5.4 out of 10

West Oak Lane

Ranked 44th best neighborhood in Philadelphia
40.0628152475678 -75.1564862909564
Great for
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Public Transport
  • Internet Access
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Cost of Living
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Shopping Options
  • Eating Out
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Singles
  • Country Lovers

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Not The Best- But Okay."

So, I was born in this section of town, and have been living here for 16 years. It's an okay place to live, but don't get me wrong, it has its problems. To start off, I would much rather live in this section of North Philly than I would the rest (excluding East Oak Lane). Compared to most of North Philly, West Oak Lane is God in terms of your overall quality of life. There's a fairly small presence of crime (yeah, someone gets shot here and there, but overall I feel safe leaving my house during the day), there's good public transportation (the 6 bus takes you to Olney/Cheltenham and Ogontz loop and comes every 12 minutes, the K can get you Germantown & Roxborough, and the XH can get you to Germantown also). I like the fact that I can get to just about any section of the city within 45 minutes on public trans when leaving my house, not to mention the fact that Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy is only a drive/bike ride/bus ride away.

The neighborhood is primarily working class African-Americans, although there are some "thug" types from North Philly that move up here because of the abundance of public housing. I will admit the fact that I do not like going below Andrews Ave because of this. In this place it's pretty safe during the day because everyone is usually out and about. There's a strong community presence here - everyone knows their neighbors on a personnel level. Everyone's fairly nice here and you can expect some people saying "hey, how ya doing?" while walking down the street. There's always something to do around here due to the fact that OARC (Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation) has been opening several shops along "downtown" Ogontz (the area by the plaza and the area by the fire house).

Speaking of thugs, there are a lot of them below Andrews Ave because it's cheaper there, so be warned!!!

Recently this place is starting to become a little more diverse. Now, I see maybe 1-2 whites, 2-3 Asians, and 3-4 Hispanics when I leave my house. The whites (and I hate to say this) seem really tense because they think the people here are rude-racist-blacks (like some of the other reviewers pointed out) and they seem to almost have this ambiance of fear whenever they interact with "us", but after a while of living here they realize that the people here are friendly and won't rob or hurt them (most of us anyway). Heck, I've even seen some interracial couples here!!!

It's still a majority black area, though. So don't think you're gonna come here and find a bunch of people of different races - and yes, there are young black guys that will occasionally drive down your street blasting music - I went to my Aunt's house in very white rural Maryland and had white kids do it.

All in all, I like living in this place. Crime is the only thing that bothers me, but even then it's not so much crime that I am fearful to leave my house during the day (during the evening, though, I like to be cautious). The people here are nice, there's plenty of public trans, some of the best neighborhoods in the Northwest are only 10 minutes away, and it's slowly beginning to see a change (like most neighborhoods in the city are).

Once you learn to avoid driveways, certain streets, and make sure you use your street smarts during the evening, it's actually an okay place to live. I know that seems like a lot, but trust me, if you follow those tips you should have a good experience living here - DON'T go below Andrews Ave!

EDIT: Here's some more stuff.

-Ogontz Ave can have heavy traffic during the morning and evening rush.
-There's plenty of parking on most residential streets.
-In some homes (primarily the ones above Andrews Ave) you have a front and backyard along with a deck and driveway.
-It is quiet during the day, although there can be some noise around the late afternoon (kids get out from school, neighbors yell at each other).
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Houses with yards
  • inexpensive
  • interesting architecture
Cons
  • Still come crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
2yrs+

"West Oak Lane - On the Rebound"

West Oak Lane has been the prime beneficiary of state representative, Dwight Evans. For 30 years, One of his primary goals was the revitalization of Ogontz Avenue, a central artery through the community. As well, Mr. Evans controlled the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Education Budget seeing that West Oak Lane received its due.

The area is comprised of an African American population considered largely middle-class. Spacious homes with large yards and greenery are the norm. Properties have maintained their value only declining 3 percent in a recent years.

The Free Library has the Ogontz Branch which a multitude of adult education classes. Recently seniors walk in support of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Cheltenham Mall is nearby just across the city line.

A highlight is the annual West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival which is nearing its tenth year.
West Oak Lane is off the beaten path and so a car is necessary for convenient transportation. Nevertheless, there are some bus transit routes in walking distance.

There have been periodic spates of crime and neighborhood associations are keeping watch.

