Roots so deep, they predate America
Philadelphia is known for history, and Roxborough is no exception. Before our country declared its independence, we were already laying the groundwork for the beautiful, green, inviting community that Roxborough is today.
Our community was founded more than three centuries ago, back in 1682. Back then, we were a neighborhood of plantations, stretching from the clear, crisp waters of the Wissahickon Creek to the apex of Ridge Avenue. Yet even then, our community was so organized and inviting that William Penn singled us out as a uniquely beautiful part of Philadelphia.
Before the arrival of railroads, Ridge Avenue—though back then it was called Ridge Road—was a key travel route running from Center City, through Roxborough, and beyond.
During the American Revolution, British troops marched down this central byway towards Philadelphia after the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. Like much of the surrounding area, our community was the site of bitter battles and terrible war scenes—most notably a tragic massacre on December 19, 1777.
But after America won her independence, Roxborough began to prosper again. The industrial revolution arrived. Local waterways powered saw mills, paper mills, cotton mills, and more. Farmlands were converted into attractive Victorian streets. Religious and recreational organizations thrived. Our hospital was built. The community grew.
Today, Ridge Avenue has become less of a throughway and more of a destination. It’s lined with local businesses, restaurants, and well-known shops. Yet behind the changing landscape, one aspect of our community remains much the same: the progressive, welcoming people who call Roxoborough home.
Just like the pioneering plantation owners, the visionary revolutionaries, and the hardworking industrialists of decades past, Roxborough residents of today are reinventing this community, redefining it for a new generation. And together, they’re making it friendlier, cleaner, safer, more diverse, more prosperous, more creative, and more beautiful than ever before.
With the recent revitalization of Ridge Avenue, Roxborough takes pride in preserving its rich history for future generations.
Joseph Minardi's Historic Architecture In Philadelphia series provides a photographic story of Roxborough's unique architectural profile.