History: City of Roxbury
Roxbury’s original boundaries included present-day Roxbury and the neighborhoods of Mission Hill, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, the South End and much of Back Bay. The town was located where Boston connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus, called “Roxbury Neck.” Roxbury Neck eventually disappeared under the massive landfill efforts that shaped modern Boston.
Roxbury provided the colonists with many resources important to their survival in the new land: good farmland; materials for building, such as timber and stone; and the Stony Brook for waterpower. Because of its location on Roxbury Neck, the only land route into Boston, Roxbury became important economically and militarily. The town became known for its Roxbury puddingstone, which has been used in the foundations of many buildings and homes throughout the Boston area.
In 1632, the colonists built their first meetinghouse in John Eliot Square, and there has been a church on this site continuously ever since. John Eliot Square served as the town center, and many of the colonists’ early roads still define the area’s topology: Washington St., Dudley St., Centre St., Roxbury St. and Warren St. all date back to the first years of settlement.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Roxbury's primary economic activity was farming. The town was known for its orchards, with Roxbury farmers developing several notable varieties, including both the Roxbury Russet and Williams apples.