Martin Luther King High School has had its troubles and has been the recent site of controversy over the awarding of a charter school contract.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Houses with yards
  • Jazz Festival
Cons
  • Transportation
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Getting better for families"

West Oak Lane is an extremely diverse neighborhood that is located in the Northwest section of Philadelphia. It is bound by Ogontz Avenue to the north, East Mount Airy to the east, Montgomery County to the west and East Oak Lane to the southeast. West Oak Lane is commonly nicknamed W.O.L. and Uptown by its younger residents.
The area’s residence are predominantly middle class African American but there are also many Irish Americans, Polish Americans and Hispanics in the neighborhood. There is a large selection of different types of homes in West Oak Lane including two-story row homes, detached houses with small yards, apartments and condos. In 2005, the median home sale price was $113,200.
Though the area has gotten better, there is still a large presence of crime in West Oak Lane. Officer Charles Cassidy, a well-respected policeman, was shot and killed while on duty at a Dunkin’ Donuts in West Oak Lane.
The area is largely residential and most of it is spread out, so it is recommended that you get a car or bike to get around. There are some national chain stores located in West Oak Lane, but it is not the best appear for shopping or dining out.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Houses with yards
  • Good for families
Cons
  • Still come crime
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
NYC
NYC West Oak Lane is not extremely diverse. It is one of the more homogenous neighborhoods in Philly. It's probably 99% black. There are NO Irish or Polish Americans in the area. They moved out in the early '70s. In fact, it is very rare for a white person to walk through the streets of WOL because they are too scared for good reason. Many of the black people in WOL hate white people and would give them dirty looks or, at worst, assault them if they walked through. Trust me, I've experienced it. I was born there in 1973 and my family moved out a few years later. Try going to the Cheltenham Mall if you are white. See how welcome the people are to you.
2yrs+
CaesarH
CaesarH Well, we're pretty nice to the Asian people living on our street. Maybe you just caught one racist person and decided that everyone was like that? It's pretty safe here during the day, but I guess you can vouch for most white people by saying the fact that they are all too scared to come here (even though I see them everyday here)? Get a life please!
2yrs+
NYC
NYC When I say West Oak Lane, I mean the area between Broad and Walnut, and Cheltenham and Stenton. Very few white people live there. My guess would be less than 20 white people live there and they are mainly old folks who never left. My experience in WOL as a child was a cop driving up to me and telling me to go back to my neighborhood because I "could get killed." I know that most of the people in WOL are not racist but there are angry, desperate people there who do not like whites in the hood. Maybe it's better than it used to be, as far as I understand, it still has a high burglary rate and there are at least a dozen murders there each year, mainly because of drug conflicts. But you know better than me because you live there so I respect that. I hope someday it becomes diverse again with all kinds of people.
2yrs+
NancyG
NancyG I grew up on Andrews Avenue, a few doors down from Pflaumer's Ice Cream Parlor on Ogontz Avenue. My grandparents lived on Forest Avenue, about half a block north of Andrews Avenue. This was the 50s and it felt like Heaven to a little girl, with Pflaumer's, another ice cream parlor on Ogontz by the movie theater, a 5&10, two movie theaters and yes, a front and back yard. One block south of Andrews was a penny candy store. My grandparents stayed longer than we did as we moved to Oreland. My grandparents were the first on Forest to have A-A neighbors and those neighbors were wonderful to my grandparents, helping out in any way possible and my grandmom would reciprocate with her wonderful baked goods. What a shame that all people can't interact in that manner. When I lived in Milwaukee after marriage to a med student, we were in a mixed neighborhood and had absolutely no trouble. It seems someone has to be a bad egg in otherwise good situations. Hope to see WOL come back fully.
2yrs+
Add a comment...
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"There is more to the neighborhood than historical manhunts"

Sometimes neighborhoods get lumped into other neighborhoods and West Oak Lane has that issue as part of the area is often considered to be a neighborhood called “Ogontz.” But really when you describe one you’re kind of describing the other.

West Oak Lane is a neighborhood that has seen its share of change. It started as a predominantly white neighborhood developed in the 1920s. Today the residents are mostly working class African-Americans.

The architecture in this neighborhood is different from other areas in that a large number of the houses are detached. There is also the luxury of small yards with many of them as well. And the streets in this neighborhood are lined with trees which is usually uncommon unless you are in West Philadelphia.

Some of the more historic buildings in West Oak Lane were demolished shortly after the businesses closed, Cedar Park Inn, a once popular tavern fell victim such fate.

West Oak Lane’s residents have a strong appreciation of Jazz Music and show it with the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival. They neighborhood has been hosting it every year since 2003 attracting jazz enthusiasts from all over.
The neighborhood also made unfortunate headlines in 2007 when an officer was shot and killed while on duty. His murder led to one of the biggest manhunts in Philadelphia’s history.
Pros
  • inexpensive
  • interesting architecture
  • Jazz Festival
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

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Unranked Streets in West Oak Lane

"Avoid this area"
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70th Ave

4/5
"You need money to live here"
40.0597127365985 -75.1400726456766
"Needs a lot of hard work"
40.0637090773982 -75.163789321909
"Quiet Street in Middle-Class Neighborhood"
40.0647401241392 -75.1556401609224
"Older, Well-Established Neighborhood"
40.0624075087782 -75.151588473486
"Ok for a starter home"
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Rodney St

2.5/5
"Middle Class Street"
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Yerkes St

3.5/5
"Quiet street"
40.0628536280126 -75.1693394819186

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