Derby, Connecticut

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Derby, Connecticut
Annual fireworks display from the Derby-Shelton Bridge
Annual fireworks display from the Derby-Shelton Bridge
Official seal of Derby, Connecticut
Motto: "Connecticut's Smallest City"[1]
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°19′36″N 73°04′56″W / 41.32667°N 73.08222°W / 41.32667; -73.08222Coordinates: 41°19′36″N 73°04′56″W / 41.32667°N 73.08222°W / 41.32667; -73.08222
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Bridgeport-Stamford
Region The Valley
Named 1675
Incorporated (town) 1775
Incorporated (city) 1893
 • Type Mayor-Board of aldermen
 • Mayor Dr. Anita Dugatto (D)
 • Chief administrator Philip Robertson
 • Total 5.4 sq mi (14.0 km2)
 • Land 5.0 sq mi (12.9 km2)
 • Water 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2)
Elevation 102 ft (31 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 12,902
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 12,631
 • Density 2,400/sq mi (920/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06418
Area code(s) 203
FIPS code 09-19480
GNIS feature ID 0206671

Derby is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 12,903 at the 2010 census. It is the smallest consolidated city of Connecticut by area and population.[3]


Derby, ca. 1910

Derby was settled in 1642 as an Indian trading post under the name Paugasset. It was named after Derby, England, in 1675.[4][5]

Derby was incorporated on May 13, 1775.[6]

In the 19th century, both corsets and hoop skirts were manufactured in the city.

In 1872, the Derby Silver Company began production. In 1898, the company became a division of the International Silver Company headquartered in Meriden, CT, but continued making silver with its brand name until 1933.[7][8][9]

Charlton Comics, a comic book publishing company that existed from 1944 to 1986, was based in town.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.4 square miles (8.7 km2), of which, 5.0 square miles (13 km2) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) of it (7.41%) is water. The city is home to the 1.4 square kilometres (350 acres) Osbornedale State Park. Derby is divided into two main sections by the Naugatuck River: East Derby and Derby Center (Birmingham). The center of Derby is approximately 66 miles (106 km) from New York City.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,994
1800 1,878 −37.3%
1810 2,051 9.2%
1820 2,088 1.8%
1830 2,253 7.9%
1840 2,851 26.5%
1850 3,824 34.1%
1860 5,443 42.3%
1870 2,103 −61.4%
1880 3,026 43.9%
1890 4,413 45.8%
1900 7,930 79.7%
1910 8,991 13.4%
1920 11,238 25.0%
1930 10,788 −4.0%
1940 10,287 −4.6%
1950 10,259 −0.3%
1960 12,132 18.3%
1970 12,599 3.8%
1980 12,346 −2.0%
1990 12,199 −1.2%
2000 12,391 1.6%
2010 12,902 4.1%
Est. 2016 12,631 [2] −2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 12,391 people, 5,252 households, and 3,245 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,487.6 people per square mile (960.7/km2). There were 5,568 housing units at an average density of 1,117.8 per square mile (431.7/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 90.08% White, 3.62% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.74% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 2.52% from other races, and 1.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.67% of the population.

There were 5,252 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the town the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $45,670, and the median income for a family was $54,715. Males had a median income of $42,367 versus $30,458 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,117. About 6.9% of families and 8.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.1% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.

Voter registration and party enrollment as of November 01, 2016[12]
Party Active voters Inactive voters Total voters Percentage
Democratic 2,446 337 2,783 36.82%
Republican 1,104 119 1,223 16.18%
Unaffiliated 2,809 660 3,469 45.90%
Minor Parties 80 2 82 1.08%
Total 6,439 1,118 7,557 100%

Polish immigration[edit]

Polish immigrants have left a large mark on the demographics of the town, with 18% of all residents claiming Polish as their ethnicity and 2% as having been born in Poland.[13] Due to this large population, the town features several Polish shops, restaurants, and clubs.[14] Saint Michael's the Archangel Parish, a Roman Catholic church serves mass in Polish as well as English.

Fire Department[edit]

The City of Derby is served by volunteer firefighters in the Derby Fire Department (DFD). The DFD consists of four all-volunteer fire companies (Hotchkiss Hose Co. # 1, Storm Engine Co. # 2, East End Hose Co. # 3, and Paugassett Hook & Ladder Co. # 4) operating out of four fire stations located throughout the city. Each all-volunteer fire company is commanded by a captain and two lieutenants, who in turn are commanded by three department assistant chiefs. The assistant chiefs in turn report to the Chief of Department, Kurt Kemmesis., who reports to the Fire Commissioner, Mike Kelleher.

