Penn’s Common is one of four historic districts maintained by the city of Reading. The goal of these districts is the preserve the distinct look of a particular neighborhood that is filled with unique and historic architecture. A quick walk around this area, which sits at the top of Penn Street, shows why it was included.
The exact boundaries of the Penn’s Common Historic District can be found here, but it’s simple enough to say it’s the neighborhood surrounding City Park, whose entrance is at the intersection of Penn, Perkiomen, and 11th Streets. This park was originally a bit larger (about 85 acres) and went by the name of Penn’s Common, because it was a gift from the Penn family in 1748 to be held in common by the citizens of Reading (in other words, as a public park). The history of this park is rich, and can be found in detail here, including the site of a water works, county prison, fairgrounds, and finally restored public park including the construction of the bandstand.
I talked to a man who lives in this neighborhood on the 1100 block of Franklin Street, and he loves it. He said the area is active and friendly, and he added with a laugh that two nosy neighbors across the street function as an unofficial crime watch.
The summer Bandshell concerts are one of the major draws to Penn’s Common today, but the park also includes a large number of interesting monuments and memorials. Outside the park in the rest of this historic district one will find several interesting shops and restaurants, and of course many beautiful homes. Enjoy my photo tour of the neighborhood below, and look for features on places to visit in the coming weeks.