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West Philly

West Philadelphia, nicknamed West Philly has no official definition of its boundaries, it is generally considered to reach from the western shore of the Schuylkill River, to City Line Avenue to the northwest, Cobbs Creek to the southwest, and the SEPTA Media/Elwyn Line to the south.

In recent years, parts of West Philadelphia have undergone "Penntrification," a term that reflects the University of Pennsylvania's role in gentrification of the neighborhood; including a campaign to rename part of the area University City (the designation now appears on maps as well as public street signs and government listings). Many young professionals and families have moved into the area.

Most of the houses in West Philadelphia are rowhouses, although there are areas of semi-detached and detached houses. The earliest developments began in 1850 and the final period of mass construction ended in 1930.

The Woodlands Cemetery, which is located near the west bank of the Schuylkill River, was originally the estate of Andrew Hamilton who bought the property in 1735. In 1840, the property was transformed into a cemetery with an arboretum of over 1,000 trees. It holds the graves of many famous Philadelphians.

WestPhillyNews.org  West Philly News - Local news and information. Home of the West Philly Forum, a community bulletin board (CBB).
WestPhillyLocal.com  West Philly Local - A local, independent website that covers West Philadelphia and University City.

 

  

West Philly




University City

University City is the section of West Philadelphia surrounding Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. More specifically, it runs East to the Schuylkill River and Interstate 76 (Schuylkill Expressway), North to Powelton Ave., South to the Schuylkill river and the Media line railroad, and West to around 52nd Street.

The University of Pennsylvania has long been the dominant institution in the area and was instrumental in coining the name University City as part of a 1950s urban-renewal effort. Today, Drexel University and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, 30th Street Station, and the Cira Centre also call University City home. The western side, with its Victorian and early 20th-century housing stock, is primarily residential and is home to an ethnically and economically diverse population.

Within these boundaries are the local neighborhoods and several historic districts including :
Cedar Park is a neighborhood located in the western portion of the larger University City neighborhood; it stretches north to Larchwood Ave., south to Kingsessing Ave., east to 46th Street, and west to 52nd Street.

Originally, outlying farmland, Cedar Park was built between 1850 and 1910 as a streetcar suburb of Center City. Its development as a suburb accelerated with the installation of horsecars in the 1850s and again with the arrival of electric trolley lines in 1892.

It is racially and ethnically diverse, and much of the historic Queen Anne-style architecture still stands. Since about 2000, the neighborhood has been undergoing gentrification stimulated by the University of Pennsylvania's redevelopment plan for West Philadelphia.

Garden Court is a neighborhood located west of Spruce Hill, north of Cedar Park, east of Cobbs Creek, and south of Walnut Hill.

In the 1920s, The Philadelphia Inquirer called Garden Court "the most exclusive location in West Philadelphia." Garden Court was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 5, 1984. The neighborhood contains a diverse mix of housing types, including the 116-unit Garden Court Condominiums. It is a racially mixed neighborhood. Income and property values are greater than those of West Philadelphia as a whole.

The neighborhood is mostly residential, but contains small rows of shops around the intersections of 48th and Spruce, and 47th and Pine.

Powelton Village is a neighborhood of mostly Victorian, mostly twin homes. It is a national historic district that is part of University City. It extends north from Market Street to Spring Garden Street, east to 32nd Street, west to 40th and Spring Garden Streets, and to 44th and Market Streets.

Powelton Village takes its name from the Powel Family, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Welsh colonialists who held extensive estates in the area. As in other parts of West Philadelphia, in the late 1800s trolley lines opened the area up to urbanization. Powelton soon became a choice residential spot for Philadelphia industrial tycoons. Powelton's luster began to wane by the 1920s, and by the 1940s, low-income families populated the neighborhood. In the 1960s, the Village was home to many members of the counterculture movement, and Powelton today enjoys a strong political activism and anarchist tradition, as well as a healthy multiethnic pluralism.

Residential streets are mostly lined with Victorian twin houses, some of which are traditional family homes, while others have been subdivided into apartments. Detached houses, row houses, and apartment buildings also dot the neighborhood. An abundance of trees, many of which are historic, along with gardens maintained by many community residents, give the neighborhood a distinct feel. This aesthetic environment, along with the proximity to retail establishments and nearby universities, has resulted in increased home values in recent years, with some homes selling for several hundred thousand dollars.

