Philadelphia's West Oak Lane neighborhood hosted its first Night Market on Thursday, drawing visitors from all over the city. For one night, Ogontz Avenue was transformed into a street fair filled with food carts and live music.
NewsWorks was on hand to ask visitors what sets West Oak Lane apart from other Philadelphia neighborhoods. NewsWorks intern Nicole Foulke returned with some enthusiastic assessments from neighborhood residents, first-time visitors, and old friends of the neighborhood — including Pa. Reps. Steve Kinsey and Dwight Evans.
Many lamented the demise of the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival, which was absent last year, but which returned this past weekend in a diminished state. Nearly everyone said they were happy to see activity and signs of a vital, friendly neighborhood.
Deborah, West Oak Lane
I love West Oak Lane, and especially the revitalization of this area. Because I've lived in this area for over 40 years, and just watching it revitalize is just great. I just think this is a nice addition, especially since this is the second year of losing the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival. So I think this is a nice replacement for it.
Banita, North Philly
West Oak Lane is different because it's a nice mix of people, a mix of cultures, and there's lots of different things popping up around here that — every time I come up here it's something just a little different that wasn't here before. People are friendly up here. When you drill down on most Philadelphia neighborhoods, people are really friendly.
Ida, West Oak Lane
I've lived here for 50 years, and I have a home hare, and I have enjoyed it. And I want to continue to be here the rest of my life. We try to keep the neighborhood up and try to kept livable, so that people can […] have a beautiful home to live in.
I think it's very cultural. There's a lot of small restaurants, a lot of soul food restaurants. That's usually what I come here for.
Dennis, Lehigh Valley
I've seen this place in its worst, and it's come so far. it's exciting to come here and support any activity that brings this neighborhood back up. They had the West Oak Lane Jazz Fest. Supporter of that. So we heard this was going on. We were hoping this is what it would be.
John, West Philly
What brought me up here was the jazz festival. And ever since then, I've just fallen in love with the neighborhood. We have some friends up here, some family up here. And we are actually considering moving up here, we like the neighborhood so much. It's a neighborhood. It's a genuine neighborhood. I feel like I could have neighbors up here. People who actually speak to you before they go in the house.
So far, from what I've seen from West Oak Lane, it seems like a very vibrant and culturally diverse neighborhood. Everyone here has a lot of energy. One of my primary motivations for coming out here was definitely food. And I'm a food truck spotter, so I've been following a lot of these for kind of a long time, I'd say at least several months. And I saw the huge amounts of cuisines and trucks that were offered and music and every thing like that, and i thought you know why don't I go check it out?
The event, organized by The Food Trust, in partnership with the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation, drew crowds in excess of 12,000 people, said Food Trust project manager Diana Iskolsky Minkus.