Ansonia, Connecticut

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Ansonia, Connecticut
City
Flag of Ansonia, Connecticut
Flag
Official seal of Ansonia, Connecticut
Seal
Nickname(s): Copper City
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°20′36″N 73°04′07″W / 41.34333°N 73.06861°W / 41.34333; -73.06861Coordinates: 41°20′36″N 73°04′07″W / 41.34333°N 73.06861°W / 41.34333; -73.06861
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Bridgeport-Stamford
Region The Naugatuck Valley
Incorporated (town) 1889
Incorporated (city) 1893
Government
 • Type Mayor-Board of Aldermen
 • Mayor David S. Cassetti
Area
 • Total 6.2 sq mi (16.1 km2)
 • Land 6.0 sq mi (15.6 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.4 km2)
Elevation 82 ft (25 m)
Population (2012)
 • Total 19,158
 • Density 3,100/sq mi (1,200/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06401
Area code(s) 203
FIPS code 09-01150
GNIS feature ID 0205107
Website www.cityofansonia.com

Ansonia is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, on the Naugatuck River, immediately north of Derby, and about 12 miles (19 km) northwest of New Haven. The population was 19,249 at the 2010 census.[1] The ZIP code for Ansonia is 06401. The city is served by the Metro-North Railroad. Ansonia Station is a stop on the railroad passenger commuter service's Waterbury line, connecting to New York's Grand Central Terminal. Ansonia also is served by the Connecticut Transit bus carrier. Connecticut Route 8 serves Ansonia.

Ansonia, also referred to as "The Copper City", is recognized for its history of heavy machine manufacturing industry in the lower Naugatuck Valley. Production includes copper, brass, rubber and plastics processing, molding and tubing, iron castings, sheet metal, electric, automatic screw machine, textiles, and foundry products. The well-known Ansonia Clock Company was founded here in 1851.

Ansonia is the birthplace of American Revolutionary War colonel and diplomat David Humphreys. The city's devotion to its high school football team, the Ansonia Chargers, is legendary. Originally known as "The Lavender", the Chargers' annual game against arch-rival Naugatuck, on Thanksgiving morning, is one of the more significant events of the year for the two cities.

History[edit]

The area along the Naugatuck River, comprising the present Elm Street section of Ansonia and Derby Avenue section of Derby, was first settled by English colonists in 1652; it was originally a part of the township of Derby. Early settlers developed subsistence farming, and used the river for sawmills and gristmills.

In 1844, Anson Green Phelps (1781–1853), a merchant and philanthropist, wanted to expand the old borough of Birmingham (the present downtown of the city of Derby) to the north along the west side of the Naugatuck River to enable industrial development. Unable to purchase the land from its owner, in 1844 Phelps acquired land along the east side of the river; today this is Ansonia's downtown section. A canal was dug for river power to drive the factories and businesses in the new industrial village, which Phelps named "Ansonia". He wanted to name the industrial village as "Phelpsville," but learned there was another village in the region by that name. As suggested by a friend, Phelps Latinized his first name to create the name "Ansonia".

As industry developed, soon Ansonia became the most populous area of Derby, boasting many factories. The state chartered Ansonia as a borough of Derby in 1864 and amended it in 1871, granting full municipal privileges. In 1888, a petition was circulated in the borough of Ansonia for the purpose of becoming a separate township from Derby. In 1889 the State General Assembly granted the separation, constituting the Borough, Hilltop, West Ansonia, and Elm Street areas as a separate town known as Ansonia. This was the 168th township in the state of Connecticut. In 1893, Ansonia was incorporated as a city, consolidating with the coterminous Town and the old borough.

20th century to present[edit]

Ansonia suffered grievous damage in the Flood of 1955 on August 19, when the Naugatuck River flooded due to heavy rain from Hurricane Diane. Submerging the land along the river, the flood destroyed many houses and businesses. The high river waters swept away Maple Street Bridge, one of two bridges linking the east and west sides of Ansonia. After the inundation, the authorities erected a flood wall along the east bank of the river to protect the city's factories and Main Street. On the west bank, federal public housing was built to replace blocks of destroyed homes and businesses on Broad Street, now known as Olson Drive.

