Introduction to Danbury, Connecticut
The Connecticut city of Danbury, located in Fairfield County, is situated in the western part of the state, about 35 miles west of New Haven and 60 miles southwest of the state capital of Hartford. Danbury is also about 70 miles northeast of New York City. Interstate I-84 goes through the city, as do U.S. Route 7 and Connecticut State Highway 58. Danbury is home to Western Connecticut State University.
First settled by colonists in the late 17th century, Danbury is thought to have been named for the English city of origin (Danbury, Essex) of many of its early settlers. Nicknamed the Hat City, Danbury saw the development of a growing hatting industry spring forth in the late 18th century, and by 1800 the city was producing more hats than anywhere else in the United States. By the time of Danbury's incorporation in 1889, the city's hat output was numbering in the millions annually. A combination of labor disputes, financial reversals, and changing fashion caused a dramatic turnaround in the 20th century, resulting in many factories ceasing operations or moving elsewhere. By the middle part of the 20th century, the hatting industry had virtually disappeared from the city but its influence is still felt in many ways today. A derby hat is depicted within the city seal and many of the city's exhibits and attractions relate to its once most-prominent industry.
Danbury Points of Interest
Visitors to Danbury can enjoy a number of options for recreation and sightseeing. Outdoor recreation in the form of picnicking, swimming, and boating is available at Candlewood Park, which overlooks Candlewood Lake. Tarrywile Mansion and Park houses an historic Victorian mansion and also contains numerous trails and ponds on its 600-plus acres. Cultural sites in town include the Military Museum of Southern New England, featuring a collection of literally thousands of artifacts, many extremely rare, covering 20th century American military history of all of the nation's armed services. The Danbury Railway Museum chronicles the history of railroading, offers rail excursion trips, and houses a collection of items including original and restored railroad artifacts. The Danbury Museum and Historical Society chronicles New England's past with a principal focus on the heritage of Danbury, offering numerous displays and exhibits as well as summer activities for children.
Performing arts in Danbury can be found in numerous places, including Ives Concert Park, where many rock legends have performed. The Connecticut Choral Society is an ensemble comprised of singers from more than 20 Connecticut towns who have appeared at Carnegie Hall, toured internationally and performed on network television. The Connecticut Master Chorale is a premier vocal ensemble which presents three large annual concerts. The Danbury Music Centre, housed in a beautifully restored 19th century building, is the prime site in the city for performances of classic and modern musical compositions.
Sports fans in Danbury have a local professional hockey franchise they can root for. The New England Stars, members of the North Eastern Hockey League, play their games at the Danbury Ice Arena. Major league sports abound in the greater metropolitan New York City area, less than two hours away. Teams include baseball's Yankees and Mets, basketball's Knicks (NBA) and hockey's Rangers (NHL). The WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) also has a New York franchise, the New York Liberty.