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Fairfield is a town located in Fairfield Countymarker, Connecticutmarker, United Statesmarker. It is situated along the Gold Coast of Connecticut. Fairfield is a town of many neighborhoods, two of which—Southport and Greenfield Hill—are notably affluent. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 57,340. In July 2006, Money Magazine ranked Fairfield the ninth "best place to live" in the United States, and the best place to live in the Northeast.This is primarily due to its affluence, low crime rate with only three homicides in the last five years , excellent public school system, suburban character, scenic location on the Long Island Sound, and proximity to New York City. The town was also listed among the "preppiest" places in the United States in the tongue-in-cheek 1980s best-seller The Official Preppy Handbook.

It considers itself the "dogwood capital of the world," and each spring a Dogwood Festival takes place in the Greenfield Hillmarker neighborhood.

History

Colonial Era

In 1635 some Puritans and Congregationalists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were dissatisfied with the rate of Anglican reforms, and sought to establish an ecclesiastical society subject to their own rules and regulations. The Massachusetts General Court granted them permission to settle the cities of Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford in the area now known as Connecticutmarker.

On January 14, 1639, a set of legal and administrative regulations called the Fundamental Orders was adopted, and established Connecticut as a self-ruled entity. By 1639 these settlers had started new towns in the surrounding areas. Roger Ludlow, framer of the Fundamental Orders, purchased the land presently Fairfield, and established the name.

According to historian John M. Taylor: "Early in 1639 the General Court granted a commission to Ludlow to begin a plantation at Pequannocke. He was on that errand, with a few others from Windsor, afterwards joined by immigrants from Watertown and Concord. He bought a large tract of land from the Pequannocke sachems, - afterwards greatly enlarged by other purchases to the westward,- and recalling the attractive region beyond (Uncoa), which he had personally seen on the second Pequot expedition, he also “set down” there, having purchased the territory embraced in the present town of Fairfield, to which he gave its name."

Towns Created from Fairfield

Fairfield was one of the two principal settlements of the Connecticut Colony in southwestern Connecticut (the other was Stratfordmarker). Over time, it gave rise to several new towns that broke off and incorporated separately. The following is a list of towns created from parts of Fairfield.

Revolutionary War

When the Revolutionary War began in the 1770s, Fairfielders were caught in the crisis as much as, if not more than, the rest of their neighbors in Connecticut. In a predominantly Tory section of the state, the people of Fairfield were early supporters of the cause for independence. Throughout the war, a constant battle was being fought across Long Island Sound as men from British-controlled Long Island raided the coast in whaleboats and privateers. Gold Selleck Silliman, whose home still stands on Jennings Road, was put in charge of the coastal defenses.

In the spring of 1779, he was kidnapped from his home by Tory forces in preparation for a British raid on Fairfield County. His wife watched from their home as, on the morning of July 7, 1779, approximately 2,000 enemy troops landed on Fairfield Beach near Pine Creek Point and proceeded to invade the town. When they left the following evening, the entire town lay in ruins, burned to the ground as punishment for Fairfield's support of the rebel cause. Ten years later, President George Washington noted after traveling through Fairfield, that " the destructive evidences of British cruelty are yet visible both in Norwalkmarker and Fairfield; as there are the chimneys of many burnt houses standing in them yet."

Fairfield recovered slowly from the burning, but soon after the end of the war its houses and public buildings had all been rebuilt.

Twentieth Century

World War I brought Fairfield out of its agrarian past by triggering an unprecedented economic boom in Bridgeport, the center of a large munitions industry. The prosperity created a housing shortage in the city, and many of the workers looked to Fairfield to build their homes. The trolley and later the automobile made the countryside accessible to these newly rich members of the middle class, who brought with them new habits, new attitudes, and new modes of dress. The prosperity lasted through the twenties.

By the time of the stock market crash in 1929, the population had increased to 17,000 from the 6,000 it had been just before the war. Even during the Depression, the town kept growing.

The grounding of a barge with two crewmen on Penfield Reef in Fairfield during a gale led to the first civilian helicopter hoist rescue in history, on November 29, 1945. The helicopter flew from the nearby Sikorsky Aircraft plant in Bridgeport.

Fairfield is also the home of the corporate headquarters of GE, General Electric, one of the world's largest companies.

The opening of the Connecticut Turnpike in the 1950s brought another wave of development to Fairfield and by the 1960s the town's residential, suburban character was firmly established.

Current Era

Fairfield in 2000 had a population of 57,340 people the latest of 2004 put it at a 0.4% increase to 58,900 people, though some estimates of the 2006 September estimate place it at a 2% drop to 56,700 residents which is on par for many cities in the state of Connecticut.

