Most of us know about the parting stone in Eliot Square and the mile marker just a few hundred yards south on Centre Street that tells us we are 3 miles from Boston. But did you know that Centre Street, aka the Road to Dedham, was once a part of the Boston Post Road that led to Providence and New York?
If you don’t know the story of the Post Road, or even if you think you do, you should head on over to JP resident Gary Denton’s marvelous blog Walking the Post Road. A couple of years ago, Mr. Denton walked the entire Post Road, all 283 miles of it, starting at the State House in downtown Boston and ending up in Manhattan. He did the trip in stages and wrote down his findings in 65 lovingly researched blog posts.
Fortunately for us on Fort Hill, his early posts are among the most detailed. You might not have time to read all 65 posts (although I bet you’ll find it hard to stop once you start), so if you want to stick to the Roxbury/Fort Hill history, you can read only entry 5 (Roxbury Gate to the Parting Stone), entry 6 (mile marker 3 and Paul Dudley), entry 7 (Centre Street and the Roxbury Russet), and entry 8 (the Stony Brook, Hoggs Bridge, and Jackson Square to Hyde Square). But you should really start at the beginning.
And for those of you who want just the facts (and if so, what are you doing reading a neighborhood history blog?) here they are: ”The” Boston Post Road was actually one of several routes used by postal services over the years to connect New York and Boston, but the route that goes through our neighborhood is the oldest. The mile markers were built around 1729-1735 by Paul Dudley, the 3rd notable Dudley in Roxbury. They were there to assist travelers through what was then sparsely populated farmland and wilderness. The mile markers denote the distance to the old State House in downtown Boston at the corner of State and Washington, and the route starting at the State House takes you south on Washington to Dudley Square, then up Roxbury Street to the Parting Stone, then south on Centre Street through Fort Hill and JP.
But the facts alone are boring. Do yourself a favor and head over to Walking the Post Road to read the details.
If I ever catch the tagger who did this I’m going to indelibly mark his colon with his Steel Blitz marker.