The River Speaks - CODAworx

The River Speaks

Submitted by Ted Clausen

Client: City of Reading

Location: Reading, PA, United States

Completion date: 2001

Artwork budget: $175,000

Project Team

Public Art Agent

City of Reading, Planning Dept

City of Reading

Industry Resource

Becky Alt

ART Research Enterprises


Ted Clausen


Placed at the formal entrance to the City of Reading, this 4 story (42 ft.) tall mirror finish stainless steel sculpture mirrors the shapes and forms of the nearby Schyulkill River. Surrounding the sculpture is a 60 foot diameter circle of engraved stainless steel history markers with interwoven text. Texts include the major as well as everyday historical moments that have coalesced into Reading’s 250 year history.
Quote from the work: (see below for additional)
“Some ground should be laid out for publick use” Wm. Penn, 1648


The site offered a great opportunity for a monumental work. The sculptural form came quickly, the question was how to integrate the stories into the experience of the work. The wall that surrounded the sculpture offered the perfect solution: it was the right height, and allows visitors to walk around the ever changing shapes of the sculpture while they read a broad variety of first person quotes from their town's history.


This monumental work required intense collaborations with a number of entities: The structural engineer, the fabricators (2), the installers (2), city planning and engineering departments.

Additional Information

Additional quotes from the work: “Douglas Bent as he re-rights his tub during the first bathtub race down the Schuylkill” 1888 “Due to the Union Building Associations more people own homes in Reading than in any city in the country” “The church aided runaway slaves by hiding them under the floor boards. The people of Reading and Bethel Church were good to me.” Daughter of slaves 1861 “Footman, one cent; every twenty sheep, twenty cents; every twenty swine, ten cents; horse and rider, six cents” Fees for the first Schuykill bridge, 1820