4th of July Through the Decades

1957

West Reading’s Fourth of July celebration yesterday was a double event. Besides celebrating the holiday the citizens and various organizations in the borough joined in a program in observation of the borough’s 50th anniversary. A spectacular feature of the day was the parade which was held in the morning. Shown above is one of the marching groups as the parade moved along Penn Avenue. (Eagle Staff Photo)

1969

Four hundred and fifty-seven children participated in the Fourth of July program sponsored by the city recreation bureau at the City Park bandshell Thursday afternoon. The children, walking to City Park from their respective playgrounds, wore costumes of their own design and carried flags in the patriotic march.

Oakbrook housing, Baer Park and Barbey’s win the top three honors in competition involving number of participants and distance traveled. At the bandshell, appropriate songs were sung and Uncle Sam’s birthday cake was lit. In the left photo, David A. Salvi, dressed as America’s best known symbol, admires the simulated stars and stripes confection, while one playground group, in the right photo, offers an Independence Day songfest.

Below, members of the Brookline playground sport small replicas of Old Glory as they witness the proceedings. -Eagle Photo

1973

As usual, Lancaster Avenue and the New Holland Road intersection was turned into a lake during Tuesday afternoon’s series of thundershowers. Just as regular are these two youngsters who took advantage of the cool water to escape from the humid weather that preceded the deluge. – Eagle Photo

Penn View Motel – West Reading

The Penn View Motel was part of a chain of nine motels called Host Ways Motel. It was built in 1965, and along with the other 8 locations boasted the mid-century modern pyramid. It was located on the block between 2nd and 3rd Streets on Penn Avenue in West Reading. The striking blue pyramid would become a landmark of sorts, and could be easily seen by passing cars on the 422 bypass just down the road.

The chain is no longer in existence, and the only trace left of this chain is found in New Jersey at the Ivory Tower Motor Inn.

Over the years the Penn View became more and more infamous, being widely known for rampant prostitution, crime and drug problems. Quite a few deaths occurred within the walls of it’s motel rooms, mainly from overdoses. In 1990, there was a murder outside the motel over cocaine.

In 1995, Dateline NBC came to the Penn View to follow Berks Sheriff’s Deputies as they delivered warrants in an effort to see how fugitives are brought to justice.

Source

The Penn View was deemed a blight finally taken by eminent domain in 2006, and razed shortly after. It had a few long-term tenants that were relocated.

The motel’s last tenant checked in about 2 a.m. Monday, Alan said. When the man left later that morning, Alan refunded the $55 motel bill and gave him a bottle of champagne.” – 8/22/06 Reading Eagle

Plans for a new hotel were met with some adversity due to community member’s fears it would devolve into the same nefarious activities as the Penn View. A Candlewood Suites was eventually built on the grounds of the old Penn View, and as far as I know has not been an issue for the surrounding community.

The Road to Nowhere

The Road to Nowhere. If you are older than 25 and a native of Berks County you have likely heard the phrase. It was used to refer to a stretch of road that literally went nowhere, until slowly over the course of a few decades was added onto and connected to other major roadways.

Left- original Right– Today (click to enlarge)

It was originally built in 1962 as a small drag strip piece of road, spanning maybe three quarters of a mile between the intersection of Van Reed Rd/Paper Mill Road and north over the Tulpehocken Creek to Blessing Lane. It appears there was a bridge on Paper Mill Road that crossed over the then newly constructed Road to Nowhere. (pictured above). This bridge no longer exists. If you look closely on Google Maps you can see old sections of Van Reed road in the wooded areas parallel to the current Van Reed Road. It appears from the comparison photos that the entire southern end of the original Road to nowhere is now the Paper Mill Road Off-ramp, Turkey Hill and surrounding wooded area.

In 1968 they expanded northward further toward Route 183 and on to Muhlenberg Township, making a connection to 222 north to Allentown.

Until later construction was started, the Road to Nowhere abruptly ended at this white fence. The entire stretch beyond the barrier is what stood virtually unused for many years and acquired the nickname, the Road to Nowhere – Eagle Photos by Edward G. Schneider – July 1968 Reading Eagle
The Road to Nowhere from Rt. 183 south toward where it dead ended around Van Reed Road in 1971
new stretch north in 1968, also an angled view of the mystery Paper Mill Road Bridge

Further work stalled until the 90s. It took until 1999 for the southern dead end of the Road to Nowhere pictured above to be connected eastward over to the Warren Street Bypass/422 interchange. It was around that time the neighboring land that became Broadcasting Square Shopping Center was sold and planned for redevelopment. Then it reached its final form in 2006 as 222 south between 422 and 724 was finished, making it possible to get all the way to Lancaster from Allentown on Route 222.

Easter Egg Hunts through the years

March 28th, 1959 Reading Eagle (click to enlarge)
Easter 1962 – Children yesterday had their day in the city and county as Easter egg hunts were conducted for their benefit. Shown above is the “breaking from the barrier” at Brookline Playground. – Reading Eagle
The scramble for Easter eggs is on as participants in the egg hunt yesterday at Keffer Park Rush across the playground. The hunt was one of seven held on city playgrounds. -Reading Eagle
Meeting the Bunnies – At the annual Easter egg hunt held at Bernharts Dam under the sponsorship of Local 1893, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Scott Kahn of 3310 Fairfield St, Laureldale and Donna Ohlinger of Fleetwood R.D. 3, are joined by Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny as they collect their bag of chocolate candy and prizes. Approximately 700 egg-hunting children attended the festivities. -Reading Eagle.

Classical Record Shop of Reading – 1960

Image & caption below from “Berks Countians; The Wonderful Way We Live”

The Classical Record Shop of Reading has in addition to its large and diversified stock of high fidelity and stereophonic records, the outstanding Pilot stereophonic consoles and components. Mr. William Breitegam, manager, is seen showing a groupo of new recordings to Mrs. Carl L. N. Erdman. These fine selections may be obtained by calling Franklin 6-0785 or stopping in at the Classical Record Shop, 538 Court Street.

538 Court Street, today