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Reading Terminal Market

Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2014

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With over 6 million annual visitors, Reading Terminal Market is one of Philadelphia’s most visited tourist attractions, and one of our favorites at The Constitutional Walking Tour.

The History

The history of Reading Terminal Market dates all the way back to 1860 when the Butcher’s and Farmer’s Market opened for business on the 1100 block of Market Street. The market stayed at the location for 30 years, but by 1890 it looked like the market’s days were numbered.  The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company purchased the land occupied by the market and planned to demolish it to make way for a new railroad terminal. The market was saved however when the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company agreed to build a new market underneath the railroad station.

Reading Terminal Market - The Constitutional Walking Tour

In 1892, the new market opened for business and became known as the Reading Terminal Market. Reading Terminal Market thrived in its new building and billed itself as the main source of food supply to the entire Philadelphia region. Reading Terminal Market remained successful for decades until the market was once again threatened in the 1970s. The Reading Railroad declared bankruptcy in 1971, and some wanted to demolish the deteriorating Reading Railroad Terminal, and the market beneath it in the name of urban renewal.

Supporters were once again however able to save the Reading Terminal Market and it was eventually purchased along with the railroad terminal above it by the newly created Pennsylvania Convention Center in 1990.  Today the Reading Terminal Market is considered America’s oldest continuously operating farmer’s market and thrives once more as a popular destination for Philadelphians and tourists alike. 

What to See

Whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, French linens, homemade Amish pies or the best sandwich in America, the Reading Terminal Market has you covered.  Prepare to be overwhelmed by choices as you stroll through this eclectic marketplace with a unique old world vibrancy and energy that is unlike just about any other place in America.

Reading Terminal Market is perhaps best known for the Amish Merchants who travel into Philadelphia from Lancaster County to sell their products.  Their unique food is prepared from farm fresh ingredients and has been a staple of the market for over a century. 

DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market

Other highlights include Bassetts Ice Cream, America’s oldest ice cream company.  Bassetts was the first merchant to sign a lease at the Reading Terminal Market in 1892 and they’ve been there every year since.   Also be sure to check out DiNic’s, their famous roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich was named the best sandwich in America by the Travel Channel. 

In all, over 30 restaurants, offering up just about every type of food you can imagine are inside Reading Terminal Market and you can’t go wrong with any of them.  And yes, if you’re looking for a Philly cheesesteak, Reading Terminal Market has multiple options for you.

Insider Tips

As you might imagine, any place that sees six million annual visitors can get a bit crowded and the vast majority of those visitors are showing up right around lunch time. Beat the crowds by enjoying a late lunch or early dinner instead.  Also, keep in mind, while the market itself is open on Sunday most of the Amish merchants within the market do not operate on Sundays.  

How to Get There

Here at The Constitutional Walking Tour, we think the city is best seen by foot and the Reading Terminal Market is just about 1,200 footsteps away from the National Constitutional Center, where our tours begin and end.  That translates to an easy 7-10 minute walk down Arch Street from the National Constitution Center at 6th and Arch Streets to the Reading Terminal Market at 12th and Arch Streets.

Reading Terminal Market is also one of the favorite stops for groups to stop at along The Constitutional Bus Tour of Philadelphia.

Reading Terminal Market is also easily reached by public transit as it sits directly above the 11th Street stop on the Market Frankford Subway Line as well as Market East Station (regional rail).

Those planning on driving can find street parking (just remember to pay the parking kiosks) or there are a number of garages in the vicinity of the market.


Mon-Sat: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Sun: 9:00am – 5:00pm
(Note: these hours are subject to change, and you may want to contact Reading Terminal Market to confirm)

Additional Information

Reading Terminal Market 
51 N. 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107


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