Sights of North Side Penn Street in the 1940s

Penn Street – North Side – 400 Block….1940s…Reading: We look to the Northeast corner to the landmark Saylor food business stand. In the foreground is car 809 as it appeared in 1947, end-of-the-line year for city trolleys. Looking to the background is an imposing grey-stone structure built as Reading Girls’ High School. At this juncture, it was Reading’s “special school” for students with learning problems.

North Side Penn Street 1940s

Off to the right is a large old building that years ago was the Roosevelt Hotel. At the time this picture was taken – on Oct. 13th, 1946 – its lower level contained two retail stores, one of which was the Charles Store, which soon afterwards moved across the street to the building occupied by Sears & Roebuck prior to their relocation to Lancaster Avenue in Shillington.

North Side Penn Street 1940s

Looking to the North Side of Penn Street, Warner Theatre – 755 Penn – 1940s – Courthouse in Background, Reading: Most prominent in this view is the imposing sign for the Embassy. Between the Embassy and northwest corner of 8th and Penn was the Warner, a relatively simple theatre with aisles on the left and right sides of the auditorium. Originally, when the theatre-site was developed as the Hippodrome, Reading’s premiere vaudeville house, the auditorium and stage were huge. The west end, perpendicular to Penn, was cut by 2/3 – for storeroom creation – and what was left became the State Theatre, a venue largely characterized by the showing of cowboy films. Indeed, Roy Rogers made a personal visit in Dec. 1938. In 1941, Warner Brothers leased the theater and proceeded to make major renovations; a new marquee, box office, lobby, restrooms, and a smoking room! The theatre, with seating for 1,228, opened Apr. 12, 1941. Like the Astor, the Plaza, and other theatres experiencing dwindling audiences and revenue, latter-day fare increasingly included R-rated films. On March 14, 1963, the Warner closed and was removed to make way for the projected Penn Street Mall, an ill-fated venture if there ever was one! -Photo Courtesy of Joseph DeAngelo

All images and copy from the Passing Scene

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.

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