In the decades following the flood and suburbanization, Ansonia's Main Street fell into decline as retail shoppers decamped to the Ansonia Mall at its far end. (This has been replaced by a Big Y supermarket.) Later other malls attracted shoppers to nearby Milford, Trumbull, and Waterbury. Since the late 20th century, Main Street has been enlivened by he opening of several antique stores, a wine bar, a coffee shop, a Polish delicatessen, and other retail businesses.

Osman & Cheesman Factory (1907 postcard)

Ansonia had a daily newspaper, the Evening Sentinel, which enjoyed a wide readership throughout the Naugatuck Valley. However, the parent company of the Connecticut Post bought the Sentinel in the 1980s and quickly closed it, despite promises not to do so. It wanted to consolidate the position of the Post as the region's main newspaper. To provide an alternative, a non-profit, online-only news site, named The Valley Independent Sentinel in honor of the historic paper, has been organized and launched June 22, 2009.

In the early morning hours of November 6, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign motorcade stopped on its way to Waterbury for the candidate to make an appearance and brief address in front of City Hall. He drew thousands to downtown, many with transistor radios tuned to live reports on WADS of Senator Kennedy's progress towards Ansonia. President Kennedy returned to Ansonia on October 17, 1962, while on his way to Waterbury.[citation needed]

President George H. W. Bush paid a visit to Ansonia by helicopter during the 1992 presidential election campaign. He was running far behind schedule due to severe weather damage to a large area of New Jersey. He arrived late and delivered a truncated speech, causing many residents to feel he had slighted their city.[citation needed]

In 2000, the Lower Naugatuck Valley, which includes Ansonia, was named an "All America City" by the National Civic League.[2]

Rubber plant fire[edit]

In May 2001, a wind-driven fire destroyed the Latex Foam Company building, a very large rubber plant along the Naugatuck River in downtown Ansonia. The fire gutted the 284,000-square-foot (26,400 m2) building, which was the workplace of 250 people. Firefighters from multiple counties fought the fire tirelessly for five days. Lingering clouds of foul-smelling smoke spread over the city and nearby communities, and chemical runoff produced by the fire unbalanced the ecosystem of the nearby river. A Target store was constructed on the empty lot, opening in July 2007. [2] Following the fire, the Latex Foam Company purchased a vacant plant off Route 110 in nearby Shelton and resumed production.

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.2 square miles (16.0 km2), of which 6.0 square miles (15.6 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 2.72%, is water. The city is bisected by the Naugatuck River and spreads out from the river's banks up the hills – some quite steep – of the river valley. On the west side of the river, the city abuts Derby and Seymour along Silver Hill. On the east side, the city's Hilltop neighborhood meets Woodbridge.

The land along the river is mostly given over to factory sites (both operational and defunct), with an area of wooded land on the west bank close to the city's northern boundary that belongs to the American Brass Company. In the early 1990s, this site was proposed by Texas company American Ref-Fuel for a solid waste-to-electric energy cogeneration plant. The proposal was controversial, and protests by residents resulted in its defeat.

Residential housing occupies most of the land in Ansonia, chiefly one- or two-family houses on plots of an acre or less. Larger houses on larger plots are found in the Hilltop neighborhood. The Ansonia Nature Center on Hilltop preserves some open fields and woodlands and is a favorite for school trips.

An airport once operated on Hilltop, at the eastern edge of the city. During the Cold War, the United States military deployed Nike missiles in silos at the airport. Since the military released the airport grounds for other uses, developers have built residential housing there. The Nike base is now adapted as a horse farm with riding stables; few reminders of its former operations remain.

Neighborhoods[edit]

Downtown – The original industrial village and later borough of Ansonia. Includes the area stretching between the factories at the north side of down town to the newer shopping plazas on the south side of downtown (Big Y, Target, etc.)

