Socialist Park in Sinking Spring

Socialist Park, now known as Willow Glen Park, was created in 1929, under socialist Reading Mayor, J. Henry Stump. In it’s heyday, it boasted a dance hall, and a roller-skating rink.¬† Today, the park hosts large local events, including the Apple Dumpling Festival in June, Berks Celtic Fest in July, and Shocktoberfest, a halloween scare attraction September through October.

Socialist Park Sinking Spring
Picture Courtesy of the Passing Scene

Birch Wilson at the Dance Hall at Socialist Park…aka Keller’s Park and Willow Glen Park…West end of Sinking Spring…South Side of Route 422 West and Park Avenue…on the border of Sinking Spring Borough and Spring Township:
The Depression that followed J. Henry Stump’s first term as Reading’s mayor, beginning in 1928, gave the party the boost that it was enjoying as it acquired the park in 1929; the momentum kept the movement going into the 1930s. Except for Stump, the last of the Socialists went out of local office in 1940, numerically lost the privilege of automatic inclusion on Berks County ballots in 1952, regained it and then lost it again in the mid-1950s. Now, Wilson guesses, the local party membership is again back down to around 50.
– Photo taken in 1963 by Walter A. Romanski, couresty of Ronald B. Romanski.

100 block Penn Ave: Before the Bypass

We all have driven on route 422…the stretch of highway that runs past Reading and along the¬†Schuylkill River down to Pottstown. This stretch of road did not always exist. In fact it wasn’t until the 1960s that US 422 in the Reading area was rerouted from surface streets through downtown Reading onto bypasses built south of the city. The former routing of US 422 through the city became US 422 Business. Prior to this, there was a section of buildings and businesses along the first block of Penn Ave right before the Penn Street Bridge. They were ultimately taken and torn down, to accommodate the building of the clover leaf ramp system for the new 422. Below are a few images of the area before the highway was built.

 

View from the road; looking toward West Reading, before the bypass 1950s
An aerial shot from 1929
Before – 1950s
Today