Darien, Connecticut

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Darien, Connecticut
Town of Darien
BostonPostRoadDarienCT.jpg
Boston Post Road in Darien's retail district
Darien, CT Flag.gif
Darien, CT Seal.png
Fairfield County Connecticut incorporated and unincorporated areas Darien highlighted.svg
Darien, Connecticut
Darien, Connecticut
Darien, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°03′04″N73°28′45″W / 41.05111°N 73.47917°W / 41.05111; -73.47917
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
U.S. state Flag of Connecticut.svg  Connecticut
County Fairfield
Region Western CT
Incorporated1820
Government
  Type Representative town meeting
  First selectmanMonica McNally (R)
  SelectmenJon Zagrodzky (R)
Marcy Minnick (R)
Michael Burke (D)
Sarah Neumann (D)
[1] [2]
Area
  Total23.4 sq mi (60.6 km2)
  Land12.9 sq mi (33.4 km2)
  Water10.6 sq mi (27.4 km2)
Elevation
52 ft (16 m)
Population
 (2020)
  Total21,499
  Density1,666.6/sq mi (643.5/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Code
06820
Area code(s) 203/475
FIPS code 09-18850
GNIS feature ID0213416
Website www.darienct.gov

Darien ( /ˌdɛəriˈæn/ DAIR-ee-AN) is a coastal town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. With a population of 21,499 and a land area of just under 13 square miles (34 km2), it is the smallest town on Connecticut's Gold Coast. [3] The town is part of the Western Connecticut Planning Region. It has a high rate of marriage, and high average number of children per household. [4]

Contents

Situated on the Long Island Sound, between the cities of Stamford and Norwalk, the town of Darien is a bedroom community of New York City in the New York metropolitan area (the town has relatively few office buildings), as many residents commute to New York via Metro-North. [5] There are two railroad stations in Darien, Noroton Heights and Darien, linking the town to Grand Central Terminal. There are eleven parks, [6] public beaches, and the Noroton Yacht Club.

History

According to early records, the first clearings of land were made by men from the New Haven and Wethersfield colonies and from Norwalk in about 1641. It was not until 1739, however, that the Middlesex Society of the Town of Stamford built the first community church, now the First Congregational Church of Darien, which stands on the original site at the corner of Brookside Road and the Boston Post Road. [7]

Tories raided the town several times during the American Revolution; at one point, they took 26 men in the parish prisoner for five months, including the Reverend Moses Mather, pastor of the parish. The Loyalist-Patriot conflict in Darien is the setting for the novel Tory Hole, the first book by children's author Louise Hall Tharp. Middlesex Parish was incorporated as the Town of Darien in 1820.

Contentment Island, c. 1914 PostcardDarienCTContentmentIsland1914.jpg
Contentment Island, c.1914

According to the Darien Historical Society, [8] the name Darien was decided upon when the residents of the town could not agree on a name to replace Middlesex Parish, many families wanting it to be named after themselves. Some proposed naming the town "Belleville" in honor of Thaddeus Bell, a veteran of the revolutionary war. He apparently rejected the honor while supporting the Darien option. [9] A sailor who had traveled to Isthmus of Darien, [10] then part of the Spanish Empire, suggested the name Darien, which was eventually adopted by the people of the town. The town name is pronounced /dɛəriˈæn/ (like "Dairy-Ann"), with stress on the last syllable, and has been referred to as such at least as far back as 1913. [11] Residents say this is still the proper pronunciation. "You can always tell when someone is not from here, because they do pronounce it the way it's spelled," Louise Berry, director of the town library, said in a 2006 interview. [12]

Darien was mostly white Protestant through the middle of the twentieth century, [13] but by the twenty-first century it had become a multi-ethnic town with residents of many religions and backgrounds. One of seven households report speaking a language other than English at home. The town's exclusive policies in the early 20th century were similar to other segregated suburbs of the time, including Beverly Hills, California and Tuxedo Park, New York. [14] There were events involving anti-Black racism and anti-Semitism in the 1930s and 1940s, with Darien being a prototypical sundown town. [15] [16]

Darien is one of the few municipalities in Connecticut that comply with the State's mandate to report the racial and ethnic makeup of people stopped by the police. 82% of the people stopped are white, 12% are Black, and 15% are Hispanic. [17]

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.8 square miles (38 km2), of which 12.9 square miles (33 km2) is land and 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2), or 13.41%, is water.

Highways include Interstate 95.

It also has two Metro-North railroad stations for commuter trains into New York City, Noroton Heights and Darien.

