Overbrook is a community within West Philadelphia, known for Will Smith, its safe streets and active community members. However, there are a lot of confusing elements of Overbrook, even to its longtime residents.
Where exactly is Overbrook?
According to the Neighbors of Overbrook Association, Overbrook parameters consist of the land between Lancaster, Woodbine, Haverford, and City Avenues and 54th and 63rd Streets. This area cover Overbrook, as well as Overbrook Farms and Overbrook Park. However, according to Raheem Davis, a youth volunteer at the Tustin Recreation Center located at 5901 West Columbia Avenue, Overbrook is anything over the bridge past the abandoned Acme warehouse.
“Anything up Upland Ave. is Overbrook,” said Davis. “Don’t listen to none of the maps. They don’t know. Underneath that is Wynnefield and we don’t mess with them.”
The borders of Overbrook runs parallel to the bridge Davis mentioned and split at 57th and 59th Streets and Upland Avenue, which leads to confusion for unfamiliar visitors to the area.
Who is Overbrook?
Most people know about Overbrook as the home of Will Smith and Wilt Chamberlain but they are not the only famous people hailing from Overbook. Guion S. Bluford, Jr., is the first ever African-American in space as a member of the Space Shuttle Challenger mission. A mural of him is painted on the Upland Avenue Bridge, heading into the Overbrook community.
There are multiple civic and community associations for the residents of the Overbrook area. NOAH, the Neighbors of Overbrook Association, is the youngest of the neighborhood community organization, which started in 2002 with the help of former Councilman Michael Nutter. The OPCA, Overbrook Park Civic Association, primarily serves the Overbrook Park Community and has focused on the upkeep of Rose Playground. And lastly, the Overbrook Farms Club, which was founded in 1892 and takes the credit of being the oldest civic association in American history, serves the Overbrook Farms area and is attempting to have the area registered as a Historic District. However, all of these organizations claim to be “the civic association for Overbrook.”
Why is this happening in Overbrook?
Between the half of mile of 66th Street from the 1700 to 900 blocks, the property value increases from $110,000 for a home, to $749,000 for a home within the same neighborhood, according to trulia.com and public records. This is a 580 percent property increase on the same block within the same neighborhood.
As 66th Street is part of the Overbrook Farms community, the increase in price differential of homes and cost of living is not as surprise as residents of the Overbrook Farms area make on average $29,140 more than other residents in Overbrook, according to the 2011 census. The median household income in Overbrook was $39,890 in 2011. The median household income in Overbrook Farms was $69,030. How are the disparities within the Overbrook community happen and does this mean different treatment and services for the residents within the community?
– Text and Images by Julian Hamer.