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.

100 Block Penn Ave
View from the road; looking toward West Reading, before the bypass 1950s
100 Block Penn Ave
An aerial shot from 1929
Before – 1950s 100 Block Penn Ave
Today 100 Block Penn Ave

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

5 Replies to “100 block Penn Ave: Before the Bypass”

  1. That Gulf gas station was where my grandfather worked.. not sure if he ran it or just worked there. And it would have been in 50’s and earlier. Thanks for picture!

  2. I was born and raised in West Reading and we used to walk past this area all the time. I remember 3 gas stations, a company that made grass shears, a heating oil company, furniture store, post office, V.F.W club, Browns Diner. I’m sure there were others that I missed. West Reading lost a lot of taxable properties for that highway.

  3. Awesome shots
    The prior was before my time so it was neat to see what the area looked like. Keep these awesome pieces of history coming!

  4. That is Leinbach’s Hill behind the Gulf Station (first photo). Brown’s Diner/Restaurant was just out of the photo to the left.

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