Torrington, Connecticut

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Torrington, Connecticut
City
Official seal of Torrington, Connecticut
Seal
Location within Litchfield County, Connecticut
Location within Litchfield County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°48′N 73°07′W / 41.800°N 73.117°W / 41.800; -73.117Coordinates: 41°48′N 73°07′W / 41.800°N 73.117°W / 41.800; -73.117
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Torrington
Region Litchfield Hills
Incorporated (town) 1740
Incorporated (city) 1923
Government
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Mayor Elinor Carbone
Area
 • Total 40.4 sq mi (104.6 km2)
 • Land 39.8 sq mi (103.1 km2)
 • Water 0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
Elevation 541 ft (165 m)
Population (2005)
 • Total 35,995
 • Density 904/sq mi (349/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06790, 06791
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-76500
GNIS feature ID 0211514
Website http://www.torringtonct.org/

Torrington is the largest city in Litchfield County, Connecticut and the Litchfield Hills region. It is also the core city of the largest micropolitan area in the United States.[1] The city population was 36,383 according to the 2010 census.

Torrington is a former mill town, as are most other towns along the Naugatuck River Valley. It is currently competing with the neighboring city of Winsted to re-create a pleasant Main Street environment. Downtown Torrington is home to the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, which trains ballet dancers and whose Company performs in the Warner Theatre, a 1,700 seat auditorium built in 1931 as a cinema by the Warner Brothers film studio. Downtown Torrington also hosts the largest Lodge of Elks in New England. Elks Lodge #372 supports many community activities and events.

Torrington has two radio stations, WAPJ 89.9 FM, operated by the non-profit Torrington Community Radio Foundation, and WSNG 610 AM, owned by Buckley Broadcasting.

There is a University of Connecticut regional campus in Torrington. The 100 acre campus is located in a quiet rural setting on the western outskirts of the city, and consists of the M. Adela Eads Classroom Building and the Litchfield County Cooperative Extension Service Building.

Torrington has two daily newspapers. The "Republican-American," which circulates a Litchfield County edition and has a bureau on Franklin Street, andThe Register Citizen, a Journal Register Company publication that serves Torrington and Winsted, in addition to most of the Northwest Corner. Charlotte Hungerford Hospital has also developed into an important health care resource for the area. In 2008, Torrington was named by Bizjournals as the number one "Dreamtown" (micropolitan statistical area) out of ten in the United States to live in.[2]

History[edit]

Torrington, originally Wolcottville, was first settled in 1735 by Ebenezer Lyman, Jr., of Durham, Connecticut.[3] Its early settlers resided on the hills west of the Naugatuck River where the first school, church, store, and tavern were constructed. Later, the eastern hill known as Torringford was settled, as it provided the best farmland. Torrington was given permission to organize a government and incorporate as a town in October 1740.

The fast moving waters of the Naugatuck River were used to power early nineteenth-century industries. Industrial growth skyrocketed when Frederick Wolcott constructed a woolen mill in 1813. The mill attracted a large workforce and created demands for goods, services, and housing.

From a postcard sent in 1906

Israel Coe and Erastus Hodges began the construction of two brass mills on the Naugatuck River in 1834. This event sparked the beginning of the brass industry in Torrington, which later would spread throughout the entire Naugatuck Valley. In 1849, the Naugatuck Valley railroad was completed, connecting Torrington with other population centers, ending its isolation, and stimulating further industrial growth. Soon, Torrington was producing a variety of metal products, including needles, brass, hardware, bicycles, and tacks. Torrington's growing industrial plants attracted English, Irish, and German immigrants throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Between 1880 and 1920, Torrington's population exploded from 3,000 to 22,000 as immigration from southern and eastern Europe increased; most immigrants during this period were Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Italians. Torrington was chartered as a city in 1923.

In 1955, a massive flood destroyed much of the downtown area and other property in the region when Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane caused local rivers to overflow. Torrington is home to several state parks, one of which is the very popular Burr Pond State Park. In 1851, Milo Burr placed a dam across the confluence of several mountain streams impounding water for power. The tannery and three active sawmills erected downstream consumed the finest pines and oaks for miles around to meet the needs of lumber production. The clearings became homesites, and Connecticut's industrial leadership was further strengthened. Burr Pond was designated as a state park in 1949. The pond itself has several small inlets and islands. The shore is rocky and there are deep drop-offs in several places, but the pond only has a maximum depth of thirteen feet. Fish species present include largemouth bass, chain pickerel, black crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and brown bullhead. Gail Borden, discoverer of the process of milk preservation by evaporation and condensation, built the world's first condensed milk factory here, in 1857. The new milk product proved to be of great value, particularly to the Union Army during the Civil War. Fire destroyed the mill in 1877. A bronze tablet marks its site, just below the falls.

