Announcing: Neighborhood Guide

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Explore Reading calls itself “a progressive guide to the city of Reading, Pennsylvania.” This means it is a continually-updated project that will work piece-by-piece to build a resource for getting to know our city together. Today we are thrilled to announce the next step in that project: a guide to the neighborhoods of Reading. Thus far, we’ve provided an overview of the city as a whole. Now it’s time to break it down and focus on one neighborhood at a time.

Even though I grew up in Berks County and visited the city often, when I first moved into Reading I had no idea of the unique characteristics that, for example, set the Outlet District apart from the rest of Northeast Reading—or Northeast Reading apart from the rest of the city, for that matter. But after a year and a half of exploring my city and writing about places in different areas, I’ve come to see there is tremendous difference from one neighborhood to the next. Sometimes there’s even tremendous difference from one block to the next.

I’m going to share these differences by periodically posting introductions to particular areas, and intentionally finding businesses, organizations, or other places or stories of interest to write about within each neighborhood. These introductions to each neighborhood will then be linked together in an easy to find page along our top menu.

What’s really exciting about this new project is that by grouping my posts into distinct areas, it forces me to dig deeper and look beyond the places that I would normally see. When I started Explore Reading, I began by writing about the bars and restaurants that I already knew and loved, and by reporting on events that I would have gone to anyway. From there, I visited many new places so I would have new things to write about, but they were all places that I would have eventually checked out whether or not I had this website. Needing new material for Explore Reading just forced me to check them out a little sooner. However, with one or two exceptions, most of these resources are now depleted.

I’ve pretty much covered all the places in Reading that someone in my demographic, with my tastes and interests, would tend to go. This means that if I’m going to keep this thing going and continue to share the best that the city has to offer, I need to keep exploring and further expand my comfort zone. I say “expand” rather than “step outside of,” because the one naturally follows the other. A new experience is only new once. An unfamiliar area can only stay that way for so long. So when I focus on a particular neighborhood that I might not spend much time in now, my eyes will continue to open to places that I have overlooked in the past. That’s what happened for the city as a whole when I first moved in, and the neighborhood guide will take that experience to the next level.

Luckily, I have been making friends with other people moving into the city who want to share in my adventures, as well as lifelong city residents who can act as my guide.

Next week I’ll be posting a reflection on what Easter can mean for our city, so the neighborhood guide will begin the following week with an introduction to Penn’s Common Historic District.

11th and Penn

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