Roxbury was one of the first towns founded in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and was known for its large outcroppings of Roxbury puddingstone, which was quarried for many years and was used in the foundations of numerous area houses. Primarily an agricultural community throughout the 19th century, the 20th century brought a massive migration of people from the South to the northern cities and a residential and industrial expansion.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s however, social issues and arson lead to the deterioration of the neighborhood. Today, Roxbury is reemerging with hundreds of new business and housing initiatives revitalizing the neighborhood’s Dudley Square, Crosstown and Grove Hall areas. Two of the most dramatic transformations has been Blue Hill Avenue, which has gone from a street lined with vacant lots to a dynamic business district and Fort Hill, noted for the Fort Hill Tower, the site of Revolutionary War fortifications, being transformed into a popular residential neighborhood.
Notable residents of Roxbury have included musician Bobby Brown and New Edition, civil rights activist Melnea Cass, abolitionist Frederick Douglass and minister Malcolm X.