The southern end of Powelton Village includes property owned by Drexel University. Many students from Drexel live off-campus in Powelton's urban-structured row-house apartments because of the short walk to campus.
Spruce Hill is a neighborhood located between 40th and 46th streets, and it stretches from Market Street south to Woodland Avenue. It was built as a streetcar suburb for Center City between 1850 and 1910. It is a racially and ethnically diverse part of the city, where much historic architecture is preserved.
Squirrel Hill is a neighborhood that shares a border with the Spruce Hill and Cedar Park neighborhoods. Squirrel Hill has the distinction of operating its own Police substation staffed entirely by volunteers.
 

Walnut Hill is a neighborhood located between 45th Street and 52nd Street, bounded by Market Street and Spruce Street. Most of the neighborhood is in the northwestern part of the University City District.

It is a racially mixed neighborhood with large numbers of African Americans, Middle Easterners, and Italian Americans, although the western part of the neighborhood is almost entirely African American. There is a growing Muslim presence, owing to the Masjid Jam'ia mosque at 43rd and Walnut Streets (affiliated with UPenn's Muslim Student Organization), the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects mosque at 45th and Walnut Streets, and Masjid Al Birr Wat Taqwa mosque on 52nd and Market Streets. There are a number of establishments that sell Halal food.

The neighborhood was largely built from the turn of the century through the 1940s, with a large growth spurt immediately following the construction of the SEPTA Market-Frankford Line. It is mostly 2 and 3-story rowhouses.
Woodland Terrace is a street name and a small neighborhood of Italianate twin mansions. It was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.


Belmont District

Belmont District is a defunct district that ceased to exist and incorporated into the City of Philadelphia following the passage of the Act of Consolidation, 1854. The name Belmont is still used as a neighborhood name for the area which lay along the Schuylkill River from the northern boundary-line of West Philadelphia to the northern boundary-line between Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, and had also its western boundary on that line, although it no longer refers to any legal entity.

Belmont District was created by act of the Assembly on April 14, 1853.and had scarcely time to be organized before the Act of Consolidation of February 2, 1854, put an end to its franchises. The name was derived from Belmont, the country seat of the Peters family, which is now part of Fairmount Park. William Peters erected the mansion about 1743, and the name was descriptive of the fine position of the property and suggestive of the beautiful views of the river and valley of the Schuylkill.



Carroll Park

Carroll Park is a neighborhood its boundaries are Lansdowne Avenue to the north, West Girard Avenue to the south, North 63rd Street to the west, and North 52nd Street to the east. The 10 trolley runs along Lansdowne Avenue and the 15 trolley runs along Girard Avenue. There is a park by the name of Carroll Park between North 59th and North 58th Streets and West Thompson Street and West Girard Avenue.

 
Cathedral Park

Cathedral Park is a small neighborhood its boundaries are North 52nd Street to the west and north, West Girard Avenue and the Old Cathedral Cemetery to the south, and the SEPTA regional rail tracks to the east. A prominent landmark in the neighborhood is the former St. Gregory Roman Catholic Church, located at North 52nd Street and Warren Street.
Cobbs Creek is generally bound by Market Street to the north, Baltimore Avenue to the south, 52nd Street to the east, and Cobbs Creek Parkway to the west. It is often locally referred to as "The Southside", in reference to its location to the south of Market Street and above the Baltimore Avenue border of Southwest Philadelphia. The area, originally farmland owned by the Cobb family (early Quaker colonists). In 1998, the Cobbs Creek Automobile Suburb Historic District was created, with Cobbs Creek Parkway, Spruce St, 62nd St, and Angora St its boundaries. The District protects 1049 buildings, with Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, and Bungalow/Craftsman architectural styles contained within the district.


Dunlap

The neighborhood lies in the vicinity of Haverford Avenue and Market Street and stretches from 46th to 52nd streets. The neighborhood is named after the former historic Thomas Dunlap School that was restored into senior homes in 1991.

