Wynnefield, Philadelphia: Rich in History 

Wynnefield, a prominent neighborhood in West Philadelphia, stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and diverse cultural fabric. With its borders stretching from 53rd Street at Jefferson in the south to the lush boundaries of Fairmount Park in the east, City Avenue in the north and the Amtrak Main Line tracks in the west, Wynnefield represents a vibrant middle-class community.

Geographical Setting

Wynnefield is surrounded by various neighborhoods, with Bala Cynwyd in the north, Wynnefield Heights and Belmont Village in the east, Parkside in the south, and Overbrook in the west. Its main commercial arteries are North 54th Street, Bryn Mawr Avenue, and City Avenue. Wynnefield is also home to the television station WPHL-TV (MY PHL 17).

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Historical Background

The neighborhood’s name traces back to William Penn’s physician, Dr. Thomas Wynne, who built his home, Wynnestay at 52nd Street and Woodbine Avenue in 1690. Wynnefield’s rich history spans centuries, from its rural beginnings in the late 1600s to its transformation into a bustling residential area in the 20th century, largely due to the construction of the Market-Frankford Elevated Train and various trolley lines.

In the early 1900s, Wynnefield was considered an upscale community with predominantly Jewish-American residents, along with large groups of non-Jewish immigrants from Russia, Germany, and other Eastern European countries. By the mid-1960s, the neighborhood began transitioning into a predominantly African American community. Today, Wynnefield parallels highly regarded Mt. Airy as one of the most racially diverse neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
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Of the 21,361 total housing units located in the 19131 zip code per 2019 Census data, 8,544 or 48.8% are owner-occupied units. The neighborhood offers a variety of housing types: two-story brick townhomes and row duplexes, garden apartments, and mid-rise and high-rise apartment homes. Some apartment complexes include The Metropolitan – Wynnefield, The Dane, and The Premier at City Line.


The neighborhood is served by the School District of Philadelphia. The neighborhood’s educational institutions include:

  • Elementary schools:
    • Samuel Gompers Elementary School (K-8)
    • William B. Mann Elementary School (now a Mastery Charter School)
  • High schools:
    • Overbrook High School
    • Science Leadership Academy at Beeber
  • Charter schools:
    • The Laboratory Charter School of Communication and Languages
  • Private schools:
    • Woodbine Academy
    • St. Rose of Lima Catholic School
    • Settlement Music School, Wynnefield Branch

The Free Library of Philadelphia also operates the Wynnefield Branch.

Colleges and Universities

Saint Joseph’s University, though just outside the neighborhood, has its athletic fields within the area’s boundaries at North 54th St. and Overbrook to City Line Avenue.

Notable Residents

Wynnefield has strong connections to the motion picture and music industries. Notable residents include actor and rapper Will Smith, film producer Lee Daniels, film director Charles Stone III, and documentary filmmaker Tigre Hill. Local politicians with ties to Wynnefield include former Philadelphia mayors Michael Nutter and Wilson Goode, City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr, and Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson.

Places of Worship

The neighborhood is home to a variety of places of worship, reflecting its diverse cultural composition. These include Wynnefield Presbyterian Church, Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, West Side Baptist Church, St. Barbara Catholic Church, Baha’i Community of Phila, and Kol Tzedek Synagogue, among others.

Community Development

The development of Wynnefield post the 1960s was significantly influenced by the late Katie B. Jackson, fondly known as the “Queen of Wynnefield.” She founded the Wynnefield Academy, a private, co-educational PK-4 elementary school in 1975.

Wynnefield is a neighborhood with a rich past and a vibrant present. Its historic roots, diverse cultural composition, and strong community spirit make it an exciting and dynamic part of Philadelphia. Whether it’s the historic charm of Wynnestay, the diverse cultural institutions, or the lively commercial arteries, this neighborhood offers a unique blend of history, culture, and community that continues to thrive in the heart of West Philadelphia.