Home / Local Stories  / Buzz: Community News  / Step Back in Time for Reading Terminal Market’s 125th Birthday Party

Step Back in Time for Reading Terminal Market’s 125th Birthday Party

You can party like it's 1893 on Thursday.

When Philly’s incredible Reading Terminal Market opened 125 years ago, it was never given a formal grand opening. On Thursday, February 22, all that will be rectified, as 1893 Day will transport visitors back to the day Reading Terminal Market opened for a daylong celebration of the market’s history and importance in our city.


You can expect live entertainment, old-timey costumes, and lots more fun as Reading Terminal Market parties like it’s 1893!


“The Market has withstood more than a century of transition in Center City, and today remains a vital piece of Philadelphia’s civic fabric and the most visited site in the region. It is an important source of fresh food for Philadelphians and an authentic showcase of our city for national and international visitors,” said Anuj Gupta, General Manager of Reading Terminal Market.


In recognition of the market’s milestone anniversary, Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Jim Kenney, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, and City Councilman Mark Squilla will begin the celebration with proclamations from the state and the city, as well as a ribbon cutting at 11 am.


The morning’s speaking program will also include a display of birthday cakes commissioned from each of the market’s bakery merchants.


All day, you can come to join in the fun, which will include live musical street performances from a brass band, a barber shop quartet, and an organ grinder on Filbert Street. To add to the Victorian-era revelry, there will be those tall penny-farthing bike-riders, a stilt walker, vintage photos, and actors in period costumes around the market.


And to top it all off, some lucky shoppers will be randomly chosen to get “1893 pricing.” Merchants will ring a bell and drop the price of a signature item back to what they would have been in the year the market opened. (To give you some reference, milk cost 15 cents back then, so just think of the possibilities!)


That night — in a nod to modern times — the PECO Crown Lights will be used to shine a “Happy Birthday” message to Reading Terminal Market atop the skyline.


The birthday event is part of a year-long celebration of the Market’s 125th anniversary.  This year, the market will also host an entertainment series featuring live performances by artists representing music from each of the past 12 decades, a speaker series, and other festivals celebrating the market’s history (such as Diamond Day this Spring, which will boast multicultural entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and giveaways).


Keep an eye on our website for updates about these upcoming events. We’ll see you at the Market!


Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer