In this article I will be talking about the Reading Terminal Market located in center city Philadelphia. Most people in Philly have been to the famous market, either to shop for groceries, get a bite to eat, or even buy a gift. The market has 80 vendors and covers a stunning 1.7 acres. The markets records go as far back as the time of William Penn, but the terminal first opened its doors as a real organized market in 1892. The footage of the terminal then was just about 78,000 feet. It held 800 stalls for merchants to sell their goods. Each stall was about 6 feet long. The terminal was laid out like the streets of Philly,in a grid.
The terminal had a refrigeration building that at its normal amount of products would usually hold 200,000 pounds of meat, 50,000 crates of eggs, and 25,000 barrels of apples. All the food was in a warehouse closed in with just about 10,000 tons of ice. The depression in the 1930’s was a hard hit to the terminal. By the end of the depression, there were only 10 vendors left. After the depression, the market was almost immediately revitalized. Now days, the terminal is up and running and doing very well; 100,000 tourists and Philadelphians pass through the market each week.
Here are some interviews with a few of my favorite vendors:
My first vendor was Bassetts. I met a man named Andy who had worked at Bassets for almost 6 months. He said that a lot of tourists think that their strawberry ice cream is really tomato flavored. Also, he has to explain the flavor Gadzooks which features brownie points, peanut butter brownies, chocolate chunks, and lastly a rich caramel swirl. Andy’s favorite thing about working at the terminal is the people and the atmosphere.
My second vendor was Dinics, which specializes, in delicious sandwiches (which I note I gotta free sandwich from). I met Drew who had worked for Dinics for 3 years. He told me that one time they were cooking 25 pounds of meat over night and the oven got too hot and when they came back the next morning most of the meat had been reduced to jelly. Drew said that is favorite thing about the terminal was the great people.
My third vendor interview was with Martin’s Meats. I met a man named Ben who had worked at Martin’s Meats for 50 years. He said that the vendor’s best sellers were ground sirloin and pork chops.
My fourth vendor was a place called By George. The person I talked to was a guy named Chris. He had worked there for only 6 months, but said he enjoyed it a lot so far. He said that the best selling food item they sold was cheesestakes. He also said his favorite thing about working at the terminal was the people.
My last vendor was a place called Giunta’s Prime Shop. Giuntas sells an assortment of different meats. I met the owner who was a man named Charles. Charles had started the business 6 years ago. Though this business is somewhat new, he has been in the meat business his whole life. He had a funny story about how he had sold a whole chicken to an elderly woman who after she got it he heard her mumble: “this will make a great fillet of fish!” He thought about telling her what it really was but in the end he just let her go. Charles works 7 days a week from 8-6. The best selling product is beef and filet minion.
Well, that concludes my article about the Reading Terminal! I highly recommend it to any one who wants to walk around and have a bite to eat.
Photo courtesy of ccharmon/Flickr