Looking Back, Facing Forward

Involving over one hundred youth from throughout the city of Reading, this mural taught the  young painters about the history of Reading's waterfront in the era of canals.  The project culminated in an historic display for the community on a remnant of that era.


Reading Area Community College Campus

(mural is on the Guard Lock Bridge near the Yocum Library)
Riverfront Drive 

Reading, PA 19602

Project Support


Olivet Boys and Girls Club

Reading Area Community College

Mural Design:

Ed Terrell

Michael L. Miller



Olivet Boys and Girls Club

Margery Grandstrom, coordinator 

Project Historian:

George M. Meiser IX

Project completion


View multiple images of the project's creation above.

About the Project

Before the city of Reading was known for railroads, canals were the super highways of the time.  This project set out to work with local historian George Meiser in choosing several iconic photos of Reading's canal history and paint them together with youth from the Olivet Boys and Girls Club.  All the students who helped paint the mural were invited to pose for photo that expressed them showing their work to the community.  Six of these photos were selected to be featured in the final work.  The paintings were fabricated at Olivet sites throughout the city and the finished paintings were installed on the Guardlock Bridge, a landmark that shows where the canal had once entered the city. 

The Power of Anti-Grafitti Coatings

After 18 years, this mural was in need of some restoration.  When the project was originally designed, the decision to paint the mural on both sides of the bridge seemed very optimistic, as the side that faces the river is in a very secluded spot.  While this side of the mural did suffer a little vandalism over the years (the other side has never been touched), to think that this is all that occured after 18 years is a success.  The collaborative process is the best form of grafitti-proofing.

"As I was working on the restoration one hot afternoon, some neighborhood youth stopped by as they headed to the river to swim.  When I explained that the mural was over 18 years old, they exclaimed...that's older than us!"  

View multiple images of the project's restoration above.