West Oak Lane

West Oak Lane: A Historical and Cultural Tapestry in Northwest Philadelphia

Located in the northwest section of the vibrant city of Philadelphia lies the culturally rich neighborhood of West Oak Lane. This community is a perfect blend of history, culture, and urban charm, making it a unique and attractive place to live, work, and visit.

Geographic Location

West Oak Lane finds itself bordered by several major thoroughfares, namely Cheltenham Avenue, Broad Street, Washington Lane, and Stenton Avenue. It shares its geographical neighborhood with other distinct communities like East Germantown, Ongontz, Olney, and La Mott.

Historical Development

West Oak Lane’s development began in the early part of the 20th century, with most structures erected between the 1920s and late 1930s. Post-World War II, the areas near Cedarbrook saw a surge in construction. The neighborhood was once the home of the Cedar Park Inn, a 19th-century tavern situated at the intersection of Washington Lane and Limekiln Pike. However, the historic establishment was torn down around 1931 as the neighborhood was being fully developed.

West Oak Lane

Cultural Events

The community has a rich cultural history, hosting an annual jazz festival from 2003 until 2012. Over the years, the festival has seen performances from renowned artists such as Chaka Khan, Teena Marie, Jeffrey Osbourne, and Chrisette Michele.

Historical Landmarks

West Oak Lane is home to the historic Philadelphia National Cemetery, established in 1862 and included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. It hosts several important monuments, including the Mexican War Monument, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and the Revolutionary War Memorial.

Another notable landmark is Ogontz Hall, a beautiful structure that blends residential and commercial use. Built in 1929, it showcases the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, featuring limestone construction with a brick exterior and a terra cotta tile roof.

Local Cuisine

West Oak Lane offers a variety of dining options, reflecting the diverse cultural fabric of the community. Some popular spots include China House, Family Spot Jamaican Restaurant, Moonlight Cuisine, and Jamil’s Cafe.


The neighborhood is home to a diverse population. As of 2013, West Oak Lane housed 42,390 residents. The populace is a mix of different ethnicities and ancestries, including Sub-Saharan African, African, Haitian, Jamaican, and Mexican origins. A significant portion of the population speaks both English and French.

Income and Employment

Despite being a below-average income neighborhood, West Oak Lane is home to a workforce engaged in a variety of professions. Occupations range from clerical, assistant, and tech support roles to executive, management, and professional positions. There is also a significant percentage of the population involved in sales, service jobs, and manufacturing and laborer occupations.


The School District of Philadelphia operates the public schools in the area. Notable educational institutions like the Samuel W. Pennypacker School, William Rowen School, and Gen. Louis Wagner Junior High School, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are located here.


West Oak Lane is served by SEPTA’s Route 6, a former streetcar line currently operating as a bus route. The route connects the Olney Transportation Center to the south and the Cheltenham and Ogontz Loop to the north, providing easy access to surrounding areas.


The neighborhood offers a variety of shopping options, with many stores located on Stenton and Ogontz Avenues. The Cheltenham Mall and the Cedarbrook Plaza mall are also located in close proximity, offering residents a variety of retail options.

From its historical landmarks to its rich cultural tapestry, West Oak Lane is a neighborhood that tells a story of resilience, diversity, and community spirit. It remains a vibrant part of Philadelphia’s landscape, a testament to its enduring legacy.