Roxbury, one of the six original villages formed by the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1630, was the only town connected by a land bridge to the Boston peninsula. This land bridge became Washington Street, which in turn developed as the principal commercial street in both communities. Although Roxbury was incorporated into Boston in 1867, the intersection of Washington, Warren, and Dudley streets continued to develop as a distinct central business district. The centerpiece of this district is the Dudley Street Station, the southern terminus of the Boston Elevated Railroad (called the Orange Line), which extended from Charlestown through Boston to Roxbury. Alexander W. Longfellow designed the Dudley Street Station using copper, iron, and steel and topping the structure with fanciful ventilators. The ramps, southbound platform, and signal houses date from 1909 and were designed by Peabody and Stearns.
When the elevated Orange Line was demolished in the 1980s, the MBTA was committed to provide urban transit along the old route on Washington Street from Dudley to Boylston stations. This replacement service is the Silver Line (URS Corporation, engineer). Initial phases include the transformation of Washington Street to a thoroughfare for new advanced technological vehicles. Stations, shelters, and kiosks equipped with countdown time displays and satellite tracking (2002–, Antonio Di Mambro + Associates) at major intersections, specifically designed for these sixty-foot-long buses, provide seating, a degree of shelter, and schedule information. The route currently passes from Dudley Square to Chinatown, with intersections at Washington Street. Fourteen passenger stations have been created as part of the street's reconstruction. Each station is mounted on a 12 × 60–foot granite pavement; its overhanging curved canopy (36 feet long by 12 feet high) is supported by stainless steel columns and is furnished by a bench, kiosk, electronic signs, trash receptacle, and bicycle rack. The whole radiates a dynamic toughness, appropriate for its site and function. Extension of the line from South Station to the South Boston waterfront includes stops at the Court House, World Trade Center, Convention Center, and Logan Airport via a mile-long underground transit way. Long-range plans will link this surface line with tunnels in densely populated areas.