that form the foothills of the modestly sized Pocono mountains. Actually, Reading is in fact a small city beautifully tucked into the crevices that form the foothills of the modestly sized Pocono mountains. Located in Berks County, roughly halfway between the state’s capital city of Harrisburg, and the country’s 5th largest city in Philadelphia, Reading occupies a stretch of land bounded by the Schuylkill River to the west, Mount Penn to the east, and Neversink Mountain along the south. It is a city with an early history of prominence and virtue, with stakes in the railroad, automotive and heavy industries. It is also a city that fell from grace sharply; experiencing a population decline by the mid-twentieth century that continued for decades. In 2011, a federal investigation listed the city as one of the east coast’s major hubs for gang activity and drugs. A year later, the New York Times called Reading the poorest city in the United States.