- Roxbury, Massachusetts
image_caption = The First Church of Roxbury, built in 1804 and fifth on the site since 1632
established_title = Settled
established_date = 1630
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date2 = 1846
established_title3 = Annexed by Boston
established_date3 = 1868
timezone = Eastern
timezone_DST = Eastern
area_code = 617
Roxbury is a neighborhood within Boston,
MassachusettsUSA. It was one of the first towns founded in the Massachusetts Bay Colonyin 1630, and became a city in 1846 until annexed to Boston on January 5, 1868. [http://www.rcht.org/roxbury_history.htm Roxbury History] . Part of Roxbury had become the town of West Roxbury on May 24, 1851, and additional land in Roxbury was annexed by Boston in 1860.] The original town of Roxbury once included the current Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, the South End and much of Back Bay. Roxbury now generally ends at Columbus Avenue to the north and Lenox Street to the east.The original boundaries of the Town of Roxbury can be found in "Drake's History of Roxbury and its noted Personages". Those boundaries include the Christian Science Center, the Prudential Center (built on the old Roxbury Railroad Yards) and everything this side of the Muddy River including Symphony Hall, Northeastern University, Y.M.C.A., Harvard Medical Schooland many hospitals and schools in the area. This side of the Muddy River is Roxbury, the other side is Brookline and Boston. Franklin Park, once entirely within Roxbury when Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and Roslindale were villages within the town of Roxbury until 1854, has been divided with the line between Jamaica Plain and Roxbury located in the vicinity of Peter Parley Road on Walnut Avenue, through the park to Columbia Road. Here, Walnut Avenue changes its name to Sigourney Street, indicating the area is now Jamaica Plain. One side of Columbia Road is Roxbury the other is Dorchester. Melnea Cass Boulevard is located approximately over the Roxbury Canal that brought boats into Roxbury bypassing the busy the port of Boston in the 1830s.
A store known as The Blue Store was located at the intersection of Washington and Warren streets in Dudley since 1699. Many remember the furniture store there known as Ferdinand's Blue Store, as the elevated train bisected the building. This area was also the home to several famous Boston business firms, W. Bowman Cutter's Hardware Store with the upside down sign, Timothy Smith's Department Store, and J. S. Waterman and Sons, funeral directors to many prominent Boston families.
Early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony established a series of six villages in 1630. The village of Roxbury is noted for its hilly geography and the many large outcroppings of
Roxbury puddingstone, which was quarried for many years and used in the foundations of a large number of houses in the area. The town was located where Boston connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmuscalled Boston Neckor Roxbury Neck. Since all land traffic to Boston had to pass through it, Roxbury became an important town. It would be home to a number of early leaders of the colony, including colonial governors Thomas Dudley, William Shirleyand Increase Sumner. The Shirley-Eustis House, built at Roxbury during the period 1747–1751, is one of only four remaining Royal Colonial Governors' mansions in the United States.
The settlers of Roxbury originally comprised the congregation of the First Church of Roxbury, established in 1632. [ [http://oasis.harvard.edu:10080/oasis/deliver/~div00626 First Church in Roxbury, MA. Records, 1641-1956] , Harvard University Library] During this time the church served not only as a place of worship but as a meeting place for government. The congregation had no time to raise a meeting house the first winter and so met with the neighboring congregation in Dorchester. One of the early leaders of this church was
Amos Adams. The first meeting house was built in 1632, and the building pictured here is the fifth meeting house, the oldest such wood-frame church in Boston. [ [http://www.bostonhistory.org/m_roxbury.php Historical Markers: Roxbury] The Boston Historical Society] The Roxbury congregation, still in existence as a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, lays claim to several things of note in American history:
* The founding (along with five other local congregations, i.e. Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown and Dorchester) of
* First Church of Roxbury was the starting point for
William Dawes' "Midnight Ride", April 18, 1775(in a different direction than Paul Revere) to warn Lexington and Concord of the British raids during the Revolutionary War.
Urban and industrial development
As Roxbury developed in the 19th century, the northern part became an industrial town with a large community of English, Irish, and German
immigrants and their descendants, while the majority of the town remained agricultural and saw the development of some of the first streetcar suburbs in the United States. This led to the incorporation of the old Roxbury village as one of Massachusetts's first cities, and the rest of the town was established as the town of West Roxbury.
