Coined by many residents as an “attractive block” the 5400 block of Wyndale Avenue stretches over a two-block span with over 60 homes and almost the same number of old, tall trees.
This block populated primarily with seasoned residents and young professionals has a neighborly history that long term residents love to tell.
Robert Clarke, a retired mechanic for Atlantic Richfield Refinery, said he moved to the block in May 1968, raising his son and daughter there.
“The neighbors we have today are the neighbors we had 15 years ago. We’ve seen a few people come and go but very rarely do we see a moving van here. The block is solid,” Clarke said.
Clarke said he witnessed most of the children grow up and become productive citizens to society.
“At least four of our [blocks’] children are police officers. Several others have gone on to become business executives” Clarke said. “I can’t remember a cop showing up on anyone’s doorstep while we were raising our kids.”
Elissa Martinez,22, has lived on Wyndale since she was born and said she enjoys the peaceful atmosphere.
“It’s a quiet block, there’s not a lot of drama or loud noise or anything,” Martinez said.
Curtis Jones, City Councilman of the 4th District in Philadelphia, has lived on Wyndale since 1995. He mentioned what attracted him to move there.
“I loved the idea that you could actually here crickets at night. Silence is golden when you live on a good block,” Jones said.
Robert Clarke’s wife, Kathryn, attributed the religious background many of the neighbors share to the atmosphere of the block.
“The big factor is most of the families on this block are Christians. You are held to a higher standard. There is a code of ethics and one is respect for ones neighbors,” Kathryn said.
The Clarke’s also mentioned that neighbors participate in regular efforts to clean and maintain the block.
“Most of us try to keep up our yards, so it’s a nice looking block. We work together whenever they have cleanings around here,” Kathryn Clarke said. “It’s just a wonderful stability factor when you see the same faces all the time.”
Swinetta Bowens, 47, who moved onto the block in 1990, said what attracted her to the block were the homes and cleanliness.
“They do cleanups a couple times a year where people come out, bag the leaves, cut your grass, so neighbors are pretty good with that,” Bowens said.
While a peaceful and quiet block, Wyndale has had its share of concerns among residents.
The aged trees and trash on Wyndale are a common concern for many of the homeowners.
“One of my small concerns is trash. I’m talking about the irresponsibility of people coming out of the corner store, throwing the trash on the street,” Robert Clarke said. “Some mornings some of us go around and pick up all the trash.”
He also mentioned the asset trees were to the block.
“One of the great selling points of this block was the trees and the lawns and we’d hate to lose these trees,” Clarke said.
Clarke said that there is a serious tree problem because a lot of the trees are rotting and have become a hazard.
“One tree severely damaged an automobile. The Park Commission promised us the tree would come down but they couldn’t give us a timetable,” Clarke noted.
City Councilman Curtis Jones said that he shares the same concerns residents share with trees.
“I was getting dressed ready to go out and survey the damage of a storm and all of a sudden I heard a big crack that sounded like thunder!” Jones said. “I peeped out my window only to find one of those great big trees I love had fallen and totally destroyed my car.”
Like most blocks, Wyndale has had some ‘issues.’
“We’ve had our share of boneheads on the block. Every block does. People have moved in, trashed the houses and then left,” Robert Clarke noted.
Resident Claudia Martinez said she’s picked up trash before and is not a main concern for her.
“ I wouldn’t say it’s a nuisance. People go to corner stores, eat and walk down the street and they tend to drop their trash wherever they are” Martinez said. “It’s a nature of having the corner store.”
Many residents are aware of the Saint Joseph’s University students that live on the block and have different opinions on the effect that has on the community.
Dorothy Roberson, 70, lives next to Councilman Jones and appreciates the students.
“We are getting some St. Joe’s children but thanks to God, we don’t have bad ones. You would think they were homeowners because they are pretty good,” Roberson said.
However, Robert Clarke said the students from St Joe’s affect the property on the block.
“Some have moved out and put the houses up for rent, we wound up at certain times with a lot of college students’ Clarke said. “It’s not a bad thing but at the same token, it when you have a lot of rental properties you got to wonder about the value of your own property.”
Please check on the rest of Wynnefield. I am also a long time resident and I noticed that there any MANY abandoned properties. It appears that 2 large properties have been set on fire recently. One of the properties is 1 door down from Congressman Fattah’s office. Now it is covered in graffiti.
This is not the Wynnefield that I remember and it is SAD. More needs to be done for this once idyllic area of Philadelphia. What are your plans to improve your neighborhood??? The same neighborhood that boasts not just Councilman Jones but also Mayor Nutter????