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Wynnefield (a.k.a. The Field) is a diverse 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.
Surrounding neighborhoods include Bala Cynwyd to the north, Wynnefield Heights and Belmont Village to the east, Parkside to the south, and Overbrook to the west. Its main commercial arteries are North 54th Street, Bryn Mawr Avenue (2200 block), and City Avenue. It is the home of St. Joseph's University, a Catholic Jesuit University of some 7,000 students 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.
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. Previously a part of Delaware County, it was later annexed by Philadelphia. It has also been known as Balwynne Park or Woodside Park. The former Woodside Park portion is now the separate community of Wynnefield Heights. Woodside Park was an amusement park constructed by the city's Fairmount Park Transportation Company that operated from 1897 to 1955.
Before Wynnefield's expansion in the early twentieth century, Wynnefield was largely a rural and undeveloped area of farms dating back to the late 1600's. 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. Philadelphia's trolley lines are now only 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 and was considered a predominately Jewish-American community. However, there were large groups of non-Jewish immigrants from Russia, Germany, and other Eastern European countries that formed the Wynnefield community.
In the 1920's 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 54th St. and Lebanon Ave.
Until the 1960s, An area near Wynnefield, Bala Cynwyd, across City Avenue in Lower Merion Township, was known as an upscale shopping district. Small, local boutiques thrived alongside of The Blum Store, Bonwit Teller, and Lord & Taylor. Betty's hat shop was a popular destination for the Main Line elite and Jackie Kennedy fans. Suburbanites would bring their families to spend the day shopping and to enjoy a meal at local haunts such as Pub Tiki and Williamson's Restaurant. Women from areas such as nearby Bucks County would ride into Bala Cynwyd on SEPTA buses, donning their best garb and wearing their white gloves.
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 with current demographics of 64.7% Black and 28.4% Caucasian as compared to Mt. Airy's 62.5% Black and 31.7% Caucasian. 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.
Har Zion Synagogue, built at 54th & Wynnefield Ave in 1924, was a longtime resident of the area before moving to larger facilities in Penn Valley, PA in 1976.
Colleges and universities
Primary and secondary schools
Wynnefield is served by the School District of Philadelphia.
- Samuel Gompers Elementary School
- William B. Mann Elementary School. However, this school is now a Mastery Charter School.
- The neighborhood feeder school for Wynnefield is Overbrook High School.
In addition, The Laboratory Charter School of Communications and Languages is an area charter school.
- Wynnefield Academy
- Woodbine Academy
- St. Rose of Lima Catholic School
- Settlement Music School, West Philadelphia Branch
Places of worship
- Wynnefield Presbyterian Church
- Pinn Memorial Baptist Church
- West Side Baptist Church
- Wynnefield Baptist Church
- St. Barbara Catholic Church
- Bethel Holiness Pentecostel Church
- Overbrook Avenue Gospel Hall
- New Testament Church of God
- Endtime Zion Church of Jesus
- Community Bible Tabernacle Church
- International Church of God
- Church of the Advocate
- Evelyn Graves Ministries Church
- Baha'i Community of Phila
- Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship Mosque
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wynnefield, Philadelphia.|
- InfoResources West Philadelphia Neighborhood - Wynnefield
- West Philly On-line Wynnefield history
- Willam B. Mann Elementary School
- Beeber Middle School
- Settlement Music School - West Philadelphia Branch
- History of Har Zion
- Mosque of Shaikh M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen