Roxborough, Philadelphia

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Neighborhood of Philadelphia
William Levering School is located in Roxborough
William Levering School is located in Roxborough
Country  United States
State Pennsylvania
County Philadelphia County
City Philadelphia
Population 30,940
Zipcode 19128
Area code(s) Area code 215

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 of Manayunk, along the northeast by the Wissahickon Creek section of Fairmount Park, and to the southeast by the neighborhood of East Falls. Beyond Roxborough to the northwest is Montgomery County. Roxborough's zip code is 19128. Most of Roxborough is in Philadelphia's 21st Ward.[1]


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. At this time Roxborough was the home of the areas wealthiest; the owners of the Manayunk mills. These mills didn't just produce anything from textiles to plastic containers, they also produced exuberant fortunes for the mill owners, much of which was funneled back into the community. This money went into building schools, parks, and even a large Victorian manor built for the area's elderly women, The Roxborough Home for Women.

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. Several coffee shops, like "Crossroads" a cafe built in an old shoe store, and restaurants, like local favorites Bob's Diner and Roma's Bakery, 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 station in Roxborough.

Philadelphia University and St. Joseph's University are nearby. Its tree-lined streets and front lawns make it a "greener" part of Philadelphia, similar to a suburb.

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, But Henry Avenue Was extended in 1959 from Roxborough Ave to Andorra, includes several concrete arch bridges One Which crosses over the Wissahickon Creek & Lincoln Drive 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. The Broad street Subway was never to expand into Roxborough, it was to expand into the Northeast Above Ground in the middle of the Roosevelt blvd.

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 "row homes" and homes dating from the 1800s to 1900s, has a historic, urban character. Many of these row homes were not built in Roxborough until the 1900s. Though there are many homes from the 1800s in neighboring Manayunk.

Roxborough's main park is Fairmount Park. 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. Another important park is Gorgas Park, located on Ridge Avenue. The park is one of the many landmarks in Roxborough to have the namesake of the financially generous, affluent Gorgas Family. The Park has gone through significant renovations over the past two decades. Renovations which have turned the once dilapidated, unkempt, and overgrown Gorgas Park into the manicured neighborhood center it is today. One filled with frequent bazaars, flea markets, and evening concerts. Wissahickon Creek Enters the Schuylkill at the 5000 Block of Ridge Avenue.

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 neighborhood 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 "MiND", once called "WYBE", is also located in upper Roxborough, close to neighboring Andorra.

The Upper Roxborough Historic District and William Levering School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]


Andrew Robeson and Roxburgh, Scotland[edit]

The area of Roxborough was likely named for Roxburghshire, Scotland, the original home of Andrew Robeson, one of the very first settlers of the area.[citation needed]

In 1676, Andrew Robeson, his wife Elizabeth, and his nephew Andrew Jr. came to America from Scotland where Andrew Sr. became Surveyor General for 300,000 acres of land in Southern New Jersey where he presided as Judge in Gloucester County.[citation needed] In 1690, Andrew Sr. moved to Philadelphia and purchased an estate located in the area that is known today as Roxborough, roughly where the on and off ramps for City Line Avenue and Lincoln Drive are.

Andrew Sr. became Chief of Justice in Pennsylvania until he died in 1694. He was responsible for making Roxborough a township in 1690.[citation needed]

The Robeson family is known to have originally come from Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland. Roxburgh (pronounced Rocs-burr-ah) was a small region in the southeast of Scotland until it was changed to the region of "The Borders" in 1975; the town of Kelso still remains as a historic Scottish village though.


In 1706, a German philosopher named Johannes Kelpius who lived in the woods not far from the Robesons wrote about "foxes burrowing in rocks" in the area.[citation needed] A correlation between the phonetic spelling "Rocksburrow" that many resident Germans applied to the Township, and Kelpius's "where foxes burrow" letter of 1706, convinced many that the township's origins related to foxes.

Kelpius popularized his spelling of the township[citation needed], but not long afterward, the spelling was changed to its current form.[citation needed]

The Township could have retained The names "Manatawna" or "Leverington", as they were popular names the area was referred to as in the 1690s[citation needed] and early 1700s, but thanks to the popular writings of Johannes Kelpius, the name remained as Roxborough. Other spellings have also been noted in early writings as Roxbury and Roxboro.


School District of Philadelphia operates public schools. Its zoned schools include Shawmont Elementary, Cook Wissahickon, and Roxborough High School.[citation needed]

The Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, Lankenau Environmental Magnet high school, is in upper Roxborough.[3]

William Levering School, founded in 1748, closed its doors in June 2012.[4] Its building will hold a different school, AMY Northwest, a special admissions middle school (6-8).[5] AMY used to be located in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, in a rented church building.

The area has been one of the main feeder regions for Roman Catholic and J.W. Hallahan High Schools, the oldest all boys and all girls Catholic high schools in North America, respectively.

Public libraries[edit]

Free Library of Philadelphia operates the Roxborough Branch at 6245 Ridge Avenue at Hermitage Street.[6] The "Roxborough - Manayunk - Wissahickon - East Falls - Andorra Historical Society" also has an archive room in the Roxborough Branch. It is maintained by one of the Historical Societies' top members and one of the area's community leaders, Sylvia Myers.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "A Brief History of Philadelphia". Retrieved 6 December 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ "Our History." W. B. Saul High School. Retrieved on March 28, 2013.
  4. ^ DeNardo, Mike. "Philadelphia School Reform Commission Votes To Close Seven Schools, Adopts Preliminary Budget". CBS Local Media. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Scavuzzo, Sam. "SRC Votes to Close Levering Elementary". Roxborough Patch. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Roxborough Branch." Free Library of Philadelphia. Retrieved on November 7, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Binzen, Peter. Whitetown, U.S.A.. Random House, New York, N.Y., 1970.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°03′17″N 75°14′31″W / 40.054813°N 75.242072°W / 40.054813; -75.242072