Organized fire protection in Derby is traced back to the organization of the Derby Fire Engine Company which existed from 1830 to a period during the early 1850s. This was Derby's first organized fire company, with its quarters located originally in the area of Gilbert and Highs Streets, then called Derby Landing. This company operated an older style "goose-neck" fire engine that was outdated at the time. The fire engine was pumped by moving the handles back and forth thus forcing the water through the pipe and nozzle attached to the unit. People had to dump water into the fire engine by using buckets instead of putting a hose into or hooking up to a water source. In early 1840s, the company moved up Derby Avenue to the area approximately across from where St. Michael's Church now stands (the present east-bound lanes of Route 34). As the center of the town shifted from the east side to what is now downtown, interest in the company waned and thus was disbanded.

In 1837, residents in the village of Birmingham (today's present downtown) petitioned for their own fire company to protect their interests. Upon receiving a state charter the Birmingham Fire Company was established on June 7, 1837. This company is the oldest firefighting organization in the city now known as the Hotchkiss Hose Company No. 1. The company was first located in the area of Third and Minerva Streets then moved in the 1840 to Caroline Street to a location near the crest of the "cobblestone hill" portion of the street. The company moved again into new quarters several years later to the property located on Caroline Street across from Third Street. In 1872 the company changed its name to the Hotchkiss Hose Company No. 1 in honor of one of their original members Lewis Hotchkiss. In the early 1920s the old wood framed firehouse was removed from the property and the present building that houses the arts center was erected for the Hotchkiss Hose where the company remained until moving to their present location on David Humphreys Road in 1971.

The Storm Engine Company No. 2 was organized in 1851 when Birmingham was a borough in the town of Derby and was formally incorporated in 1853. First quartered on Elizabeth Street in the area of the Derby Green, the company now operates from its firehouse located on Oliva Street since the 1950s. The Storm Engine Company has continued holding an annual firemen's formal ball since its inception which now takes place Thanksgiving weekend. In 1949 seeing the need for an ambulance service in Derby, several members of the Storm Engine Company led by Edward Cotter established the Storm Engine Company Ambulance Corps, which continues today to provide medical, rescue and hazardous materials mitigation services.

The Paugassett Hook & Ladder Company No 4 was organized in 1903 originally as a hose company and originally named the Paugassett Hose Company No. 4. This company is named in honor of the Paugassett Native American tribe that once called Derby home. The company organized in what was known as the "Hotchkiss Hose Reserve", a unit of the Hotchkiss Hose that kept a hose cart on the east side of town to help protect it. When the Paugassetts organized, it was the first fully organized fire company to exist on Derby's east side since the disbanding of the old Derby Fire Engine Company in the 1850s. The company's first firehouse stood where the present firehouse now stands on Derby Avenue (Route 34). Around 1915 - 1916 the Paugassett Hose was given a motorized ladder truck after the disbanding of Derby's former hook and ladder company. It was at this time the company became known as the Paugassett Hook & Ladder Company No. 4.

In 1950, residents in the "East End" section of Derby's east side organized a new fire company to protect that area of the city. The unit organized independently from the city and adopted the name East End Hose Company No. 3. The company originally operated an old fire engine that was first used by the Storm Engine Company and was quartered at various locations. In 1955 the company moved into its present quarters on Derby-Milford Road, which was erected by the company's membership. The company remained independent from the city up until 1975 when the company was included and incorporated as part of the Derby Fire Department.

Besides the Derby Fire Engine Company, two other fire companies also existed before being disbanded. Around 1856 a unit known as the Pequot Fire Company was organized and existed for a short period of time. In 1861 this company ended up disbanding when a good majority of its members signed up to fight in the American Civil War to quell the southern rebellion. After the war, the members reorganized as a social club but never again acted as a fire fighting unit. The other fire company was known as the R. M. Bassett Hook & Ladder Company. This unit was organized in the Borough of Birmingham in 1874 and was named in honor of manufacturer Royal M. Bassett. The company was first quartered on Main Street until the completion of the Sterling Opera House. The company took up quarters on the old Fourth Street side of the Opera House which was later utilized by the Derby Police Department. The company was removed from their Opera House quarters around 1915 / 1916 under some sort of controversy though it seems the true reason is lost to history. With no home of their own the Bassett Hook & Ladder Company was disbanded and the "truck company" duties of the department were transferred over to the Paugassetts.[15][16]

Fire station locations and apparatus[edit]

Fire Company Engine Ladder Special Unit Address Neighborhood
Hotchkiss Hose Co. 1 Engine 13, Engine 14 200 David Humphrey Rd. East Derby
Storm Engine Co. 2 Engine 11, Engine 12 Rescue 18, Haz-Mat. 2, Haz-Mat. 19 51 Olivia St. Downtown
East End Hose Co. 3 Engine 16 Haz-Mat. 17 10 Derby-Milford Rd. East Derby
Paugassett Hook & Ladder Co. # 4 Truck 15 Brush 4, Tac. 51(Gator) 57 Derby Ave. East Derby