Library District – The neighborhood surrounding the Ansonia Library. Just east of downtown on top of the cliff. Includes the residential neighborhood between State Street and Beaver Street including South Cliff Street, North Cliff Street, Mott Street and Cottage Avenue. Contains mostly single-family historic Queen Anne Victorian homes. While now predominantly middle class, this area was settled early in Ansonia's history and was once home to many of the wealthy industrial families of Ansonia.

North End – The area comprising the North Main Street corridor stretching from Downtown town to the Seymour town line.

Derby Hill – The area surrounding the Elm Street and Jewett Street area on the east side. Elm Street is also the town's historic district and was part of the original 1654 settlement of Derby. The name of this section of the town is sometimes disputed.

Hilltop – The area of the city that comprises the area of Prindle Avenue, Pulaski Highway and Ford Street corridors. This section was mainly farm land in the early days of the town. After World War II, it was developed as the largest residential area of the city.

West Ansonia – The residential village that comprised the west side of the Naugatuck River across from Ansonia (downtown). The original West Ansonia neighborhood consisted of High, Maple, and Jersey streets (the latter known today as Olson Drive), and later its name was synonymous with the entire present west side of the city.

Windy Hill – A section of West Ansonia centered around Murray, May, and Francis street. This area is considered to encompass the territory from the Derby town line to Grove Street.

Silver Hill – The section of West Ansonia along the Silver Hill Road corridor. Parts of this section are shared with Derby.

Demographics[edit]

Historical
population
of Ansonia [3]
1890 10,342
1900 12,681
1910 15,152
1920 17,643
1930 19,898
1940 19,210
1950 18,706
1960 19,819
1970 21,160
1980 19,039
1990 18,403
2000 18,554
2010 19,249

As of the 2010 census the population of Ansonia was 19,249. The racial composition of the population was 77.6% white, 11.6% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 5.3% reporting some other race and 3.2% from two or more race. 16.7% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.[3]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 18,554 people, 7,507 households, and 4,977 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,076.3 people per square mile (1,188.0/km2). There were 7,937 housing units at an average density of 1,316.0 per square mile (508.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 85.52% White, 8.42% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 1.13% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.22% from other races, and 2.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.42% of the population.

There were 7,507 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 28.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,026, and the median income for a family was $53,718. Males had a median income of $30,747 versus $28,517 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,504. About 6.2% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.3% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.

Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 25, 2005[5]
Party Active voters Inactive voters Total voters Percentage
  Democratic 3,846 152 3,998 37.85%
  Republican 1,324 86 1,410 13.35%
  Unaffiliated 4,826 322 5,148 48.74%
  Minor parties 7 0 7 0.07%
Total 10,003 560 10,563 100%

Minor party affiliations include members of the Concerned Citizens Party and the Green Party.

Economy[edit]

The city has manufacturers of heavy machinery, electric supplies, brass and copper products, and silk goods. Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, Seymour, and Beacon Falls form one of the most important industrial communities in the state. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Theodore H. White referred to the Naugatuck Valley "as the seedbed of Yankee ingenuity" in his work The Making of the President, 1960. The city hosts the world headquarters of the Farrel Corporation, a leading producer of plastics and rubber processing equipment including the Banbury International Mixer. Ansonia Copper & Brass, which supplies metal rod, wire and tube products to manufacturers of finished commercial products, also is located in the city.

The highly successful Ansonia Clock Company had its start manufacturing Ansonia clocks in the city in 1851. The company moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1878 but retained its home city's name.

Since the late 20th century, much of the heavy industry has moved out, with jobs going overseas. The former factories sat vacant. In the late 1980s the city began development of the Fountain Lake Commerce Park in the northwest border. It houses Spectrum Plastics and Homa Pump Co. In 2007 work was to begin by R.D. Scinto Inc. owned by Robert Scinto to further develop the park with a 400,000 sq ft (37,000 m2) office building.

Starting in 2002, city authorities and residents began a revitalization of the downtown area. Two large regional clothing retailers, Marshalls and Bob's, opened stores there in 2006. In 2007, Target, an international department store, constructed a new store at the former Latex Foam Company site (see "Rubber Plant Fire" above). In 2009, the Coca-Cola Freestyle was launched in the Ansonia Duchess restaurant. It was the first Freestyle machine in the world to be launched.

