Washington Street - 1901
North or South? I have little idea as to which direction we are looking in this image of Washington Street. Over 100 years have passed since this photograph was taken and so much has changed along our main thoroughfare. On the left hand side of the picture are the tracks of the Blue Hill Street Railway. And, on the right hand side you can see an ancient fence set behind the youthful elm trees that would be gone fifty years later.
Washington Street is our most ancient way, originally the King's Highway it stretched from Boston to Rhode Island. It ran through its present location as early as the middle of the 17th century, starting as a bridle path through the woods and then a cart path. It was first laid out in 1700 by the Selectmen of Dorchester as a road "three rods wide" approximately 49.5 feet wide. In 1703 it is called "the road leading to Billings' in Sharon" which then becomes the "road to Rehobeth" by 1707. At various times it was called he "Country Road" or "Road leading to Rhode Island". It later becomes known as "the great road from Boston to Taunton" and by the early 1800's it was the "Great road" or the "Taunton road". All of this indecision ends in 1840 with a commemoration in the name of our first President and great Patriot the General George Washington. From Milton to the Sharon line our main thoroughfare becomes Washington Street.
Along the way were the famous taverns that provided rest for horses and men who would travel this road. Doty, Cherry Hill, and Cobb's to name just a few. This is a great image where the streets are not paved and "rapid transit" was genteel. Long lazy afternoons on the porch in the shade of the broad leafy trees. We look back upon a street that is over 350 years old and still our "Main Street".