Lower Naugatuck Valley
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The Lower Naugatuck Valley, also known as "The Valley", is a geographic area located around the confluence of the southern parts of the Housatonic River and Naugatuck River. The area consists of the municipalities of Seymour, Derby, Ansonia, and Shelton (not within the Naugatuck watershed), and is governed by the Valley Council of Governments. The definition of the Lower Naugatuck Valley is sometimes extended to encompass the towns of Oxford, Beacon Falls, and Naugatuck.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Valley was one of the main manufacturing centers in New England, and most of the Valley communities were emblematic New England mill towns. In 2000, the seven towns in the extended Lower Naugatuck Valley region were selected as an All-American City with the title of the award changed to "All-American Valley".
This was the most prosperous part of Connecticut in the early days of industrialization. The region was the location of key factories in national industries, most notably the brass industry, rubber manufacturing, petrochemical production and shipbuilding. Naugatuck was the birthplace of Naugahyde. This industrial past has given the region a heavy urban landscape, with many factory buildings rising prominently along the riverside and dominating the central districts of the towns. Much can be learned about the Lower Naugatuck Valley History at: https://www.facebook.com/LowerNaugyValleyHistory
After the Great Depression, however, the area began a prolonged period of deindustrialization and lost large portions of its manufacturing base, leaving behind weak economies and empty buildings typical of Rustbelt landscapes. In 1955, the area's fortunes were further impaired when floodwaters brought by Hurricane Diane devastated the region. From Naugatuck to Shelton, entire downtown neighborhoods were washed away, leaving the region in disaster. High unemployment, poverty, and isolation marked the more urban Naugatuck Valley cities through the 1980s. Floodwaters even went into surrounding areas such as the lower portion of the Greater Waterbury area.
Since the early 1990s, rural and southern portions of the Naugatuck Valley have evolved into sprawling commuter towns. Communities like Shelton and Oxford have become popular bedroom communities for residents working in New York City and lower Fairfield County. Vast sections of farmland up and down the Naugatuck Valley have also been developed for the building of luxury homes. Despite this suburbanization, however, the region is still tied to its core city centers like Derby and downtown areas of Ansonia and Naugatuck, thus retaining its working-class flavor.
Along with other towns in Connecticut, the Naugatuck Valley maintains a high emotional and cultural involvement with its high school football teams and their rivalries. Football shapes many peoples lives in the valley with high school alumni, faculty and students giving a huge fan base which also includes families and town citizens. The Naugatuck Valley League serves five high schools in the Valley: Naugatuck, Oxford, Woodland, Seymour, and Ansonia. The Naugatuck Valley League also contains eight schools that are outside of the valley: Torrington, Watertown, Crosby, Holy Cross, Wilby, Kennedy, W.F Kaynor Panthers, and Sacred Heart. Derby High School is the only school in the Valley which does not belong to the Naugatuck Valley League. Derby High School belongs to the Housatonic League but at times will play teams such as Shelton High School.
Politically, the Valley is far more conservative than much of the rest of Connecticut, and supported George W. Bush in the 2004 election, centrist Senator Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary; and favored Republicans John McCain in the 2008 election, Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and Thomas C. Foley in the 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial elections.