The Philadelphia Auto Show and History of the Reading Railroad

The Philadelphia Auto Show

I know this isn’t South Jersey, but as South Jerseyans we do like to go on an adventure and travel over the bridge from time to time. After all, Philadelphia culture has helped to shape our history. Some of you may have gone this year…

The Philadelphia Auto Show is a tradition. As David P. Gardner, former president of the University of California states, “We learn simply by the exposure of living and which we learn most natively, is the tradition in which we live. ”


(1893 Reading Terminal photo)

The Philadelphia Convention Center is located at 1101 Arch Street. In the 1980s a political pow-wow got together and started on the planning of a new and modern convention center. The Civic Center was old and aging and many events were being swayed from booking at the facility. There was a demand for newer venues such as the Philadelphia Spectrum. They decided to design a new state of the art convention center at the old Reading Railroad Building Terminal.


(Construction of the Reading Railroad)

The Reading Railroad or Reading Company was one of the most thriving companies in America. It was one of the first railroad systems constructed in the United States.

In 1833, The Reading’s origins were to transport anthracite coal. Anthracite is a compact and hard coal that has a high carbon content which means it could burn longer. The original ninety-four mile long line delivered coal to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In 1834, the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad as part of the “Main Line of Public Works” opened. it consisted of 395 miles of inclined planes, rails and canals stretching through the heart of Pennsylvania. I always wanted to know how the Main Line area in Pennsylvania received its name, btw!

In 1838, South Jersey received its railway of the Camden & Woodbury Railroad & Transportation Company. The rail line ran between Camden and Woodbury with a sexy locomotive called, Fire Fly and it’s car, Woodbury. This helped spur tremendous growth in South Jersey!


(Pennsylvania Rail Road Bridge postcard in Delanco, New Jersey)


(Reading Terminal in Camden, New Jersey)

Other rail lines eventually were added (and only naming those around the Delaware Valley since it is enormous. ) The Atlantic Railroad, Chester & Delaware River, Philadelphia & Reading, Philadelphia & Frankfurt… and a gazillion other lines, but I think you get the general point.

The Reading Railroad Company also made iron, built canals and shipbuilding. The Reading Railroad was renowned for their locomotive building and repair. The company was the frontier of technological advancement in railroad technology. It fueled the Industrial Revolution which lasted until around 1840.

In 1844, the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad became the first line in America to carry a million tons of freight in a year.

The Pennsylvania Railroad in the mid-1800s expanded their rail system throughout New England, Canada, Mid-West and West. Unfortunately, a lot of “robber barons” as they were called like Carnegie and Vanderbuilt put a stop to the expansion efforts. They Pennsylvania railroad then started back to its roots of transporting coal.

In an effort to not become a monopoly, the Pennsylvania Railroad board members creating a separate entity in 1890.

((1890s advertisement)

It continued to thrive until shortly after World War II as America was no longer using coal. Most people were transitioning to gas and electricity and thus hurt the Pennsylvania Railroad’s bottom-line. Competing lines also attributed to their decline. By 1976, the Reading Railroad went bankrupt and operations were taken over by CONRAIL which is a joint company of the CSX and NS companies.

By the 1980s, the abandoned and defunct terminal location was already being looked at for the new location of Philadelphia’s Convention Center.

When the politicians and business leaders met, they decided that the defunct Reading Railroad Terminal was the best place and location virtually in the heart of the city. It would allow for large square footage and also would be able to utilize the old railway for easy public transportation access.

(A sparkly Buick at the 2013 Philadelphia Auto Show)

(This year a few test tracks in the Philadelphia Convention Center)

The Convention Center opened in 1993 with a 700,000,000 expansion in December 2006 and completed in March 2011. It has a total saleable space of 1,000,000 square feet.

The Philadelphia Auto Show has showcased the latest and greatest consecutively from the Convention Center’s beginning. It is a great place to get out of the house on a cold and wintry day to see some shiny new automobiles. And of course my favorites… The vintage collections. They always make Yummygal’s South Jersey heart skip a beat!

(A 1955 Flajole Forerunner and yes, I know my cars)



My minions at the 2018 auto show.

Sooooo will I see you in 2019? I guess we’ll have to find out, wont we?

Until our next adventure, my friends! -The Yummygal

4 thoughts on “The Philadelphia Auto Show and History of the Reading Railroad

  1. Love your interesting and beautiful Posts (especially ) the two adorable redheads ,Yummygal) Please keep up this excellent info of South Jersey Where i was born….west jersey hospital 1935..or any other bit of New Jersey …then and now….

  2. Does anyone ever remember a place in Camden N.J. known as LIMEY DITCH or LINEY Ditch Limie Linie???
    My spouse of 65 years says that he and his boyhood friends did venture there…My parents warned me …never to go there… Didnt tell me why Dorothy in Florida

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