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Torrington is the largest city in Litchfield Countymarker, Connecticutmarker and the northwestern Connecticutmarker region. It is also the core city of the largest micropolitan area in the United Statesmarker.Small-town USA goes micropolitan. 2004. October 18, 2006. /www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2004-06-27-rural_x.htm>. The population was 36,248 at the 2000 census.

Torrington is a former mill town, as are most other towns along the Naugatuck River Valley. It is currently competing with the neighboring city of Winstedmarker to recreate a pleasant Main Street environment. Downtown Torrington is home to the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts, which trains ballet dancers and whose Company performs in the Warner Theatre, a 1,700 seat auditorium restored in 2002 to its original 1931 glory. The theater, while originally built as a cinema by the Warner Brothers film studio, has been reborn as a performing arts venue and arts instruction organization, and will serve as a cornerstone of the city's downtown revitalization project. Downtown Torrington also hosts the largest Lodge of Elks in New England. Elks Lodge #372 supports many community activities and events.

The daily newspaper in town is The Register Citizen, a Journal Register Company publication that serves Torrington and Winsted, in addition to most of the Northwest Corner.

History

Torrington, originally Wolcottville, was first settled in 1735 by Ebenezer Lyman Jr. of Durhammarker, Connecticutmarker. Its early settlers resided on the hills west of the Naugatuck River where the first school, church, store, and tavern were constructed. Later, the eastern hill known as Torringford was settled as it provided the best farmland for agricultural work. Torrington was given permission to organize a government and incorporate as a town in October of 1740.

The fast moving waters of the Naugatuck River were utilized as waterpower for early 19th century industries. Industrial growth skyrocketed in 1813 when Frederick Wolcott constructed a woolen mill. The mill attracted a large workforce and created a demand for goods, services, and housing.

From a postcard sent in 1906


Israel Coe and Erastus Hodges began the construction of two brass mills on the Naugatuck River in 1834. This event sparked the beginning of the brass industry in Torrington, which would later spread throughout the entire Naugatuck Valley. In 1849, the Naugatuck Valley railroad was completed which connected Torrington with other population centers, ending its isolation and stimulating further industrial growth. Soon, Torrington was producing a variety of metal products including needles, brass, hardware, bicycles, and tacks. Torrington's growing industrial plants attracted English, Irish, and German immigrants throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Between 1880 and 1920, Torrington's population exploded from 3,000 to 22,000 as immigration from southern and eastern Europe increased. During this period, immigrants included the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians and Lebanese. Torrington was chartered as a city in 1923.

In 1955, a massive flood destroyed much of the downtown area and property in the region when Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane caused local rivers to overflow.

Torrington is the birthplace of abolitionist John Brown.

Geography

Historical
population of
Torrington
[34646]
1756 250
1774 845
1782 1,077
1790
1800 1,417
1810 1,586
1820 1,449
1830 1,651
1840 1,707
1850 1,916
1860 2,278
1870 2,893
1880 3,327
1890 6,048
1900 12,453
1910 16,840
1920 22,055
1930 26,040
1940 26,988
1950 27,820
1960 30,045
1970 31,952
1980 30,987
1990 33,687
2000 35,202
2002 35,655
(est.)[34647]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 40.4 square miles (104.6 km²). Approximately 39.8 square miles (103.1 km²) of it is land and 1.5 km² (0.6 sq mi or 1.41%) of it is water.

The eastern and western sides of the city, at its borders, are at the tops of peaks, while the downtown and central sections of the city are in the Naugatuck River Valley. This provides some interesting views from the higher locations, with the city lights as a backdrop below. Due to the lack of suitable highways and bypass routes in an East/West direction, crossing the city requires driving down into the valley and back up the other side.

Principal communities

  • Burrville
  • Drakeville
  • Newfield
  • Torringford
  • Downtown Torrington
  • West Torrington
  • Wrightville


Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 35,202 people, 14,743 households, and 9,125 families residing in the city. The population density was 884.7 people per square mile (341.6/km²). There were 16,147 housing units at an average density of 405.8/sq mi (156.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.03% White, 2.15% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 1.83% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.31% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.30% of the population.

There were 14,743 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.7% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,841, and the median income for a family was $54,375. Males had a median income of $37,702 versus $28,418 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,406. About 4.5% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.4% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Downtown redevelopment

Torrington is planning to revitalize its downtown area in an effort to attract residents and visitors to the city's shopping and cultural opportunities. These redevelopment plans are still in discussion and are not yet completed.

The following ideas have been discussed:

Coe Memorial Park Restoration

The historic restoration and renovation to downtown Coe Memorial Park were completed in the beginning of 2004. The Coe Memorial Park Subcommittee and the City of Torrington, worked closely with Ferrero Hixon Associates, to restore the Park to a Victorian walking park, much as it was when it was first gifted to the Town in 1906. These renovations included new sidewalks and paths, and the relocation of memorials and monuments. In 2005, award winning horticulturist, Gwenythe b. Harvey, owner of the firm The Garden Goddess, LLC, was hired to redefine, design and upgrade existing garden areas. Coe Memorial Park's Botanical Gardens has since become a well-known tourist destination.

