From A Survey of Boston and Its Vicinity, by John G. Hales (Boston, 1821)
The town of Roxbury is thickly settled, particularly the north and westerly parts thereof. The old roads are very injudiciously laid out, it seems as though common chance had guided their course more than rule or judgment; they are generally speaking, former of hard materials and kept in good order, with but few troublesome hills. The Dedham Turnpike [present day Washington Street] runs diametrically through the centre of the town in nearly a straight line, and is a great acquisition thereto. On the northeast skirts of the town there is about one thousand acres of marsh; south-westerly whereof about three fourths of a mile the soil is rich and fertile, and within this parallel the most compact part of the town is built. Then proceeding still south-west the surface becomes more uneven with some considerable swells and ledges of rocks for about half a mile when you break in up the beautiful plain called Jamaica Plains, which is composed of a rich and productive soil, cultivated in a great degree as gardens and orchards, and producing vast quantities of vegetables and fruit of the first quality. This plain is about two miles in length and on in breadth, on which are dispersed a great number of country seats and pleasure grounds. The east and south-east, including about one third of the town, is considerably broken and rocky with about two thousand acres of woodland, but notwithstanding there are many good farms within this space.
The town is bounded northerly on Boston and Charles River Bay, north-west on Brookline and Newton, south-west on Dedham, and south-east on Dedham and Dorchester. It is upwards of seven miles in length, and about one and three fourths of a mile broad.