As a result of economic growth and plentiful employment in southwestern Connecticut, driven by corporate relocations from the New York City and Fairfield County metropolitan areas to nearby towns, Ansonia's housing market improved in the early 2000s. On the preferred East Side of the city, the average home price climbed almost 20% in the period from 2001 to 2006. Authorities are closing down federal housing projects on the West Side of town, in favor of a mixture of market-rate housing. There have been many changes in policy related to public housing. Due to a concentration of poverty in this area, it suffered a large percentage of the crime in Ansonia.

Transportation[edit]

Ansonia is a station stop on the Waterbury Branch of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Metro-North Railroad system. Trains on the Waterbury Branch run from Waterbury in the north to Bridgeport in the south, allowing Ansonia residents access to New York City via transfer to the main line at Bridgeport. Travel time from Ansonia to Grand Central Terminal in New York City is approximately two hours. Ansonia is also served by buses of the F route of Connecticut Transit New Haven, connecting the city to New Haven.

Public safety[edit]

Ansonia is protected by three municipal public safety agencies. It operates an Office of Emergency Management based out of City Hall and the A.R.M.S building on West Main Street.

Emergency medical services[edit]

The Ansonia Rescue Medical Service provides ambulance and rescue services to the city. Also known as "A.R.M.S.", the service was founded in 1991, derived from the former Ansonia Civil Defense Administration. ARMS operates three ambulances, a first responder vehicle, a rescue truck, an air and lighting vehicle, a mass casualty response truck, as well as a number of support and lighting trailers. The organization is composed of volunteer and part-time paid personnel to operate the ambulances. ARMS is part of the South Central Regional Emergency Communications System (C-MED New Haven) and provides mutual aid assistance to surrounding communities when the need is requested. ARMS is led by a chief, two assistant chiefs and a Board of Commissioners; it staffs a paid day-time supervisor and volunteer captains and lieutenants. ARMS' headquarters is located on West Main Street.

Fire Department[edit]

The Ansonia Fire Department traces its history to its founding in 1871 by the then-borough of Ansonia government. On August 24, 1871 some prominent residents organized the borough's first fire company, to be named the Ansonia Fire Company No. 1. Shortly after, the fire company purchased a used four-wheel hose carriage, which bore the name "Eagle Hose Co." and had the number "6" etched on the glass of the carriage's lanterns. The company members decided it would cause too much damage to try and remove the name and number. As a result, the membership named the company as the Eagle Hose Company No. 6. In 1879, the borough purchased a hook and ladder truck for the fire company, at which time it amended its name to the Eagle Hose & Hook & Ladder Company No. 6. This is its formal name.

Around 2005, the Eagle Hose began to restore its prized parade carriage, built by William Williams in 1859. It learned that the carriage was the last working fire hose wagon of the Eagle Hose Company No. 1 of the old New York City Volunteer Fire Department. The hose carriage was restored to its original color scheme when first built.

In 1875, residents in West Ansonia petitioned for powers of a fire association. The Connecticut General Assembly granted a charter establishing the West Ansonia Fire District, in the Town of Derby. On February 12, 1876 the West Ansonia Hose Company No. 1 was formally organized by the fire district. Shortly after its organization, the Company changed its name to Fountain Hose Company No. 1, which it is still known by today. Two widely accepted stories of the name's origin are 1) that it was named in honor of the Fountain Lake Water Company, which serviced the area; or in honor of the gift of a water fountain depicting a young girl and boy, which was presented to the company at the time of its organization.

From their organization to 1894, the two companies operated independently although working close together. When Ansonia became a separate Town from Derby in 1889, the two fire departments continued to operate separately. The Borough of Ansonia financed the Eagle Hose, while the West Ansonia Fire District financed the Fountain Hose. Shortly after Ansonia was incorporated as a Town, the current street box fire alarm notification system was installed on the east side. The West Ansonia Fire District purchased a few fire alarm boxes for their district to be tied into the system.