Retail expansion

Torrington hopes to attract a wide variety of merchants into its downtown setting. Empty and abandoned buildings would be converted into a mix of retail, office, and residential space. A potential plan discusses the possibility of a national clothing retailer or bookstore chain constructing a location at the top of Water Street on the site of the Kelley Bus Company. This plan has come under fire by some because it involves the demolition of the former Torrington railroad station, which is considered by many to be historical.

Accessibility

A parking garage is slated to be constructed in the heart of downtown on either Main Street or Water Street. The municipal parking lot next to the Torrington Library would also serve as a downtown parking area. Because the downtown redevelopment project emphasizes pedestrian access, brick sidewalks lined with trees, benches, and bike racks would be constructed along Main Street.

Roads and traffic

To relieve congestion, the city plans to convert the Main Street/Water Street/East Main Street downtown intersection into a "+" shape, rather than its current criticized setup. The city expects to convert Main Street into a one-way road with parking lining one side of the street. The neighboring Prospect Street would also be converted into a one-way road with traffic flowing in the opposite direction. Most of the roads are in medium to poor condition and filled with pot holes.

East end development

The east end of the city known as Torringford, along U.S. Route 202, has been undergoing a period of non-stop, rapid expansion since 1996, when a shopping complex was built on the corner of Rte 202 and 183 with a Wal-Martmarker, Price Chopper, Sears Hardware (which has since closed due to competition from nearby Home Depot in neighboring New Hartford) and McDonald's. A Circuit City had been built where Sears Hardware was previously located, but has since closed. Led by the development of multiple shopping centers at that time, the once empty farm land has become home to many chains that are new to the city. Among the current projects are the construction of a new Walgreens drug store, the relocation of a local bank branch and the opening of a new car wash. Expected to begin soon is the construction of a new Stop & Shop supermarket. Construction has already completed on a plaza anchored by a Target department store. Target opened in October 2007. Sleepy's, Panera Bread, Bed Bath & Beyond, Game Stop and Famous Footwear have also been built in the Target development.

City financial report (2004)

The City of Torrington typically collects 100% of taxes owed through the use of private tax collectors.

The 2004 General Fund budgetary fund balance was $5.8 million. The City has bonded debt outstanding of $36.8 million for governmental activities and $4.2 million for business type (WPCA). All current outstanding bonded debt will be retired by the year 2021 (current estimate).

Torrington's bond rating is A1.

In 2004, total revenue was $88,444,157: Property Taxes (64.40%), Board of Education Grants (23.44%), Federal & State Grants (7.06%), General Government (3.67%), Public Safety (0.64%), Public Works (0.53%), Invest Income (0.26%), and Recreation (0.01%).

Total expenditures and encumbrances were $88,679,873: Board of Education (53.41%), Public Safety (12.97%), Pension & Miscellaneous (10.58%), Public Works (8.34%), Debt Services (7.69%), General Government (3.49%), Public Health & Social Services (1.99%), Operating Transfers Out (0.85%), Recreation (0.40%), Second Part Budget (0.29%).

Crime statistics

The number of violent crimes recorded by the FBImarker in 2003 was 139. The number of homicides was 0. The violent crime rate was 3.9 per 1,000 people.

Transportation

Three primary state highways meet in downtown Torrington: Route 8marker, Route 4marker, and Route 202. Other major roads include Route 183 and Route 272. The city is served by buses of the Northwestern Connecticut Transit District.

Sports Teams/Events

Baseball

A professional baseball team once located in the city was known as the Torrington Braves, and were a member of the Colonial League. After just one season, 1950, they dispanded.

The Torrington Twisters were a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) from 1997-2008. Torrington during this period had twice played host to the league All-Star Game (1998, 2008) and generally placed high in their division each season. The organization moved to Massachusetts after 2008 to become the New Bedford Bay Sox.

Running

The Torrington Road Race is a five-mile (8 km) run, which coincides with Donor's Week in August. Starting at Coe Memorial Park, the course extends to the farther reaches of the valley, including Riverside Avenue, Migeon Avenue, Prospect Street and others. The race, which started in 1972, primarily includes runners from around Connecticut. Not the magnitude of the Litchfield Hills Road Race in neighboring Litchfieldmarker, the race peaked with 267 finishers in 2003. It has grown to have also attracted some runners each year from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

On the National Register of Historic Places

The Warner Theatre in Torrington, CT.


Notable Residents

  • Abolitionist John Brown was born in Torrington in 1800.
  • Frank Fixaris (1934-2006), notable Mainemarker sportscaster, was born in Torrington and grew up on Prospect St. Coincidently Fixaris' adopted son, Michael, is a direct biological descendent of Torrington native and abolitionist John Brown.
  • Karl Swenson (1908–1978) was an actor who died in Torrington.
  • Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports, was born in Torrington.
  • Carl Clinton Van Doren (1885-1950) a critic, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and brother of Mark Van Doren lived in Torrington.
  • Mark Van Doren (1894–1972), a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, critic, and brother of Carl Clinton Van Doren, lived in Torrington.
  • W. G. Curtis, a homesteader and politician, lived in Torrington and later named the town of Torringtonmarker, Wyomingmarker after his former residence
  • Tracey Thurman, a victim of domestic violence that caught national attention in 1982


References

  1. Torrington was known as Wolcottville, for the Wolcott family of Connecticut, governors, from 1813 until 1881.[1]
4. www.coeparkgardens.com Historical Pages

External links

Railroad station, about 1907



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