Living in West Chester: A Neighborhood Guide

The biggest college town in the region offers urbane delights and a relaxed pace of life.

west chester

Downtown West Chester / Photograph by Erik Weber/West Chester Views

Town and gown

West Chester is the second-largest of Philly’s collar-county seats, with more than 19,000 residents. For nine months of the year, though, that figure nearly doubles thanks to the 17,000-plus full-time students attending West Chester University. Today, the school, founded in 1871 to train teachers, is a multifaceted university located just a few blocks south of downtown. It also serves as a cultural hub for the borough, with performing arts and exhibits throughout the academic year.

Global taste

Those denizens plus the Chester County government support a busy downtown filled with distinctive eateries. Name your cuisine and you can probably find it, from Italian (Limoncello, 9 North Walnut Street) to Mexican (Más Mexicali Cantina, 102 East Market Street) to Hawaiian and Japanese (Rai Rai Ramen and Hawaiian BBQ, 124 East Market Street) to Mediterranean (the Mediterranean, 150 West Gay Street). Or stop at Carlino’s gourmet market (128 West Market Street) to pick up ingredients for a meal at home.

Shop talk

Curious shoppers will find much to delight them in the boutiques. Creep Records (133 West Gay Street) is a record store and record label rolled into one. Blink (136 West Gay Street) offers the latest women’s styles.

Building on its past

West Chester boasts many grand Victorian homes on its north side, especially around Marshall Square Park. “There are some phenomenal old homes there that add character to the town,” says Rotelle Development Company president Peter Rotelle, whose firm builds new homes in and around the borough. He adds that the surrounding countryside is equally phenomenal, with “winding roads that are neat to travel on.”

What You Can Buy in West Chester For …


west chester

Photograph by Billy Kyle

1034 Hershey Mill Road. This rebuilt 1800 farmhouse sits on 1.3 landscaped acres bisected by a stream and pond. 4BR, 3/1BA, 3,708  sq. ft. Lisa Yakulis, Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty, 610-517-8445.


west chester

Photograph by Tyler Monastero

811 Oakbourne Road. Early settler John Townsend built the original stone farmhouse in Westtown in 1758; Amish craftsmen constructed the- large rustic addition in 1989. 6 BR, 2/1BA, 5,509 sq. ft. William Cochrane, James A. Cochrane Inc., 610-469-6100.


west chester

Photograph by Kevin Walsh

211 North Adams Street. Close to a park and B. Reed Henderson High School, this vintage twin has been transformed into an airy, modern house with an open main floor. 3BR, 2BA, 1,800 sq. ft. Jennifer  Fryberger, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors, 484-883-0438.


Published as “Living in West Chester” in the August 2023 issue of Philadelphia Magazine.