Reading, Massachusetts

Reading (pronounced like RED-ing) is an affluent town situated in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, some 10 miles north of central Boston. Many of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s original settlers arrived from England in the 1630s through the ports of Lynn and Salem. In 1639, some citizens of Lynn petitioned the government of the colony for a “place for an inland plantation.” This led eventually (in 1644) to the settlement incorporated as the town of Reading, taking its name from the town of Reading in England.

Reading played an active role in the American Revolutionary War, prominently involved in the engagements pursuing the retreating British after the battles of Lexington and Concord. During the first half of the 19th century, Reading became a manufacturing town. A furniture factory, clock factory and organ pipe factory were major businesses. By the mid-19th century, Reading had 13 establishments that manufactured chairs and cabinets. The making of shoes began as a cottage industry and expanded to large factories.

During the Civil War, men from South Reading fought at the First Battle of Bull Run. A second company was formed as part of the Army of the Potomac and a third company joined General Bank’s expedition in Louisiana. In the 20th century, Reading became a residential community with commuter service to Boston on the Boston and Maine Railroad and the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway.

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