Stairway to the Reading Pagoda

2013-08-16
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On August 12, 1932 dedication services were held for the completion of a stairway to the Pagoda. The dedication address was delivered by the former Mayor John K. Stauffer. Other speakers were Councilman George M. Yocom and Superintendent of Recreation Thomas W. Lantz. The rustic stairway was located on the western slope of Mt. Penn, approximately in-line with Washington Street, on land donated to the city by the former Mayor, who suggested a "Washington Memorial Stairway," with hillstone steps in "monumental design,” and masses of vines and shrubbery, so as not to create a “gash” on the mountain.

Pagoda Stairway approximately in-line with Washington Street

The stairway enabled pedestrians to reach the Pagoda quickly (about 10 minutes) and safely, without getting in the path of fast-moving automobiles on the Mt. Penn park boulevard system leading to the Pagoda. From Thirteenth and Walnut streets, the path led eastward to Duryea Drive (originally named Skyline Boulevard). From the boulevard the path turned sharply to the right to a widened and smoothed trail. Half way up the mountain the stairway began, with seven-foot long treads of chestnut timber collected from trees cut in clearing the way for the Skyline Boulevard which was being constructed at the time. The treads were leveled and fastened in place by iron pipe stems, several feet long to ensure level steps and safe walking. At the top of the main flight several ramps were installed leading directly to the concrete stairway at the base of the Pagoda in the newly constructed rock garden just below the Pagoda.

No appropriation was asked from city funds, but a plan of public subscription was suggested. All the work was done by men selected from the unemployed ranks, and the only expense to the city was in purchasing the pipe-stems used to level the steps. The stairway was completed in scarcely more than a week’s time.

Entrance to Duryea Drive or Mt. Penn Blvd, near current intersection of Hill Road and Clymer Street

Rock Garden at the base of the Reading Pagoda

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