Located at the headwaters of the Mystic, Ipswich, and Saugus rivers, Reading developed an impressive industrial base before becoming a residential suburb of Greater Boston in the mid-twentieth century. English settlers from Lynn arrived in 1639, but they did not raise the first meetinghouse until 1769. Population growth remained modest, although the construction of the Andover Turnpike (1806) and the arrival of the Boston & Maine Railroad (1845) produced spikes. Shoemaking emerged as an industry in 1758, setting a pattern for the following century. After the arrival of the railroad, cabinetmaking and clock making prospered, as well as manufacturers of hats, neckties, organ pipes, rubberized fabrics, and wire hairbrushes. Reading remained a secondary industrial center until the construction of Route 128 along the southern border of the town in the 1950s opened the community to more intense residential development.
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