Reading Terminal Market

On a perfect Fall day in Philadelphia, I decided to spend it by shopping and treating myself at Reading Terminal Market, which is by far my favorite place in this city to frequent. Each time I visit this market that stretches the length and width of an entire city block, I find new foods that I want to try. The historical Reading Terminal Market offers visitors over 80 merchants with products like farm fresh produce, meats, poultry, fish, seafood, desserts, ethnic foods and more.

Reading Terminal Market's history goes all the way back to the late 17th century when the city of Philadelphia was developed by William Penn. At the start of developing the city, one of the first orders of business was creating a marketplace for the farmers and fishermen trying to sell their goods. The location chosen was close to the Delaware River since most of the merchants were coming from across the river in New Jersey, hence the name that developed, Jersey Market. As Philadelphia grew, its market grew as well, continuing from the river westward into the city. By the mid-nineteenth century, this stretch became Market Street, which remains the center of our city today.

Because of the size of the outdoor market, the city's planners grew concerned about sanitation and health issues, therefore ordering the market to move indoors. In 1859, two indoor markets were established, The Farmer's Market and The Franklin Market, which are the roots of the present day market. In 1892, following the Industrial Revolution, the Reading Railroad expanded by building a terminal housing both the train terminal and market place, a 78,000 square foot space with 800 six-foot stall spaces for merchants. The stalls were set up as a grid like the streets of Philadelphia with twelve aisles and four avenues making it easy for shipments coming in and shoppers alike. One of the biggest draws for merchants would be the new refrigeration system in the basement boasting 52 separate rooms with different temperatures for different products.

The successful market place went the extra mile literally by allowing for families to place orders with the market to be delivered to their local train station-a market basket service. Following World War I, refrigerated trucks hit the roads improving the market's delivery services. The market managed well enough during the Depression and World War II. However, the railroad's financial issues eventually caused the close of the refrigeration system in the 1960's. With bankruptcy for the railroad in 1971, the marketplace fell behind. Once the railroad turned into a real estate business, it gave the Reading Company renewed interest in their best real estate, Reading Terminal Market. But it wasn't until the early 1990's that any real rehabilitation of the market began, which finally resulted in the well-kept, vibrant market place that it is today.

Entering the doors of Reading Terminal Market on 13th Street, I immediately had my eyes on Old City Coffee. To enhance my walk around the market, I opted for a cup of coffee to keep me vitalized. Old City Coffee boasts 100% Arabica Coffee roasted on site and ground to order plus an espresso bar, baked goods, and coffee and tea gift baskets. Everyone likes to start with dessert which is exactly why my market tour began by passing The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company featuring enormous, delicious cookies varying from Chocolate Chip with Walnuts and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut to Butter Almond and Chocolate Pecan. The smell is intoxicating and sweet making it close to impossible to resist stopping for one of these delectable treats. Right around the corner, Termini Brothers holds their own as the Italian bakery of the market, a bakery that has successfully existed in their first location in South Philadelphia since 1928. The Termini's star item has to be the Cannoli, perfectly baked shells filled to order. Flawless cakes, pastries, and Italian cookies line the glass cases in front of Termini Brothers as well. Other Reading Terminal Market bakeries include The Flying Monkey specializing in playful handcrafted sweets, Le Bus Bakery and The Metropolitan Bakery both offering a selection of fresh baked breads and pastries daily. Finally, Beiler's Bakery sells beautiful homemade goods from the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish, like sticky buns, cakes, pies, donuts, bread, rolls and more. Beiler's Bakery, located on the opposite end of the market from the cookie company, brings its own appetite-inducing aroma.

The Pennsylvania Dutch offer much more at the market including The Dutch Eating Place, a sit-and-eat counter serving lunch, dinner and the best sloppy Joe I ever had plus their famous blueberry pancakes, egg sandwiches and apple dumplings. A long line always spills from Th
e Rib Stand featuring baby-back ribs and rib sandwiches. The Hatville Deli attracts many with their overstuffed fresh deli meat sandwiches. A new spot offered by the Pennsylvania Dutch is Miller's Twist, which specializes in hand rolled soft pretzels, made fresh daily as well as Lancaster County ice cream.

Speaking of ice cream, the star that rises above all is Bassett's Ice Cream, America's oldest creamery since 1861. Bassett's churns their creams fresh on the premises at Reading Terminal Market daily and have been since 1893. While in the dairy category, a wide variety of cheeses are available at Downtown Cheese offering farm domestic and imported cheeses as well as olives, olive oils, and vinegars. Salumeria, a deli and grocery, keeps it Italian with a wide selection of imported cheeses, Italian meats, hoagies and salads. Your choice of delis or sandwich spots continues with The Original Turkey and Hershel's East Side Deli. Cheese steak cravings? Then check out Carmen's Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheese Steaks, By George!, or Spataro's Cheese Steaks.

Most ethnic cuisines are cov
ered with 12th Street Cantina (Mexican), Nanee's Kitchen (Indian) and Profi's Creperie (French). I can get my fill of Southern cuisine at the newly opened Beck's Cajun Cafe or Delilah's at the Terminal serving Delilah's famous macaroni and cheese, reason enough to get to the market. Middle Eastern cuisine is represented with Kamal's Middle Eastern Specialties and Olympic Gyro. For Asian food lovers, The Golden Bowl (Chinese), Little Thai Market, and Tokyo Sushi Bar are just some of the Asian cuisine offerings available. Pearl Oyster Bar provides customers with boiled or fried seafood platters. If you have hankering for a hot dog, then no worries because Franks-A-Lot will cover any hot dog, Polish or German sausage needs you may have. Vegetarians can find happiness at the market as well with The Basic 4 Vegetarian Bar. Specialty merchants within the market include Bee Natural, selling every kind of honey and beeswax candles, and The Spice Terminal, your one-stop affordable shop for every kind of spice imaginable.

Reading Terminal Market is a must-see spot for tourists an
d should be a regular spot for locals as it gives the customer endless product options and a festive, exciting atmosphere. Go to the Reading Terminal Market today, try something new or stick to your favorites, and be a part of this Philadelphia tradition.

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