Torrington is the birthplace of abolitionist John Brown.

Geography[edit]

Historical
population of
Torrington
[3]
1756 250
1774 845
1782 1,077
1790
1800 1,417
1810 1,586
1820 1,449
1830 1,651
1840 1,707
1850 1,916
1860 2,278
1870 2,893
1880 3,327
1890 6,048
1900 12,453
1910 16,840
1920 22,055
1930 26,040
1940 26,988
1950 27,820
1960 30,045
1970 31,952
1980 30,987
1990 33,687
2000 35,202
2002 35,655
(est.)[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 40.4 square miles (104.6 km²). Approximately 39.8 square miles (103.1 km²) of it is land and 1.5 km² (0.6 sq mi or 1.41%) of it is water.

The eastern and western sides of the city, at its borders, are at the tops of peaks, while the downtown and central sections of the city are in the Naugatuck River Valley. This provides some interesting views from the higher locations, with the city lights as a backdrop below. Due to the lack of suitable highways and bypass routes in an East/West direction, crossing the city requires driving down into the valley and back up the other side.

Principal communities[edit]

Demographics[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 35,202 people, 14,743 households, and 9,125 families residing in the city. The population density was 884.7 people per square mile (341.6/km²). There were 16,147 housing units at an average density of 405.8 per square mile (156.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.03% White, 2.15% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 1.83% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.31% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.30% of the population.

There were 14,743 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.7% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,841, and the median income for a family was $54,375. Males had a median income of $37,702 versus $28,418 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,406.

Downtown redevelopment[edit]

Torrington is planning to revitalize its downtown area in an effort to attract residents and visitors to the city's shopping and cultural opportunities. These redevelopment plans are still in discussion and are not yet completed. The City of Torrington will receive $500,000 for improvements and streetscape enhancements to Torrington’s Main Street and downtown. The grant, which will flow through the state, will be designated for downtown improvements on the east side of Main Street and will include, among other enhancements, new sidewalks. A $750,000 grant for downtown improvements secured earlier in 2012 for the west side of Main Street will make similar improvements.

The following ideas have been discussed:

Coe Memorial Park restoration[edit]

The historic restoration and renovation to downtown Coe Memorial Park were completed in the beginning of 2004. The Coe Memorial Park Subcommittee and the City of Torrington, worked closely with Ferrero Hixon Associates, to restore the Park to a Victorian walking park, much as it was when it was first gifted to the Town in 1906. These renovations included new sidewalks and paths, and the relocation of memorials and monuments. In 2005, award winning horticulturist, Gwenythe B. Harvey, owner of the firm The Garden Goddess, LLC, was hired to redefine, design and upgrade existing garden areas. Coe Memorial Park's Botanical Gardens has since become a well-known tourist destination.[5]

Retail expansion[edit]

Torrington hopes to attract a wide variety of merchants into its downtown setting. Empty and abandoned buildings would be converted into a mix of retail, office, and residential space. A potential plan discusses the possibility of a national clothing retailer or bookstore chain constructing a location at the top of Water Street on the site of the Kelley Bus Company. This plan had come under fire by some because it involves the demolition of the former Torrington railroad station, which is considered by many to be historical. Despite this, the 113 year old former Torrington railroad station was demolished, as a safety hazard, on January 4, 2011. The historical society was able to save a few pieces, including the ticket window and some of the terra-cotta ornaments from the outside of the building. A Big Y supermarket and a Lowe's Home Improvement store opened in the summer of 2009 on Winsted Road.

Accessibility[edit]

A parking garage is slated to be constructed in the heart of downtown on either Main Street or Water Street. The municipal parking lot next to the Torrington Library would also serve as a downtown parking area. Because the downtown redevelopment project emphasizes pedestrian access, brick sidewalks lined with trees, benches, and bike racks would be constructed along Main Street.[6]

Roads and traffic[edit]

To relieve congestion, the city plans to convert the Main Street/Water Street/East Main Street downtown intersection into a "+" shape, rather than its current criticized setup. The city expects to convert Main Street into a one-way road with parking lining one side of the street. The neighboring Prospect Street would also be converted into a one-way road with traffic flowing in the opposite direction. Most of the roads are in medium to poor condition and filled with pot holes.[7]

Main Street Marketplace[edit]

Main Street Marketplace (MSMP) was created in 2009 by founders Steve Criss, Rose Ponte, Jessica Hodorski and the 2009 ACT Commissioners. The original idea for MSMP was to create an event to bring families together downtown to support the local merchants. Since 2009, MSMP brings in about 3,000 visitors a night, has 40-45 exhibitors, 15-20 food vendors, non-profit exhibitors, and a variety of different types of performers every night. [8] It is an 8 week event that runs consecutively during the summer on Thursday nights from 5 to 9 o'clock. Main Street is shut down and the marketplace extends from Water Street to Alvord Street.

