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. Many maps fail to show the neighborhood of Andorra, which borders Roxborough to the northwest. Beyond Andorra 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 is 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 the Ridge (as residents refer to Ridge Avenue), and most residents are within walking distance to it. In an effort to revitalize the Ridge, the area has been awarded large grants.
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 subway into Roxborough, but the subway was never extended anywhere near the bridge.
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 1800′s to 1900′s, has a historic, urban character.
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. Similiarly, some maps of Philadelphia simply label most of the northwestern part of the city below Fairmount Park as “Roxborough/Manayunk”.
Most of Philadelphia’s television and FM radio stations have 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 was not named by the hermit Johannes Kelpius, leader of a millennial monastic-type group that lived along the Wissahickon, though he refers to the 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.