In the early 20th century, Roxbury became more diverse with the establishment of a Jewish community in the Grove Hall area along Blue Hill Avenue. Following a massive migration from the South to northern cities in the 1940s and 1950s, Roxbury became the center of the
African-Americancommunity in Boston. Social issues and the resulting urban renewal activities of the 1960s and 1970s contributed to a decline in the neighborhood. In particular, a riot in response to the assassinationof Martin Luther King Jr.resulted in stores on Blue Hill Avenue being looted and eventually burned down, leaving a desolate and abandoned landscape. Rampant arsonin the 1970s along the Dudley Street corridor also added to the neighborhood's decline, leaving a landscape of vacant, trash filled lots and burned out buildings. The arrival of the crack epidemicin the 1980s helped make Roxbury one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Boston. The violent crime would not be significantly reduced until the late 1990s. In early April 1987, the original Orange Line MBTA route along Washington Street was closed and relocated to the Southwest Corridor (where the Southwest Expressway was supposed to be built a couple decades before). More recently, grassroots efforts by residents have been the force behind revitalizing historic areas and creating Roxbury Heritage State Park.
Boston Transportation Planning Reviewstimulated relocation of the Orange Line, and development of the Southwest Corridor Park spurred major investment, including Roxbury Community College at Roxbury Crossing and Ruggles Center at Columbus Avenue and Ruggles Street. Commercial development now promises reinvestment in the form of shopping and related consumer services. The Fort Hill section experienced significant gentrification when college students (many from Northeastern Universityand Wentworth Institute of Technology), artists, and young professionals moved into the area in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the present day, there is much commercial and residential redevelopment, but violent crime (especially gang violence) and drug abuseremain consistent problems. Roxbury is widely-regarded as the most dangerous neighborhood of Boston [Citation needed] .
Roxbury is still a majority African-American neighborhood as it has been since 1960, but there is a growing Puerto Rican population. As of the 2000 census Roxbury was 5% Non-Hispanic White, 63%
African-Americanor Black, 24% Hispanic or Latino who can be of any race, 1% Asian-American, 3% from other races and 4% from two or more races.
Among Roxbury's most notable inhabitants was famed clockmaker
Simon Willard(1753-1848), whose prolific output included the invention of his patented banjo timepiece, or banjo-shaped wall clock. He is also honored for the tall-case clocks he made in the "Roxbury style," which he produced until about 1815.
Other notable residents include:
Amos Adams, clergyman
Joseph Alexander Ames, portraitist and artist
Will Blalock, NBA player for Detroit Pistons
Bobby Brown, musician and TV performer
Melnea Cass, Civil Rights activist
Cid Corman, poet
Sparrow Driver, football coach
* Rev. John Eliot, minister, "Apostle to the Indians"
Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, orator, and author
Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam
Edo G, rap artist raised on Humboldt Avenue
William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist and publisher of "The Liberator"
Charles Dana Gibson, graphic artist (of Gibson Girlfame)
Edward Everett Hale, editor, author and clergyman
Roy Haynes, jazz drummer
William Heath, Major General, Continental Army, American Revolutionary War
Marcia Hines, American-Australian musician
Karl Hobbs, basketball coach
Jonathan Kozol, author, educator, and activist
Samuel Pierpont Langley, astronomer, physicist and aviation pioneer
Josephine Shaw Lowell, philanthropist
Malcolm X, minister, Black nationalist
Charles Sedgwick Minot, anatomist
New Edition, R&B/Pop music group
Louis Prang, artist, printer, engraver, maker of the first Xmas card.
John L. Sullivan, heavyweight boxing champion from 1882-1892
Joseph Warren, doctor, soldier and patriot
Simon Willard, renowned clockmaker
John Wilson,dn artist
Rev. Dr. Soliny Védrine, Founder of Haitian Ministries International
ites of interest
Franklin Park Zoo
John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science
Long Crouch Woods
* [http://www.bostonhistory.org/?s=neighborhoods&p=histmarkers&sub=m_roxbury Roxbury Historic Markers]
* [http://www.boston-online.com/roxhist.html Roxbury History -- Boston Landmarks Commission]
* [http://maps.bpl.org/id/10156/ Bailey Co. Map] -- 1888 bird's-eye view map of Roxbury area
* [http://www.discoverroxbury.org Discover Roxbury] -- tours and information
* [http://www.shirleyeustishouse.org/ Shirley-Eustis House] -- Massachusetts' Royal Governor's Mansion
* [http://www.rcht.org/ Roxbury Crossing Historical Trust] -- historical society
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