Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reading, PA

I arrived in Reading on Monday afternoon. Apparently Reading is known for two things: outlet shopping and the Pagoda. I decided to check out the Pagoda first.

Approaching it, you cross through an older part of Reading. It's different than most main streets because it's a wider boulevard, and surprisingly bustling. But you can tell it's seen better days. Then, from behind a big bank, emerges the duck out of water:

You take a windy road up the mountain, and when you come around one of the bends, you see this:

I got out and the view was surprisingly spectacular:

Some background info on why Dutch Country is home to an Asian landmark: There was a guy named William Witman who owned a quarry in Reading, and his conscious eventually got the best of him. He realized his business was ruining the mountainside, so he decided to stop the madness and build something beautiful. His inspiration: a postcard from the Philippines. The structure was completed in 1908, and Witman planned for it to be a luxury hotel. But the poor road access foiled that plan, so he sold it to a businessman, who a year later donated it to the city.

Over the years the Pagoda has served as a snack bar, an art gallery, and an office. Back in the "olden days," colored lights on each tier signaled who had won an election or a sporting event. The code was published in the local newspaper. It's open to the public, but only on weekends. I think the outside is probably the best part anyway.

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