Fairfield County is the southwestern-most and most populous county of the U.S. state of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the county's population was 916,829, estimated to have increased by 3.1% to 945,438 in 2014. The county contains four of the state's largest cities (Bridgeport (1st), Stamford (3rd), Norwalk (6th) and Danbury (7th)), whose combined population of 433,368 is almost half the county's.
The United States Office of Management and Budget has designated Fairfield County as the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metropolitan Statistical Area. The United States Census Bureau ranked the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metropolitan Statistical Area as the 57th most populous metropolitan statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012. The Office of Management and Budget has further designated the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT Metropolitan Statistical Area as a component of the more extensive New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area, the most populous combined statistical area and primary statistical area of the United States as of July 1, 2012.
As is the case with all eight of Connecticut's counties, there is no county government and no county seat. As an area it is only a geographical point of reference. In Connecticut the cities and towns are responsible for all local governmental activities including fire and rescue, schools, and snow removal; in a few cases, neighboring towns will share certain resources.
Fairfield County's Gold Coast helped rank it sixth in the US in per-capita personal income by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2005, contributing substantially to Connecticut being one of the most affluent states in the US. Other communities are more densely populated and economically diverse than the affluent areas for which the county is better known.
In addition to some of the most expensive land in the United States, Fairfield County holds the historic Merritt Parkway, America's first parkway, known for its beautiful scenery and intricate design through quiet forest and countryside as an alternative to congested Interstate-95.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 2.1 Land
- 2.2 Water
- 2.3 Mountains and summits
- 2.4 Adjacent counties
- 2.5 National protected areas
- 3 Demographics
- 3.1 Demographic breakdown by town
- 3.2 Presidential election results
- 4 Government and municipal services
- 4.1 County municipal buildings
- 4.2 Law enforcement
- 4.3 Judicial
- 4.4 Fire protection
- 4.5 Education
- 4.6 Crime Rate
- 5 Economy
- 6 Hospitals
- 7 Transportation
- 7.1 Mass transit
- 7.1.1 Air
- 7.1.2 Bus service
- 7.1.3 Ferry service
- 7.1.4 Rail
- 7.2 Major roads
- 7.2.1 Boston Post Road
- 7.2.2 Interstate 95
- 7.2.3 Merritt Parkway
- 7.2.4 Interstate 84
- 7.2.5 U.S. Route 7
- 7.2.6 Connecticut Route 8
- 7.2.7 Connecticut Route 25
- 8 Sports
- 9 Communities
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
- 12.1 Major media in the county
- 12.1.1 Countywide
- 12.1.2 Daily newspapers covering the county
- 126.96.36.199 Published within the county
- 188.8.131.52 Published outside the county
- 12.1.3 Spanish language newspapers
- 12.1.4 Hyperlocal coverage
- 12.1.5 Broadcast media and cable television
- 12.2 Colleges
- 12.3 Culture and the arts
- 12.3.1 Fine Arts
- 12.3.2 Music: orchestras in the county
- 12.3.3 Other music and arts events
- 12.4 History and culture links
- 12.5 Tourism links
- 12.6 County business associations and institutions
Fairfield County was the home of many Native American tribes prior to the coming of the Europeans. People of the Schaghticoke tribe lived in the area of present-day New Fairfield and Sherman. From east to west the Wappinger sachemships included the Paugussetts, Tankiteke, and the Siwanoy. There were also Paquioque and Potatuck inhabitants of Fairfield County. The Dutch explorer Adriaen Block explored coastal Connecticut in the Spring and early Summer of 1614 in the North American built vessel Onrust. The first European settlers of the county, however, were Puritans and Congregationalists from England. Roger Ludlow (1590â€“1664), one of the founders of the Colony of Connecticut, helped to purchase and charter the towns of Fairfield (1639) and Norwalk (purchased 1640, chartered as a town in 1651). Ludlow is credited as having chosen the name Fairfield. Fairfield is a descriptive name referring to the beauty of their fields. The town of Stratford was settled in 1639 as well by Adam Blakeman (1596â€“1665). William Beardsley (1605â€“1661) was also one of the first settlers of Stratford in 1639.
