East Oak Lane, Philadelphia
East Oak Lane
|Area code(s)||Area code 215|
East Oak Lane is a neighborhood at the northern end of the North Philadelphia planning district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Many of the houses in the neighborhood are large single homes or twins built at a later period than much of central North Philadelphia. There is also a significant number of typical Philadelphia rowhouses.
East Oak Lane is currently defined by the borders of Cheltenham Avenue at the north (the border between Philadelphia and Cheltenham Township), Broad Street on the west, Godfrey Avenue at the south, and the Tacony Creek to the east.
This area of Philadelphia was first settled in 1683 as William Penn's first neighborhood. In 1695, a Welshman named Griffith Miles bought 250 acres of land and built a log home along a dirt road that would later be known as Oak Lane.:11 The area became known as Milestown in 1711, and as farming began to flourish, water-powered mills were built.
The road that came to define the neighborhood, initially called Martin's Mill Road, was renamed Oak Lane by a landowner in 1860, in remembrance of an ancient oak tree that had blown down in a storm.:11
The first school building at what is now 12th and Oak Lane was a one-story schoolhouse, built in 1745 and donated in 1761 by Joseph Armitage to the trustees of what was then the Milestown School.:12 Ornithologists Alexander Wilson and John Bachman were among the teachers there.
Buildings and landmarks
Across the street from Ellwood School, the Oak Lane Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia still operates in its historic 1910 building at the corner of 12th and Oak Lane, renovated in 1958 and 1999.
East Oak Lane is known for "large, elaborate houses of various styles" and "grand churches.":10 Numerous architectural styles are visible, for example, in the area between 65th and 69th Avenues, with homes that have been the subjects of paintings by artist Chuck Connelly. Across the railroad tracks, a row of shops, most built in the second half of the 20th century, gives the impression of a small town Main Street.
Demographics and notable residents
In addition to its architectural diversity, East Oak Lane has long been known for being racially and ethnically diverse.
Notable past residents have included:
- Noam Chomsky, linguist and political theorist who grew up in East Oak Lane on Fairhill Street.:15 While Chomsky described his family as being, in the 1930s and 1940s, "the only Jewish family in a mostly Irish and German Catholic neighborhood", he attended the nearby Oak Lane Country Day School, a "progressive and lively K-8 private school [whose] students were for the most part Jewish".:14
- Vivian Green, singer-songwriter and pianist
- Leslie Odom Jr., Tony Award-winning actor who originated the role of Aaron Burr in the 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton
- Hugh Panaro, actor who played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway for over eight years between 1999 and 2014
- "About East Oak Lane". Oak Lane Community Action Association. Archived from the original on September 12, 2017.
- Poxon, Marita Krivda; Hildebrandt, Rachel (2011). Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-7386-1.
- "Oak Lane Library". Free Library of Philadelphia. Archived from the original on December 7, 2017.
- Filemyr, Albert; Holt, Jeff (June 2014). "Locating Alexander Wilson's Bristol Township and the Milestown School". The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 126 (2): 401–405. doi:10.1676/13-174.1.
- Journal of the Common Council, of the City of Philadelphia, for the Year 1866. 2. Philadelphia: King & Baird, Printers. 1867 [December 11, 1866]. p. 299.
An ordinance to authorize the acceptance of the Milestown school house and lots of ground for school purposes
- Connelly, Chuck (2007). "Gallery". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- Feinberg, Harriet (February 1999). "Elsie Chomsky: A Life in Jewish Education" (PDF). Brandeis University. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 13, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2008.
- Kreisler, Harry (March 22, 2002). "Activism, Anarchism, and Power: Conversation with Noam Chomsky". Institute of International Studies, U.C. Berkeley. p. 1. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017.
- Whelan, Aubrey (December 28, 2015). "Leslie Odom Jr.: Being Burr in 'Hamilton' like falling in love". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on January 17, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- DeBrandt, Dennis (2012). "My Oak Lane Avenue". Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Mears, Anne de Benneville (1890). The Old York Road and Its Early Associations of History and Biography: 1670-1870. Philadelphia: Harper and Brother. pp. 9, 13, 36, 51, 55–61.