Darien is bordered on the west by Stamford, on the north by New Canaan, and on the east by Norwalk. On the south it faces Long Island Sound and the North Shore of Long Island. It is part of the "panhandle" of Connecticut jutting into New York state.

Sections of Darien

Noroton Presbyterian Church in Darien Darien, Connecticut church.jpg
Noroton Presbyterian Church in Darien

Climate

Darien has a humid continental climate, similar to that of New York City, with warm to hot summers and cold winters. The highest recorded temperature was 103 °F (39 °C) in July 1966, while the lowest recorded temperature was −15 °F (−26 °C) in 1968. [19] Snowfall is generally frequent in winter while average precipitation is most common in September.

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
1820 1,126
1850 1,454
1860 1,70517.3%
1870 1,8086.0%
1880 1,9497.8%
1890 2,27616.8%
1900 3,11636.9%
1910 3,94626.6%
1920 4,1846.0%
1930 6,95166.1%
1940 9,22232.7%
1950 11,76727.6%
1960 18,43756.7%
1970 20,33610.3%
1980 18,892−7.1%
1990 18,196−3.7%
2000 19,6077.8%
2010 20,7525.8%
2020 21,4993.6%
U.S. Decennial Census [20]

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,607 people, 6,592 households, and 5,385 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,525.2 inhabitants per square mile (588.9/km2). There were 6,792 housing units at an average density of 203.9 inhabitants/km2 (528.3 persons/sq mi). The racial makeup of the town was 95.97% White, 0.45% African American, 0.04% Native American, 2.42% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.19% of the population.

There were 6,592 households, out of which 46.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.5% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a woman whose husband did not live with her, and 18.3% were non-families. Of all households 15.6% were made up of individuals, and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.95 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 32.5% under the age of 18, 3.0% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.7 males.

In 2019, the median household income was $232,523 and the per capita income for the town was $116,564. [21]

Arts and culture

Annual events

Library

Darien's library was founded in 1894. Andrew Carnegie offered funds for a library, and was rejected. [25] The Darien Library is the most heavily utilized library in Connecticut. [26]

Landmarks

Autumn in Stony Brook Park DarienCTStonyBrookParkLookingWest11172007.JPG
Autumn in Stony Brook Park

Parks and recreation

Floral decorations Darien, Connecticut main street.jpg
Floral decorations

Parks and beaches

Darien maintain 11 parks comprising 203 acres (82 ha) of land. [27] Approximately 30 acres (12 ha) of parkland is shoreline beaches on Long Island Sound. [27] Weed Beach features a beach and swimming area, clubhouse, playground, picnic area, concession stand, and tennis and paddle courts. [28]

In 2022, the town purchased a 60-acre (24 ha) island, Great Island, from the estate William Ziegler. [29]

The Darien Community Association bird sanctuary is a 4-acre (1.6 ha) woodland behind Meadowlands manor. [30]

Recreation

The Darien Ice House is an ice rink. [31]

Founded in 1928,[ citation needed ] Noroton Yacht Club runs the largest junior sailing program in the United States. [18]

Government

Elected bodies in the town government are a five-member Board of Selectmen, a nine-member Board of Education, a seven-member Board of Finance, a six-member Planning and Zoning Commission, three-member Board of Assessment Appeals, and a 100-member, nonpartisan Representative Town Meeting. The town has several elective offices as well: the town clerk, probate judge, registrar of voters, tax collector and treasurer. [32]

The Board of Finance approves financial measures, including the town budget; the Board of Education controls the town's public schools; the Representative Town Meeting is the main legislative body of the town.

United States Congress

SenatorsNamePartyAssumed officeLevel
 Senate Class 1 Richard Blumenthal Democratic 2011Senior Senator
 Senate Class 3 Chris Murphy Democratic 2013Junior Senator
RepresentativesNamePartyAssumed office
 District 4 Jim Himes Democratic 2009

Connecticut General Assembly

Connecticut State Senate

DistrictNamePartyAssumed office
 25 Bob Duff Democratic 2001
 26 Ceci Maher Democratic 2023
 27 Patricia Billie Miller Democratic 2021

Connecticut House of Representatives

DistrictNamePartyAssumed office
 125 Tom O'Dea Republican 2013
 141 Tracy Marra Republican 2023

Presidential election results

Historically, Darien has been a solidly Republican town; but in 2016, in spite of the Republican climate nationwide, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first Democrat to win in Darien since 1888 when Grover Cleveland beat Benjamin Harrison by two votes. [33] The pattern resembled one in suburban areas across the country that swung hard into the Democratic column due to the Republican Party being increasingly dominated by Donald Trump and right-wing populism which alienated the more moderate base, a trend referred to as the suburban revolt. [34] In 2020, this trend continued, with Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden winning over 60% of the vote and U.S. Representative Jim Himes winning it for the first time in his political career.

