Roxborough, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Roxborough is a neighborhood in the Northwest Philadelphia section of the United States city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is bordered to the southwest, along the Schuylkill River, by the neighborhood ofManayunk, along the northeast by the Wissahickon Creek section of Fairmount Park, and to the southeast by the neighborhood of East Falls. Beyond Roxbrough to the northwest is Montgomery County. Roxborough’s zip code is 19128. Most of Roxborough is in Philadelphia’s 21st Ward.
Most of modern day Roxborough was once part of Roxborough Township, which was incorporated into the City of Philadelphia following the passage of the Act of Consolidation, 1854.
Roxborough has been a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood of Philadelphia. Lower Roxborough and the Wissahickon section of the neighborhood, near East Falls, are working class. However, this economic picture is changing as gentrification occurs in Roxborough, Manayunk, and East Falls.
The commercial spine of the neighborhood is Ridge Avenue, which, as its name suggests, runs along the ridge between the Wissahickon Creek and the Schuylkill River. Most businesses are located on Ridge Avenue and most residents are within walking distance to it. In an effort to revitalize Ridge Avenue, the area has been awarded large grants. Several coffee shops and restaurants have opened recently, along with boutiques and yoga studios.
Roxborough is well-connected to Center City Philadelphia with multiple bus routes and bike lanes reaching the river and downtown area of Philadelphia. SEPTA’s Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail line stops in the Wissahickon section of Roxborough, continues through Manayunk, and stops again at the Ivy Ridge and Miquon stations in Roxborough.
The area is very popular with young professionals as medical schools and universities are nearby. Its tree lined streets and front lawns make it a “greener” part of Philadelphia, similar to a suburb.
Roxborough continues to have one of the lowest crime rates among city neighborhoods.
Henry Avenue runs parallel to Ridge Avenue from the border of East Falls and North Philadelphia, to Andorra where it merges into Ridge Avenue. It was built in the 1930s and includes several concrete arch bridges, including one over the Wissahickon Creek where it crosses into East Falls. This bridge includes a pair of box tunnels under the roadway. The bridge was designed to carry a planned extension of the Broad Street Subway into Roxborough, but the extension was never built.
Because of the Wissahickon Creek and the park which protects much of its watershed, Roxborough and Manayunk are physically separated from the rest of the city. Much of lower Roxborough, consisting of “town homes” and homes dating from the 1800s to 1900s, has a historic, urban character.
Roxborough’s main park is Fairmount which has the Wissahickon Creek as its main water supply. This part of Fairmount Park is known as Valley Green which stretches from Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy to Center City Philadelphia. The park’s numerous trails are used by cyclists, runners, walkers, dog owners and mountain bikers. Gorgas Park, located on Ridge Avenue, has vistas across the city.
Upper Roxborough, with its development occurring after 1950, has a suburban character: larger front lawns, garages, and shopping centers. Local news sources have been known to incorrectly refer to Roxborough as a suburb of Philadelphia.
There is no official list of neighborhoods for the city. The north-west section of Roxborough is often considered a separate neighbor called Upper Roxborough. Similarly, some maps of Philadelphia simply label most of the northwestern part of the city below Fairmount Park as “Roxborough/Manayunk”.
Since the 1950s, most of Philadelphia’s major television and FM radio stations have located their transmission towers in Roxborough because of its hilly terrain and high elevation. Public television station WYBE is also located in Roxborough.
The area was likely named for Roxburghshire, Scotland, the original home of Andrew Robeson, one of the early settlers of what is now Roxborough. It may have also been named by the hermit Johannes Kelpius, leader of a millennial monastic-type group that lived along the Wissahickon, though he refers to as area as “Rocks-burrow” in a letter dated May 25, 1706. Kelpius did, however, popularize the name, as the township had also been variously known as Manatawna and Leverington.
School District of Philadelphia operates public schools. It has Roxborough High School.
Free Library of Philadelphia operates the Roxborough Branch at 6245 Ridge Avenue at Hermitage Street.
- ^ ”Roxborough Branch.” Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on November 7, 2008.