City financial report (2004)[edit]

The City of Torrington typically collects 100% of taxes owed through the use of private tax collectors.

The 2004 General Fund budgetary fund balance was $5.8 million. The City has bonded debt outstanding of $36.8 million for governmental activities and $4.2 million for business type (WPCA). All current outstanding bonded debt will be retired by the year 2021 (current estimate).

Torrington's bond rating is A1.

In 2004, total revenue was $88,444,157: Property Taxes (64.40%), Board of Education Grants (23.44%), Federal & State Grants (7.06%), General Government (3.67%), Public Safety (0.64%), Public Works (0.53%), Invest Income (0.26%), and Recreation (0.01%).

Total expenditures and encumbrances were $88,679,873: Board of Education (53.41%), Public Safety (12.97%), Pension & Miscellaneous (10.58%), Public Works (8.34%), Debt Services (7.69%), General Government (3.49%), Public Health & Social Services (1.99%), Operating Transfers Out (0.85%), Recreation (0.40%), Second Part Budget (0.29%).

Crime and law enforcement[edit]

The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBI in 2003 was 139. The number of homicides was 0. The violent crime rate was 3.9 per 1,000 people.

In 1985, Torrington's Police Department lost a major lawsuit filed by Tracey Thurman, after Thurman was nearly killed in 1983 by her estranged husband Charles "Buck" Thurman. The abuse, attempted murder and lawsuit was later depicted in a 1989 made-for-TV movie A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, starring Nancy McKeon.

2013 rape case[edit]

In March 2013, Torrington received national notoriety for a statutory rape case involving three teen-aged boys accused of sexually assaulting two 13 year old girls.[9] Joan Toribio and Edgar Gonzalez, both 18, were among the accused. Both are popular high school football players. The third male, underage himself, was not named. Several dozen Torrington High School students rallied around the accused and aggressively bullied the victims online.[10] One of the victims was called a “whore” on her Facebook page and blamed for "ruining the lives" of the accused. Despite receiving national criticism, Torrington High School students continued to use social media to support the defendants posting online photos while diminishing the validity and severity of the victim’s claims.[11]

Transportation[edit]

Three primary state highways meet in downtown Torrington: Route 8, Route 4, and Route 202. Other major roads include Route 183 and Route 272. The city is served by buses of the Northwestern Connecticut Transit District.[12]

Sports teams/events[edit]

Baseball

The Torrington Titans play in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England. They played their inaugural season in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, a collegiate summer baseball league. After leading the ACBL in attendance in 2010, the team was sold to the Carminucci Sports Group (CSG), which transferred their affiliation to the Futures League. CSG owns both the Brockton Rox of the professional Can-Am League, and fellow Futures League affiliate the Martha's Vineyard Sharks. The Titans play their home games at Fuessenich Park.

In 2009, an organization called Our Baseball Haven, introduced a unique concept and proposal through which a collegiate baseball team could once again call Torrington its home. The concept, called "crowdsourcing" was supported by some five hundred individuals and the Peekskill (NY) Robins of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) were moved to Torrington and their name changed to the Torrington Titans. The Titans capped their successful 2010 inaugural season by winning the Kaiser Division.

The Torrington Twisters were a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) from 1997-2008. Torrington twice played host to the league All-Star Game (1998, 2008) and generally placed high in their division each season. The organization shipped out in the middle of the night to Massachusetts in 2008 leaving bitter feelings by the community with both the NECBL and the ownership group.

A professional baseball team once located in the city was known as the Torrington Braves, and were a member of the Colonial League. After just one season, 1950, they disbanded.

Running

The Torrington Road Race is a five-mile (8 km) run, which coincides with Donor's Week in August. Starting at Coe Memorial Park, the course extends to the farther reaches of the valley, including Riverside Avenue, Migeon Avenue, Prospect Street and others. The race, which started in 1972, primarily includes runners from around Connecticut and has also attracted some runners each year from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

High School Sports

In 2006, the Torrington High School Men's Basketball team captured their first Connecticut State Championship since 1944, beating rival high school Holy Cross of Waterbury. Anthony (Tony) Turina was the teams head coach.

On the National Register of Historic Places[edit]

The Warner Theatre in Torrington, CT.

Notable people[edit]

Climate[edit]

This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Torrington has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.[14]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Railroad station, about 1907