A Gateway To New England
Nestled in northern Fairfield County at the foot of the Berkshire Mountains, Danbury lies next to the New York State border and is often referred to as the “Gateway to New England”. The hub of the Housatonic Valley Region and its close proximity to metropolitan centers, natural surroundings, many lakes and ponds, excellent school systems, cultural opportunities, healthcare facilities, low crime rate, quality of life, and real estate values makes this a wonderful place to call home.
It’s been said that Danbury began when eight families came from the Norwalk and Stamford Connecticut areas in 1685. They came to settle in Danbury – which the Indians then called “Pahquioque” or “Paquiaqe”, meaning “open plain” or “cleared land”. Though the settlers had chosen the name “Swampfield”, the general court in October 1687 decreed the name “Danbury” which came from the English word “Danebury”.
Danbury was known as the “Hat City of the World” and it is said that the first hat made in the U.S. was made in Danbury. All hats were handmade in Danbury’s small shops. Collectively, they led the country in fur hat production – exporting 20,000 hats annually. Between 1808 and 1809, there were 56 hat shops in operation selling hats.
In 1849 a machine was introduced, which could form fur hat bodies – nearly eliminating all the small shops – which gave way to larger factories increasing production levels to over 5,000,000.
Danbury is rich in history and while it has become a modern thriving city, it takes great pride in remembering the past. The Danbury Fair was the state’s largest fair running from 1869 – ending October 12, 1981. In the late ’50s, the stock car races at the Race Arena attracted up to 10,000 fans weekly and lasted until the summer of 1981 as with the Danbury Fair itself. In order to remember how the “Great Danbury Fair” helped put Danbury on the map, the Danbury Fair Mall was constructed on the grounds that the fair was once held on. The Mall opened in the mid-’80s with Wayne Newton on hand to celebrate its opening. It boasted 250 stores and was the largest mall in Connecticut at the time. Today, it hosts numerous special events including antique, home, boat, car, college fairs, and bridal shows.
History lives on in Danbury High School, one of the state’s largest high schools, and proudly displays the Danbury Mad Hatter as its mascot. Danbury High School offers one of the newest and finest multi-purpose stadium complexes in the area.
The Charles Ives Center for the Arts, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1974 and incorporated in 1976 to honor the memory of Danbury native Charles Edward Ives, who is one of America’s greatest music composers. The Ives Center produces the highest quality music and other arts-related programming at Ives Concert park, a unique outdoor amphitheater situated on a beautiful area of state-owned land which includes 40 wooded acres, a pond, breathtaking gardens, and public hiking trails.
Danbury’s long tradition as a cultural and educational center makes it a desirable place to live and raise a family. It continues to attract new residents with the quality of life it offers through it’s natural attributes of the Housatonic Valley, location, museums, performing arts, and shopping.