1511, perhaps from hubbe, originally "lump," the source of hob of a fireplace and hobnail, as in boots. A wheelwright's word, not generally known or used until c.1828; it reached wider currency in connection with bicycles. Meaning "center of interest or activity or importance" first recorded 1858 in writings of Oliver W. Holmes.
"Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system." [O.W. Holmes, "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table"]