Milton enjoys a dramatic physical location overlooking the Neponset River marshes and Boston skyline to the north and rising on the south to the height of Great Blue Hill (635 feet), the tallest elevation within ten miles of the ocean along the Atlantic coastline from Maine to Florida. Originally part of the Dorchester grant, Milton became a separate community in 1662. Although agriculture remained the principal focus of the Milton economy throughout much of its history, milling began along the Neponset River in the mid-seventeenth century. Often using Boston capital, manufacturers at both the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls of the Neponset produced gunpowder, iron, paper, and chocolate during the colonial period. At the head of the tidewater, Milton also became an important center for the transport and exchange of goods. Before the Revolution, wealthy Bostonians began to build country estates in Milton, especially overlooking the Neponset marshes.
The 1826 construction of the Granite Railroad from the Quincy granite quarries to Gulliver's Creek Wharf in Milton inaugurated an important new industry and established a workers' village in East Milton. Chocolate and paper production grew in scale in the nineteenth century. Throughout the early-nineteenth-century period of industrial expansion, Milton remained primarily an agricultural community. The opening of railway depots along the Neponset actually encouraged elite residential development from Lower Mills toward Academy and Wadsworth hills and from Mattapan along Brush Hill Road. From the late eighteenth century on, Great Blue Hill remained important, serving as the Borden Station, one of the key baseline landmarks for the first triangulation of the state in the 1830s through the setting aside of the Blue Hills Reservation as part of the Boston Metropolitan Park System in 1893. From 1915 through 1960, Milton continued to grow as an affluent suburb, as large estates were subdivided and the automobile highways, especially Route 128 (1931), facilitated growth. Subdivision of estates allow for some continued residential expansion.
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