This beautiful bridge forms a gateway and centerpiece for east-west travel in and out of Reading. Constructed in 1913, the bridge is a relatively old surviving example of its kind, and it retains good historic integrity including original ornate concrete railings. The five main spans are open spandrel arches, and the oldest examples in Berks County of this bridge type. The National Bridge Inventory lists 22 approach spans, but 9 of those are closed spandrel arch spans. Given its integrity, age, size, and function as a centerpiece for the city this bridge should receive a high level of preservation priority.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 14 span, 1,336'-long viaduct is composed of 5 ribbed open spandrel arch spans with a 110' clear span and 9 closed spandrel arch approach spans. They have a 48' long clear span. The open spandrel spans have three ribs given the 80' width of the bridge, which is finished with handsome reticulated-pattern balustrades. The bridge was built in 1913, and it is the oldest of the 12 open spandrel arch bridges in the county. Penn Street is Reading's main east-west street, and the bridge is an excellent and complete example of the City Beautiful philosophy. It is historically and technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 4-lane city street and sidewalks over the river and the former right-of-way of the Reading RR on the east (Reading) side. The tracks have been removed, and the old buildings in downtown Reading were removed as part of an urban renewal program. The area has been redeveloped with modern high-rise buildings along the east side. The west end is part of the interchange with US 422.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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