In 1893, Ansonia was chartered as a city; it consolidated the separate Town and borough governments. With this, in 1894 the West Ansonia Fire District was merged into the Ansonia Fire Department. The Eagle Hose and Fountain Hose have been under the same board of fire commissioners and fire chiefs, while the companies kept their traditional incorporated names and numbers. The three other fire companies were organized after Ansonia was incorporated a city.

The Ansonia Fire Department is currently composed of five all-volunteer fire companies operating out of five fire stations. Each volunteer fire company is commanded by a Captain and two or three Lieutenants (depending on the company). The A.F.D. is commanded by a Chief of Department and four Assistant Chiefs and governed by a Board of Fire Commissioners. The Ansonia Fire Department operates a fire apparatus fleet consisting of five engines, one tower-ladder ruck, one rescue-squad truck, a utility unit along with several other support units. The current Chief of Department is Joseph Kingston.[6]

The Ansonia Fire Department also has an Office of the Fire Marshal and a Fire Alarm Superintendent Division (which maintains the street box alarm notification system). The FMO operates an investigation truck and a staff vehicle, and the FAS operates a utility bucket truck (which is also used by the Public Works Department).

Below is a complete listing of all fire station locations and apparatus in Ansonia.

Fire Company Engine Company Truck Company Special Unit Address
Fountain Hose Co. 1 - Org. 1876 Engine 1 191 Howard Ave.
Webster Hose Hook & Ladder Co. 3 - Org. 1897 Engine 3 Squad 9 67 Platt St.
Charters Hose Co. 4 - Org. 1909 Engine 4 4 Murray St.
Hilltop Hose Co. 5 - Org. 1956 Engine 5 Haz-Mat. 2 80 Pulaski Hwy.
Eagle Hose & Hook & Ladder Co. 6 - Org. 1871 Engine 6 Truck 7 1 Main St.

Police department[edit]

The Ansonia Police Department was founded around 1880 when Ansonia was a borough in the Town of Derby and Daniel Hayes was appointed the first police chief of the department. Chief Hayes died in 1882 after he succumbed to his injuries day after when he was shot while making an arrest. The Police Department has 42 sworn officers and 12 civilian personnel. The Police Department is split between the patrol and detective divisions. The Police Department headquarters is located on Elm Street.[7]

Landmarks[edit]

Christ Episcopal Church (1896), Henry Martyn Congdon, architect.[8]

In addition to the Farrel Corporation and Ansonia Copper & Brass facilities along the banks of the Naugatuck River in the center of the city, Ansonia's landmarks include its public library, YMCA, National Guard Armory and many Victorian and Queen Anne houses. The prominent Ansonia Opera House is the oldest opera house in Connecticut built in 1870.

Ansonia is noted for its many churches, including those forming five Catholic parishes, each historically associated with a particular ethnic group: Saint Joseph (Polish), Holy Rosary (Italian), Saint Anthony (Lithuanian; now combined with Holy Rosary), Our Lady of the Assumption (Irish), and Saints Peter and Paul (Ukrainian). There are also Congregationalist, Methodist, Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Pentecostal, and other Christian denominations. The region's Sikh community had a gurdwara (temple) in one of the buildings on Main Street until an accidental fire burned it down.

In the mid-1930s, after its original high school burned down, Ansonia residents decided to build a new one on Howard Avenue. This is notable in that the building was designed by William Lescaze, one of the pioneers of modernism in American architecture, who was primarily known for his work in the Philadelphia area. When it opened in 1936, it was one of the first "modern" high school buildings in the country, and was, for its time, quite unique. By comparison, nearby Hamden High School was built at about the same time in a traditional, colonial design.[citation needed] Today the former high school is now the Ansonia Middle School.

Notable people[edit]

On the National Register of Historic Places[edit]

Ansonia Library (1892), George Keller, architect.

Pictures[edit]

Climate[edit]

The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Ansonia has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Ansonia city, Connecticut". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ City of Ansonia, Official Website
  3. ^ 2010 chart of race and Hispanic or Latino by place for Connecticut from the US Census
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 29, 2008" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ http://www.cityofansonia.com
  8. ^ Christ Episcopal Church
  9. ^ Climate Summary for Ansonia, Connecticut

External links[edit]