Exploring Boston’s Roxbury Community

Once a simple farming community located on the outskirts of Boston, the neighborhood of Roxbury is now a diverse community boasting a dynamic business district. Incorporated in 1630, the neighborhood is one of the oldest communities in Boston. This rich history can still be seen in the community’s architecture and cultural sites.

Rebuilding a Community

The Roxbury community is comprised of several district, including the areas around Fort Hill, Dudley Square, Grove Hall, Crosstown, Blue Hill Avenue and Egleston Square. While the community faced severe issues related to poverty, unemployment and arson in the 1960s and 1970s, grassroots efforts have helped to rebuild the community in recent years. Today, several projects are underway to continue this upward trend. Among these are the development of the 1.2-million-square-foot Tremont Crossing, which will offer more than 700 apartments and retail space, along with the major overhaul of the Boston Public Library Dudley branch.

As part of this rebuilding process, the community also offers a number of resources to assist its residents. For example, Roxbury is home to a community garden made possible by the help of more than 200 volunteers. Meanwhile, the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF) Shelburne Community Center provides basketball leagues, teen mentoring and classes in things such as martial arts, digital media and computers. The ExtraHelp program, which is a weekly television show designed to assist students with homework and other educational needs, is also based in Roxbury.

Recreational Centers

A number of recreational centers serve the Roxbury community. The Roxbury YMCA, for example, was founded in 1851. One of the largest YMCAs in the country, the facility offers recreational programs as well as adult education and childcare. Other community centers include the John A. Shelburne community center and the Hattie B Copper Community Center. Both serve as recreational, educational and cultural enrichment centers, with the Hattie B. Copper Community Center having a focus on leadership development for women of color.

The Reggie Lewis Center is a more recent addition to the community’s recreational facilities. Built by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the center is home to the Roxbury Community College athletic teams. The facility hosts over 90 high school, collegiate and national track meets each year. Events that have been held there include the USA Track and Field Championships, Northeast 10 Championships, Boston Indoor Games and NCAA Division II Championships. The center also hosts a variety of community outreach programs.

Housing in Roxbury

Roxbury has many housing resources available to its residents. In addition to government housing and shelters, programs are available to help with purchasing, improving and keeping homes in Roxbury. Some of these programs include MASS housing, Action for Boston Community Development, Mass Access and the Section 8 waiting list. MASS Housing alone offers more than $16 billion for financing housing for buyers and owners.

Roxbury Education

Roxbury is served by Boston Public Schools. Schools located within the community include Boston Latin Academy, John D O’Bryant School of Mathematics & Science and Madison Park Technical Vocational High School. The Roxbury Preparatory Charter School also serves the neighborhood, while higher education opportunities are available at the Roxbury Community College. The co-educational public institution offers Associate Degree and certificate programs.

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