The current First Selectman has propagated various planning and zoning changes that will remake the once suburban town into a major urban center. The Fairfield Metro Center is destined to become the new centerpiece of that effort. The current planning effort acknowledges the new "high intensity" of development that will ensue but does include open space parks and pedestrian friendly neigborhoods .

Government

The town government consists of the three-member Board of Selectmen, a Representative Town Meeting (RTM), a Board of Finance, a Board of Education, a Planning and Zoning Commission (TPZ), and many other politically appointed commissions, boards, and committees. The current First Selectman is Kenneth A. Flatto (D), who is currently serving his fifth term in office.

Education

Public schools in Fairfield include Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe High Schools; Roger Ludlowe, Tomlinson, and Fairfield Woods Middle Schools; and 11 elementary schools.

Private schools include Fairfield College Preparatory Schoolmarker, Notre Dame Catholic High Schoolmarker, Fairfield Country Day School, Holy Family School, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School and the Unquowa School.

Fairfield is also home to post-secondary institutions Fairfield Universitymarker and Sacred Heart Universitymarker.

Bellarmine Hall at Fairfield University


Geography

The town is on the shore of the Long Island Soundmarker. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 31.3 square miles (81.1 km²), of which, 30.0 square miles (77.8 km²) of it is land and 3.4 km² (1.3 sq mi or 4.15%) of it is water. The Mill Rivermarker, the waters of which feed Lake Mohegan, flows through the town.

Fairfield consists of many neighborhoods. The best known are wealthy Southportmarker -- where well-known General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch lived for many years—and Greenfield Hillmarker, with its large areas, famous dogwood trees, and picturesque green with white-spired Congregational church. Other well established neighborhoods include Stratfield, Tunxis Hill, the University area, Grasmere, Mill Plain, Knapp's Village, Melville Village, Holland Hill, and the Fairfield Beach area, which has recently undergone a renaissance with the construction of many new homes by residents wising to live in proximity to the beach and downtown. Two shopping districts in town include the Post Road (U.S. 1) and Black Rock Turnpike.

Neighborhoods

Fairfield Center in a 1956 postcard


Points of Interest

Historic sites



Other points of interest

  • Connecticut Audobon Society Center at Fairfield (separate from the Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary) – six miles of boardwalk nature trails in a 160-acre wildlife sanctuary with a nature center
  • Fairfield Museum and History Center[16258];– displays on local history, art and decorative arts, and a library on local history
  • Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sacred Heart University – holds five exhibitions each year
  • Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University


Large and Distinctive Companies



Media



Arts and Entertainment

Fairfield Community Theater, shown in this 1938 postcard, is operated the Fairfield Community Theatre Foundation
  • The Fairfield Community Theatre Foundationmarker or the FTC, not only runs the downtown, two-screen moviehouse for independent and second-run films, but operates educational programs for young people who also volunteer at the moviehouse. More information including what movies are currently playing, is available at the foundation's Web site.
  • The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on the campus of Fairfield Universitymarker opened in 1990 and includes events such as popular and classical music, dance, theatre, programs for young audiences, and the Open VISIONS Forum lecture series featuring present eminent opinion-makers, artists, authors, learned contributors to the humanities and sciences and civic and political commentators. It houses the 740-seat Kelley Theatre, the 150-seat Lawrence A. Wien Experimental (Black Box) Theatre, and the Thomas J. Walsh, Jr. Art Gallery. The Quick Center has become known as one of the finest concert halls in the country and was recognized as the "cultural epicenter of Fairfield County" by Westport Magazine.
  • The PepsiCo Theatre, a renovated 1922 carriage house on the campus of Fairfield Universitymarker, is the home to the Theatre Program of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Theater Fairfield, the resident production company of the University. The PepsiCo Theatre is also home to Shakespeare Ventures, a professional theatre company.
  • WSHU Public Radio
  • WVOF


Recreation

Fairfield residents enjoy a wealth of recreational opportunities, many of which stem from Fairfield's enviable location on the Long Island Sound.
  • The town's five miles of Long Island Sound coastline include 5 town beaches which are staffed by lifeguards during the summer, and miles of privately owned beach which are open to the public below the high tide mark.
  • South Benson Marina is a town-owned facility providing 600 boat slips which residents can rent for the summer.
  • Lake Mohegan, which includes waterfalls called The Cascades, is in the middle of town and is a popular destination for hiking, as is the Fairfield Audubon Society on Burr Street and the Bird Sancutary on Unquowa Road.
  • Ye Yacht Yard, a town owned facility on picturesque Southport Harbor provides boat launch services to residents, and access to moorings in Southport Harbor. Ye Yacht Yard is also the location of Community Sailing of Fairfield, whose members share use of two 18-foot sailboats.


