Reading Terminal Market, the nation’s oldest, continuously operating, indoor farmer’s market, is a culinary delight for tourists and locals alike. Descending from William Penn’s original open air public market idea that lined the main street (leading to the renaming of the street to “Market Street”), the markets eventually reached their peak and capacity, becoming dirty, unhygienic and a traffic hazard. This led to the opening of 2 indoor markets, Farmers’ and Franklin Markets, which would eventually become the foundation of the Reading Terminal Market which officially opened in 1892, as it stands today.
Around the same time, the Industrial Revolution brought the expansion of the railroad, and the new, state-of-the-art Reading Railroad Headhouse Terminal was built over top, providing delivery by rail to towns along the suburbs and into the Jersey shore. For nearly 60 years, the Market flourished until the depression led to the closing of the railroads, but 120 years later, the Reading Terminal Market has made a comeback and is as vital as it was in its early days.
With multiple entrances spanning an entire square city block, Reading Terminal Market is a feast for the senses. Featuring over 80 merchants offering fresh produce, meats, seafood, ice cream, flowers, baked goods, crafts and specialty and ethnic foods, the market is open every day. It is loud, bustling and crowded, but worth the trouble, if you know where to go. Try to stop in during off-peak hours, in the morning or after lunch during the week, to have more time to wander the aisles and explore the stalls. No matter when you go, be sure to visit one of these essential and favorite places to eat at Reading Terminal.
Check out part 2 of the Reading Terminal Market series for must-eat desserts and snacks at the market.