Ansonia, Connecticut

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 (2010)
 • Total 19,249
 • 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 heavy machine manufacturing industry, which is 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 comprising the present Elm Street section of Ansonia and Derby Avenue section of Derby was first settled in 1652 and was originally a part of the township of Derby. In 1844, merchant and philanthropist Anson Green Phelps (1781–1853) wanted to expand the old borough of Birmingham (the present downtown of the city of Derby) up along the west side of the Naugatuck River. Since he was not able to purchase the land required from its owner, Anson Phelps acquired land along the east side of the river, which today is Ansonia's downtown section, in 1844. A canal was dug to power the factories and businesses in the new industrial village and named it "Ansonia". The name came about when Mr. Phelps wanted to call his new industrial village "Phelpsville" but found out there was another village in the region by that name. Under the suggestion of a friend, Phelps Latinized his first name, to create the name "Ansonia". Soon Ansonia became the most populous area of Derby and boasted many factories. The state chartered Ansonia as a borough of Derby in 1864 and amended it once again 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, thus 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.

Ansonia suffered grievous damage in the Great Flood of August 19, 1955, when massive rain from Hurricane Diane filled the Naugatuck River beyond its capacity. 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 the city. 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 took the place of blocks of destroyed homes and businesses on Broad Street now known as Olson Drive.

In the decades following the flood, Ansonia's Main Street fell into decline as retail shoppers decamped to the Ansonia Mall at one end of the street (now replaced by a Big Y supermarket) and for malls in nearby Milford, Trumbull, and Waterbury. In recent years, however, Main Street has perked up with the opening of several antique stores, a wine bar, a coffee shop, a Polish delicatessen, and other businesses.

Osman & Cheesman Factory (1907 postcard)

Ansonia hosted its own 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, in order to consolidate the Post's position as the region's main newspaper.

A non-profit, online-only news site named in honor of the Evening Sentinel, The Valley Independent Sentinel, 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 an appearance and brief address in front of City Hall, drawing thousands to downtown, many with transistor radios tuned to live reports on WADS of Senator Kennedy's progress towards Ansonia. President Kennedy would make a return visit on October 17, 1962, while on his way to Waterbury.

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, and his late arrival and truncated speech caused many residents to feel he had slighted their city.

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 replaced the empty lot and opened in July 2007. [1] 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, and 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 and was the site proposed by Texas company American Ref-Fuel for a solid waste-to-electric energy cogeneration plant in the early 1990s. 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. There are larger houses on larger plots 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. Developers have built residential housing on the former airport grounds. The Nike base is now a horse farm with riding stables holding just a few reminders of its former life.

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 and after World War II, it became the largest residential area of the city.

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

Windy Hill – A section of West Ansonia centered around Murray Street, May Street, and Francis Street. This area is typically encompassing the area 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 [2]
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 makes its home 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.

In recent years, much of the heavy industry moved out and 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, the popular international department store Target opened a store on 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 in the process of closing down federal housing projects on the West Side of town, where a large percentage of the crime in Ansonia is reported.

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, and maintains 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 provided ambulance and rescue services to the city. Also known as "A.R.M.S.", the service was founded in 1991 out of the old 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. "A.R.M.S." 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. A.R.M.S. is led by a chief, two assistant chiefs and a Board of Commissioners along with a paid day-time supervisor and volunteer captains and lieutenants. Ansonia Rescue Medical Service's headquarters is located on West Main Street.

Fire Department[edit]

The Ansonia Fire Department traces its history when it was established in 1871 by the then-borough of Ansonia government. On August 24, 1871 some prominent residents organized the borough's first fire company, which was planned to be named the Ansonia Fire Company No. 1. Shortly after the fire company's membership purchased a used four-wheel hose carriage that bore the name "Eagle Hose Co." and had the number "6" etched on the glass of the carriage's lanterns, the members decided it would cause too much damage to try and remove the name and number. As a result, the membership adopted the company's name as the Eagle Hose Company No. 6. In 1879, the borough purchased a hook and ladder truck for the company at which time the organization amended its name to the Eagle Hose & Hook & Ladder Company No. 6, which the organization has been known by since. Around 2005, the Eagle Hose began the restoration process of its prized parade carriage, built by William Williams in 1859, when it was discovered 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 painted as close to the original color scheme when it was originally built.

In 1875, residents in West Ansonia petitioned for powers of a fire association and 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 West Ansonia Hose Company changed its name to Fountain Hose Company No. 1 which the organization is still known by today. There is much speculation how the company adopted its current name. The two widely accepted stories are that it was named in honor of the Fountain Lake Water Company which serviced the area or because of the gift of a water fountain depicting a young girl and boy, which was presented to the company sometime around its organization.

From their organization to 1894, both fire companies continued to operate separately though 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 a town, the current street box fire alarm notification system was installed on the east side with the West Ansonia Fire District purchasing a few fire alarm boxes for their district to be tied into the system. In 1893, Ansonia was chartered a city thus consolidating the separate town and borough governments. With this, in 1894 the West Ansonia Fire District was merged into the Ansonia Fire Department, thus the Eagle Hose and Fountain Hose were now under the same board of fire commissioners and fire chiefs. Also with this merger, both companies kept their traditional incorporated names and numbers despite the Eagle Hose being organized five years prior to the organization of the Fountain Hose. The three other present 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][7]

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 F.M.O. operates an investigation truck and a staff vehicle and the F.A.S. operates a utility bucket truck(which is also utilized 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.[8]

Landmarks[edit]

Christ Episcopal Church (1896), Henry Martyn Congdon, architect.[9]

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.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]