 

 


Haddington

Haddington is a neighborhood its borders are defined as Haverford Avenue/Girard Avenue to the north, 52nd Street to the east, Market Street to the south, and 67th Street to the most western edge of the neighborhood. It is a largely African American community of mostly two-story rowhouses with a large proportion of elderly residents and a high home-ownership rate. Near the intersection of Vine Street and 56th Street, new construction and community facilities were built in the 1970s thanks to the Haddington Leadership Organization.

Haddington's Historic District is located on the 6000 blocks of Market, Ludlow, and Chestnut Streets, showcasing colonial and classical revival styles of architecture built from 1909 to 1915. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.


Mantua

Mantua is a neighborhood located north of Spring Garden Street, east of 40th Street, south of Mantua Avenue, and west of 31st Street. The neighborhood's northern and western reaches are predominantly working-class and African American, although its southern border with Powelton Village has seen recent gentrification and an influx of Drexel University student renters.

Prior to the 1940s, Mantua was a predominately white, Lutheran neighborhood. However, these decades mark the time when black families began moving into the area’s boundaries. The 1950s are what is seen as the peak of the neighborhood, which boasted a stunning commercial district on Haverford Avenue.

In the 1970’s Jenkins' Mantua Community planned to build a recreation center in Mantua. The neighborhood’s first recreation center finally opened on what is now 34th Street and Haverford Avenue. In addition to the playgrounds, ball courts, and offices featured at most recreation centers, this one also housed a free library, and holding a library card was a requirement for entrance to the play centers.

Wrice's Young Great Society and Jenkins' Mantua Community Planners continued to incorporate urban renewal programs, such as the planting of trees and building of housing units. Mt. Vernon Manor, a collection of apartment buildings, was once such development project.

In the late-1990s, many of the abandoned lots and buildings were bought, renovated, and put on the market for rent. The neighborhood saw an influx of college students from Drexel University, among other institutions, move into the area in search of affordable housing.It is estimated that between 500 and 1000 college-aged students are living in Mantua. This growing number of students has brought renewed interest to the Mantua community from the expanding university system to the south, consisting mainly of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Mantua is currently undergoing revitalization, in part to the organizational leadership provided by the MCIC and services provided by the city and university systems.


Mill Creek

Mill Creek is a neighborhood located north of Market Street, south of Girard Avenue, between 44th and 52nd Streets. It is named for the eponymous creek that was covered by a cistern in the 1880s, although the water underneath the neighborhood continues to affect its residents, as subsidence remains an issue.

Mill Creek Apartments, a public housing project designed by Louis Kahn, was demolished in 2002 and replaced with Lucien Blackwell Homes. The three 17-story highrise project towers were replaced by suburban-style low-rise homes.

Mill Creek School is a private school on the grounds of the Kirkbride Center, which was formerly the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital.


Overbrook

Overbrook is a neighborhood located in the northwestern portion of West Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The larger Overbrook area includes four neighborhoods: Overbrook, Overbrook Farms, Morris Park and Overbrook Park. The close proximity of Overbrook High School, the Overbrook School for the Blind, the Overbrook SEPTA Station, and Overbrook Avenue unite the four smaller neighborhoods into the larger area of Overbrook. The area contains an assortment of housing from large, old homes to row homes to 3-4 story apartment buildings.

Overbrook Farms is both a larger neighborhood in the Overbrook area and a distinctive neighborhood in its own right. Overbrook Farms is home to the Overbrook SEPTA regional rail station; housing for Saint Joseph’s University students, such as the Lancaster Court Apartments; the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, and Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church. This region was originally settled by Welsh immigrants who purchased land from William Penn. Two of these farms contributed land for the Overbrook Farms neighborhood. Overbrook Farms was founded first in 1892 as the first planned community on the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Overbrook Farms Company was the neighborhood's developer with links to directors of the Girard and Drexel Banks and the Pennsylvania Railroad. This planned community includes some of the first residential projects of the first graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania's architectural program. Overbrook Farms maintains the oldest continually operating neighborhood association in America, the Overbrook Farms Club (OFC). OFC sponsors an annual house tour each Spring.
West of the Overbrook neighborhood is a neighborhood of Morris Park.. This neighborhood derives its name from Morris Park, which lies on the neighborhood’s western edge. The Roman Catholic parishes of St. Donato and St. Callistus are in the Morris Park neighborhood. On the corner of North 66th Street and Lansdowne Avenue, there is a mural, green space, and a garden. The sign says “Overbrook: A great place to live together.” The garden is called Vito’s Garden.

