Inside are seven spectacular halls representing different cultures and styles – each one more dazzling than the last. The building is an architectural tour de force.
Some years ago, a Philadelphia tour guide – who saw me near the Reading Terminal Market – asked if I had ever been inside the Masonic Temple.
When I replied “No,” he said, “You don’t have to go to Europe. You can see everything you want right there.” He wasn’t far wrong.
This stunning building just north of City Hall on Broad Street is like a fantasyland. Impressive on the outside, it is absolutely mind-blowing inside.
If the 123-year-old Reading Terminal Market (RTM) were a boxer, it would have been knocked out in the 1970s.
By 1979, eight years after the Reading Company declared bankruptcy, the once-proud market was stumbling badly. The building was a mess. It was only 20% occupied. And the future looked bleak.
For Bassetts Ice Cream, today’s only remaining original vendor, sales barely totaled $25 some days.
Fortunately – during the 1970s – Philadelphia preservationists staved off efforts by Market East developers to demolish the building. In 1980, after emerging from bankruptcy, the Reading Company began investing in the market again.