Darien was one of only five towns in Connecticut that backed former Ohio Governor John Kasich over Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. Kasich received 1,284 votes (48.89%), ahead of Trump who garnered 1,070 votes (41.54 percent) and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas with 186 votes (7.22 percent). [35] In the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton won 832 votes (69.51%) in Darien, far ahead of self-described democratic socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont with 363 votes (30.33%), reflecting the town’s moderate political identity.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 27, 2020 [36]
PartyActive votersInactive votersTotal votersPercentage
Republican 5,5883335,92157.92%
Democratic 3,7281723,90038.15%
Unaffiliated 189112001.96%
Minor parties190112011.97%
Total9,69552710,222100%

Taxes

Darien has the lowest property taxes of the Fairfield County suburbs of its size, with a mill rate of 15.35 being consistently lower than New Canaan at 15.985 and Westport at 18.09 (rates as of 2016). [37] [38]

Environmental sustainability

The town of Darien is part of "Sustainable Fairfield County"—a cooperative organization made up of ten Fairfield County communities that have joined forces to help advance environmental sustainability and responsibility county-wide. The other municipalities include Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton. [39]

Education

Darien is served by the Darien Public Schools, and Darien High School was ranked No. 1 in the "U.S. News Best High Schools in Connecticut" in 2019. The school also ranked in the top 150 in the national rankings, and in the top 50 in STEM high schools in the United States. [40] Darien has five elementary schools: Hindley School, Holmes School, Ox Ridge School, Royle School, and Tokeneke School. A $27 million addition was completed in 2000 to the town's middle school, Middlesex Middle School, and a new $73 million campus for Darien High School was completed in the fall of 2005. [18] Darien sports teams go by the name of the "Blue Wave".

Pear Tree Point School, originally named Plumfield School, was a private school on Long Neck, educating students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 5. The school was closed in summer 2018. [41] [42]

Media

Darien is served by a local print/online weeklies, the Darien Times , four exclusively online local news websites, Darienite, [43] HamletHub Darien, [44] the Darien Patch [45] and The Daily Voice, Darien. [46] A monthly magazine known as New Canaan and Darien Magazine is also published covering Darien, New Canaan, and Rowayton (a section of the city of Norwalk). [47] Sound Watch Magazine. [48] is another monthly publication, founded in 2019, dedicated to local news and history of the area. Most public meetings are filmed and broadcast live, and recorded for later broadcast by Cablevision's Channel 79 Government Access. [49]

Film

Films at least partially filmed in Darien with release date include: [50] [ unreliable source? ]

Infrastructure

Emergency services

Ambulance service

Post 53 headquarters Post53BldgDarienCT70192007.JPG
Post 53 headquarters

An ambulance service, known as "Darien EMS – Post 53" is the only ambulance service in the nation staffed and run entirely by high school student volunteers, covers one of the deadliest stretches of Interstate 95, and responds to over 1,500 emergency calls annually. [54] The Explorer post is chartered under the Connecticut Yankee Council, and is considered a scouting unit. The service provides emergency care at no cost to the patient, funded entirely by private donations from town residents. Teenagers are allowed to perform patient care due to the fact that Connecticut is one of the few states in the nation which allows emergency medical technicians to be certified at age 16. [55]

Students start training while they are in their freshman year of high school. They are elected by current members of Post and then they continue their training supervised by trained adults, Post 53 lets in 20 teenagers a year to join the crew, and includes boys and girls.

Fire Department

The town of Darien is protected by three independent all-volunteer fire departments in three fire districts. [56]

Police Department

The Darien Police Department is composed of 51 sworn officers, 18 traffic agents, 12 civilian employees and is headquartered at 25 Hecker Avenue in Darien, CT. The Department maintains a fleet of 30 vehicles which includes 13 marked patrol units, a motorcycle, a 27-foot (8.2 m) SAFEboat, a special services vehicle, undercover vehicles and administrative vehicles. The Department acts as the Public Safety Answering Point for all 911 and non-emergency Police, Fire and medical-related calls within the Town of Darien, CT. [57]

Transportation

The town is served by two train stations, Noroton Heights and Darien station.

The Connecticut Turnpike (Interstate 95) and Post Road (U.S. Route 1.) pass through Darien. Interstate 95 has rest stops in Darien for the southbound and northbound lanes. [58]

Notable people

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References

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  6. "Welcome to the Town of Darien, Connecticut – Beach/Park Permits". www.darienct.gov.
  7. Adapted from: Case & Cooper 1935
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Further reading