Overbrook Park’s boundaries are City Avenue to the north and Morris Park on the west, south, and east. Haverford Avenue connects Overbrook Park to the Morris Park neighborhood while City Avenue connects Overbrook Park to Overbrook Farms. It was founded in the 1940s on the site of a former farm, offering new housing for returning GIs and their families. Today, Overbrook Park's population is predominantly black. Originally, it was largely Jewish.

Overbrook developed in various stages between 1900 and 1960. The dominant housing type is the rowhouse. Because Overbrook was built in the early twentieth century when trolley lines were allowing middle class Philadelphians to move out from more crowded rowhouse communities, one can find a wide variety of styles of rowhomes in Overbrook. Outside of Overbrook Farms, most of the houses in the Overbrook area date from between 1915 and 1930, with the Great Depression bringing a halt to new construction nationally and locally.

In addition to rowhouses, one can find a sizeable number of twin (semi-detached) houses. Prime examples of typical Overbrook twin houses are along Wynnewood Road from Haverford Avenue to Malvern Avenue.

There are very few detached single-family homes in Overbrook. Single homes typically pre-date the construction of most of Overbrook’s housing or came into existence on select lots after the construction of most of the rowhouses and twin houses.


Parkside

Much of the Parkside neighborhood was built during the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. It is a National Register of Historic Places Historic District with many examples of Victorian architecture, some well-preserved, others in poor condition. The neighborhood was populated by German Americans, followed by Eastern European Jews, before becoming heavily African American after World War II.

 

 
Saunders Park

Saunders Park is a neighborhood bounded by Powelton Avenue, 38th Street, Lancaster Avenue, and 40th Street. It is west of Powelton Village and north of Spruce Hill.

It is named for the park at the northeast corner of 39th and Powelton Avenue. The Presbyterian Medical Center is next to the park. Saunders Park is often considered to be a part of West Powelton, which extends out to 42nd Street.


Wynnefield

Wynnefield (a.k.a. The Field) is a predominantly African-American, middle-class neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Its borders are 53rd Street at Jefferson to the south, Philadelphia's Fairmount Park to the east, City Avenue (commonly referred to as "City Line") to the north and the Amtrak Main Line tracks to the west. It is the home of St. Joseph's University and the television station WPHL-TV (MY PHL 17). It also has a connections to the motion picture industry. Wynnefield is the childhood home of actor Will Smith, film producer Lee Daniels ("Monster's Ball" and "The Woodsman"), film director Charles Stone III, politico and former "Big Brother" reality-TV contestant Will Mega and documentary filmmaker Tigre Hill. As of 2006, changes to the neighborhood include the expansion of St. Joseph's University, and an influx of students and new residents of non-African descent moving into the area.Wynnefield Ave

Like the nearby suburban community of Wynnewood, Wynnefield takes its name from William Penn's physician, Thomas Wynne, who built his home "Wynnestay" at 52nd Street and Woodbine Avenue in 1690. It has previously been known as a part of Delaware County, later annexed by Philadelphia and known as Balwynne Park or Woodside Park. Woodside Park was an amusement park constructed by the city's Fairmount Park Transportation Company that operated from 1897 to 1955.
From about 1900, Wynnefield was an upscale and predominately Jewish-American community, consisting largely of immigrants from Russia, Germany, and elsewhere.
Much of the development of Wynnefield after the 1960s is due to the influence of the late Katie B. Jackson (1929–1993). Known by the African-American community as "Queen of Wynnefield," Jackson founded the Wynnefield Academy, a private, co-educational PK-4 elementary school in 1975. The Katie B. Jackson Development Corporation and Katie B. Jackson Senior Citizens Complex bear her name.


Wynnefield Heights

Wynnefield Heights is a middle class suburban neighborhood bordering on City Avenue is also known as Woodside Park or Balwynne Park. Wynnefield Heights is the home of the Presidential City Apartments, WPVI-TV Channel 6, the City Line shopping center, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Hilton Hotel, TGI Friday's, Target, the Belmont Water Treatment Plant and Reservoir, and the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks. It is also the home of The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Wynnefield Heights Community Association

 

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