History of Wynnefield
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. The former Woodside Amusement Park was located in nearby Fairmount Park and is now the separate community of Wynnefield Heights.
Before Wynnefield’s expansion in the early twentieth century, it was largely a rural and undeveloped area of farms dating back to the late 1600s. However, this changed with the construction of the Market-Frankford Elevated Train and the various trolley lines. With the creation of the lines it suddenly became easier for people to live farther from their jobs, and into the undeveloped areas of the city. Today, all but one of Philadelphia’s trolley lines are exclusively operational in West Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, the Jewish-American community were discriminated in certain neighborhoods in Philadelphia, prompting them to create their own community in Wynnefield. From about 1900, Wynnefield was considered an upscale community with predominately Jewish-American residents. However, there were large groups of non-Jewish immigrants from Russia, Germany, and other Eastern European countries that formed the Wynnefield community.
In the 1920s Wynnefield expanded again, through the purchasing of rural lots, and their conversion into smaller plotted neighborhoods of row houses. Additional streets, such as Diamond Street were put in 1923 and additional row housing increasing the population of the neighborhood. German-Catholics moved into the neighborhood, prompting the founding of Saint Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in January 1921 on Georges Lane and Lebanon Ave near 54th Street.
In the mid-1960s, the neighborhood began the transition into being largely African American. 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. Today Wynnefield closely parallels highly regarded Mt. Airy as being one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
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.
|Population of Wynnefield (Including Overbrook, Wynnefield, Belmont Village, and Wynnefield Heights)||44,723|
|Mean Household Income||49,724|
|Total housing units located in the 19131 zip code||21,361|
|Owner-occupied housing units||8,544|