Transportation

Fairfield is traversed by U.S. 1, Interstate 95, and the Merritt Parkway. It has two Metro-North Railroad stations, Fairfield stationmarker and Southport stationmarker. A third station is under construction near the Grasmere neighborhood and adjacent Black Rock neighborhood of Bridgeport along with a large commercial development known as Fairfield Metro Center. The town is served by several public bus lines of the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there are 57,340 people in the town, organized into 20,397 households and 14,808 families. The population density is 1,909.3 people per square mile (737.2/km²). There are 21,029 housing units at an average density of 700.2/sq mi (270.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town is 95.27% White, 2.04% Asian, 1.09% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. 2.34% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 20,397 households out of which 33.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.8% are married couples living together, 8.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.4% are non-families. 22.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.61 and the average family size is 3.07.

In the town the population is spread out with 23.7% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $83,512, and the median income for a family is $100,920 (these figures had risen to $103,352 and $121,749 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males have a median income of $69,525 versus $44,837 for females. The per capita income for the city is $43,670. 2.9% of the population and 1.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 2.8% of those under the age of 18 and 3.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Fairfield is notable for, among other things, its very low crime rate. There have been only three murders in the last five years in town. Money Magazine's 2006 Best Places to Live Survey ranks Fairfield as the second safest municipality in the United States. [16259]

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 25, 2005
Party Active Voters Inactive Voters Total Voters Percentage

Republican 10,829 1,047 11,876 31.88%

Democratic 8,634 728 9,362 25.13%

Unaffiliated 14,423 1,574 15,997 42.94%

Minor Parties 21 1 22 0.06%
Total 33,907 3,350 37,257 100%


Popular Culture

1910 poscard showing Fairfield Library
The following movies were filmed in Fairfield:

The television sitcom Who's the Boss? took place in Fairfield. In certain episodes, particular streets and even neighboring Bridgeport were mentioned. In fact, the lead character, Tony, attended Fairfield University and wore an official Fairfield University sweatshirt during the episode.

An episode of the Food Network show Rachael Ray's Block Party was filmed in Fairfield, as were portions of several episodes of Ham on the Street.

On January 29, 2009, Stephen Colbert mentioned Archie Moore's Restaurant's wing sauce spill on his show The Colbert Report.

It is the fictional location of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in the Hellboy graphic novel series.

Famous Residents (Past and Present)

Fairfield Beach, in a 1921 postcard
Post Road, in Fairfield Center, in a 1934 photo


References

  1. Money Magazine Best Places to Live, 2006 Retrieved on March 11, 2008
  2. [1] Connecticut Uniform Crime Reports
  3. Taylor, John M., Roger Ludlow the Colonial Lawmaker, 1900, Google Book Search, Retrieved May 27, 2008
  4. Washington, George. (1860). The Diary of George Washington, from 1789 to 1791: Embracing the Opening of the First Congress.... A.D.F. Randolph & Co. p. 21. Google Book Search. Retrieved on March 11, 2008
  5. [2]Commerce Drive Black Rock Station Area Planning Study
  6. Prevost, Lisa (July 3, 2005)."LIVING IN/The Fairfield, Conn., Beach Area; A Beach Community in an Awkward Transition, The New York Times"
  7. Prevost, Lisa (July 3, 2005)."LIVING IN/The Fairfield, Conn., Beach Area; A Beach Community in an Awkward Transition, The New York Times"
  8. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-context=adp&-qr_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_DP3YR3&-ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_&-tree_id=3307&-redoLog=false&-_caller=geoselect&-geo_id=06000US0900126620&-format=&-_lang=en
  9. Errett,Kristen - Biographical Information
  10. Benton, William - Biographical Information
  11. Dixon, Ken, "Music Hall of Fame proposed for state ", article in Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, Connecticut, April 26, 2007 ("Leonard Bernstein, a longtime Fairfield resident")
  12. James Blake bio
  13. RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project: RJHARMOR
  14. After 50 Years in Acting, Fully Relaxed in His Craft, New York Times Web page, The New York Times, April 8, 2007, accessed May 21, 2008
  15. Beautiful Life, Westport/Fairfield Magazine Web page, December, 2008, accessed January 5, 2009
  16. Robert Penn Warren, Poet and Author, Dies, obituary article, no byline noted on New York Times Web page, The New York Times, September 16, 1989, page 1, accessed February 6, 2007


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