The area was first settled by Native Americans. Oxford was first called Hood's Crossing, after the local Hood's Tavern. The borough was later called Oxford Crossing and Oxford Village.
Oxford was located near the half-way point on the main road from Philadelphia to Baltimore. The owner of the stage between the two cities purchased Hood's Tavern and re-named it Oxford Hotel. It became the stopping point on the two-day trip between the two cities.
In 1833, Oxford was officially incorporated as a borough. Its first burgess (currently called the mayor) was Thomas Alexander, who operated a general store in which the oldest public library in Pennsylvania was located. His store is thought to be the oldest building in Oxford.
The northern half of Oxford was owned by the Dickey family in the 19th century. The Dickeys included the local Presbyterian minister, the founder of the local bank, a state Representative, and local businessmen. Reverend John Miller Dickey and his wife Sarah Emlen Cresson founded Ashmun Institute in 1854 which later became Lincoln University, PA. The family played a major role in re-routing the planned railroad connecting Philadelphia and Baltimore. Track was laid in the 1850s, and by the time of the Civil War, Oxford was a bustling community. The business district on Third Street was entirely re-built at this time, including the Oxford Hotel (1858) and Oxford Hall (1862). Oxford became known for its confectionery and candy businesses and was the location of many manufacturing facilities.
In the late 20th century, transportation changes resulted in Oxford being located off the main roads. A bypass was constructed for U.S. Route 1, but the major change was the construction of Interstate 95 - which shifted the bulk of the Philadelphia-Baltimore traffic away from Oxford.
Oxford is located at 39°47′2″N 75°58′42″W / 39.78389°N 75.97833°W / 39.78389; -75.97833 (39.783877, -75.978375).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.9 km²), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,315 people, 1,703 households, and 1,047 families residing in the borough. The population density was 2,254.6 people per square mile (872.3/km²). There were 1,825 housing units at an average density of 953.6/sq mi (368.9/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 77.75% White, 11.87% African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 7.39% from other races, and 2.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.15% of the population.
There were 1,703 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.8% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.5% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the borough the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.0 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $34,966, and the median income for a family was $41,172. Males had a median income of $35,398 versus $23,015 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $16,579. About 10.0% of families and 11.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.3% of those under age 18 and 12.9% of those age 65 or over.
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