Arts and culture[edit]

Derby sites on the National Register of Historic Places[edit]

  • The Kraus Corset Factory, now the Sterling Rowe Apartment House on the corner of Roosevelt Drive and Third Street.
  • Osbornedale, a farm house built in the early nineteenth century.
  • Howe House, built in 1845.
  • Sterling Opera House was built in 1889 to seat 1250, and remained in use until 1945. City Hall and a police station occupied the two lower levels until 1965.[17]
  • Derby Public Library, built in 1902 with Ansonia marble, the library was founded as a free reading room in 1868. The land was provided by the Sarah Riggs Humphreys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, on the condition that the building would always have a room the chapter could use. The chapter also donated $5,000 for books with the stipulation that people in the town raise an equal amount.[18]
  • Birmingham Green Historic District was designated on April 21, 2000, as Derby's sixth site on the National Register of Historic Places.[19]


This is the National Humane Alliance fountain given to Derby, CT in 1906 and restored in 2007 as a gateway to the Derby Greenway. The fountain has three levels. The top level contains spigots in the shape of lion's heads for humans. Below that is a large circular bowl for horses and at the base are smaller bowls for dogs and cats.

The city has resurrected its National Humane Alliance fountain – a century-old granite structure with lion-head spigots—as part of a gateway entrance plaza at the Division Street entrance to the Derby Greenway. The fountain was given to the City in 1906 by the National Humane Alliance and erected at the intersection of Seymour and Atwater Avenues. The water was first turned on on June 1, 1906. Years later it was moved to Founders Commons when traffic patterns made its original location a problem. It fell into disrepair and was not used as a fountain while on Founders Commons. When the Derby Greenway was built, the fountain was moved to its new location on June 22, 2006, fully restored with new plumbing and new lions heads and formally dedicated with the surrounding Derby Hall of Fame Plaza on September 1, 2007.[20]


The Valley Independent Sentinel, an online-only, non-profit news site, launched in June 2009. It has an office in Ansonia. Its editor lives in Derby.

The Valley Gazette, a weekly, also covers Derby, as does The Connecticut Post and The New Haven Register.

Derby was the location of Charlton Press, Inc. The company remains unique in the publishing industry in that every phase of production (editorial, printing, distribution) took place under one roof. The Charlton Building housed three sister companies: Charlton Press, Charlton Publications, and Capitol Distribution. The company is best known for its extensive Charlton Comics division which produced dozens of comic book titles from 1946 to 1985.

Derby was also the home of Bruce-Royal Publishing Corporation located on Division Street. The company published men's magazines such as Escapade (1955-1968), Gentleman (c. 1964-1966), and Play-Things (1964).

Derby High School, about 1909




The city has a Metro-North railroad station called Derby – Shelton.


Connecticut Transit - Route F6

Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority - Routes 15 & 23

Valley Transit - Dial-A-Ride

Both bus routes meet at the Derby–Shelton (Metro-North station), the Valley Transit facility is next to the train station on adjoining property.

Notable people[edit]

Plans for the future[edit]

The Howe House "will become home of the Lower Naugatuck Valley Industrial Heritage Center; where the Derby Historical Society's extensive collection of Industrial Era artifacts will be properly displayed. Future educational programs will include student hands-on programs that will introduce the Industrial Revolution and the Valley's active role in this period."[22]


  1. ^ "City of Derby Connecticut". City of Derby Connecticut. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Derby |". Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 104. 
  5. ^ "Profile for Derby, Connecticut, CTistrict". ePodunk. Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Derby, Connecticut". Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ (undated). "A Guide to the International Silver Company Records, 1853-1921". UCONN University Libraries, Storrs, CT. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  8. ^ (undated). "The Derby Silver Company". Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  9. ^ D. Hurd & Co. (1893). "Derby Silver Co." (page 211). In Town and city atlas of the State of Connecticut. Boston, MA. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of November 01, 2016" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Retrieved 2017-04-20. 
  13. ^ Mozdzer, Jodie. (2009-10-08) 'Warsaw' Coming To Ansonia | Valley Independent Sentinel. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  14. ^ [1] Archived November 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Derby Fire Department Derby, CT. (2013-02-24). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  16. ^ About Us. (1935-09-21). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  17. ^ [2] "Sterling Opera House" Web page at the Electronic Valley Web site, accessed July 22, 2006
  18. ^ [3] "Derby Public Library" Web page on the Electronic Valley Web site, accessed on July 22, 2006.
  19. ^ [4] "Derby History Quiz" page at the Electronic Valley Web site, accessed on July 22, 2006.
  20. ^ Derby History Quiz - National Humane Alliance Watering Trough. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  21. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  22. ^ [5] "Howe House" Web page of the Electronic Valley Web site, accessed on July 22, 2006

External links[edit]