How High street was named.
One would like to know where and how High street got its name. The selectmen in 1829 undertook to legalize this name, but it probably had long borne the name, de facto. In earliest times there were only the Cradock buildings in the town pump region (but no High street and no bridge). These buildings had to be there for central administration of the governor's property, and on the nearest [p. 43] site to the only ford, which offered sufficient level space. There was no retaining wall or filling at the river; all was normal, unchanged by man. The earliest travellers west from the ford passed along the narrow path on the verge, just above high-water mark, and east bound ones along the gravel beach to the Cradock buildings. This was a ‘varge-way,’ just as New England country folks call it now. Maybe, when long ago, in some easterly storm and swirling tide, the varge-way could not be used, a potato cart struggled over the great bastion (or bluff of the hill) and its driver named it (and rightly, too, a high street or way) and the name held. We may well conclude that High street name owed its existence to our potato cart and its successors and not to the county of Middlesex.
In Woburn (settled by Edward Johnson and others as Charlestown village in 1640) the earliest streets, i.e., roads, were Up-street and Hilly-way. These settlers went thither, without doubt, via the ‘Ford at Mistick,’ the ‘Vargeway’ and Brooks' corner. Their Up-street was a gradual rise, and their Hilly-way a counterpart of the grades of Medford's high street.