Fairfield County was established by an act of the Connecticut General Court in Hartford along with Hartford County, New Haven County, and New London County; which were the first four Connecticut counties, on May 10, 1666. From transcriptions of the Connecticut Colonial Records for that day:
- This Court orders that from the east bounds of Stratford
- to ye bounds of Rye shalbe for future one County wch
- shalbe called the County of Fairfield. And it is ordered
- that the County Court shalbe held at Fairfield on the second
- Tuesday in March and the first Tuesday of November
- yearely. (sic)
A 1799 map of Connecticut. From Low's Encyclopaedia.
The original Fairfield County consisted of the towns of Rye, Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk, Fairfield, and Stratford. In 1673, the town of Woodbury was incorporated and added to Fairfield County. In 1683, New York and Connecticut reached a final agreement regarding their common border. This resulted in the cession of the town of Rye and all claims to the Oblong to New York. From the late 17th to early 18th centuries, several new towns were incorporated in western Connecticut and added to Fairfield County, namely Danbury (1687), Ridgefield (1709), Newtown (1711), and New Fairfield (1740). In 1751, Litchfield County was constituted, taking over the town of Woodbury. The final boundary adjustment to Fairfield County occurred in 1788 when the town of Brookfield was incorporated from parts of Newtown, Danbury, and New Milford, with Fairfield County gaining territory from Litchfield County.
Other early county inhabitants include:
- Joseph Hawley (born 1603 in England; died 1690), who had emigrated to America in 1629 and then settled in Stratford in 1650, later becoming Stratford's first town clerk. Joseph Hawley's son Ephraim built the Ephraim Hawley House in 1683 in Trumbull that is still standing and serves as a private residence.
- Thomas Fitch (c. 1700â€“1774), from Norwalk, was a governor of the Colony of Connecticut.
- Gold Selleck Silliman (1732â€“1790) of the town of Fairfield fought for the Americans during the American Revolutionary War and rose to the rank of Brigadier General by 1776. He fought in the New York campaign that year.
Preparing to re-launch the USS G-3
with sponsons from the Lake Torpedo Boat Company in Bridgeport, December 9, 1915
A 1930s Sikorsky S-42 constructed in Stratford
During the Revolutionary War, Connecticut's prodigious agricultural output led to it being known informally as "the Provisions State". In the spring of 1777, the British Commander-in-Chief, North America General William Howe, in New York City, ordered William Tryon to interrupt the flow of supplies from Connecticut that were reaching the Continental Army. Tryon and Henry Duncan led a fleet of 26 ships carrying 2,000 men to Westport's Compo Beach to raid Continental Army supply depots in Danbury on April 22, 1777. American Major General David Wooster (1710â€“1777), who was born in Stratford, was in charge of the stores at Danbury and defended them with a force of only 700 troops. Sybil Ludington helped rally New York militia to aid in the defense of Danbury. The New York militia included Sybil's father Colonel Henry Ludington. Though they arrived too late to save Danbury from burning, the elder Ludington and the New York militia helped support the Danbury troops and ensuing engagement of the British known as the Battle of Ridgefield on April 27, 1777. Wooster was wounded at Ridgefield and died five days later in Danbury.
Two years later during a British raid on Greenwich on February 26, 1779 General Israel Putnam, who had stayed at Knapp's Tavern the previous night, rode away on his horse to warn the people of Stamford. Putnam was shot at by the British raiders but was able to escape. The hat he was wearing with a musket ball hole in it is on display at Knapp's Tavern in Greenwich (which is commonly, albeit somewhat erroneously, called Putnam's cottage). In the summer of 1779, General William Tryon sought to punish Americans by attacking civilian targets in coastal Connecticut with a force of about 2,600 British troops. New Haven was raided on July 5, Fairfield was raided on the 7th and burned. Norwalk was raided on July 10 and burned on the 11th. Norwalk militia leader Captain Stephen Betts put up resistance to the invaders, but was overwhelmed by the powerful British raiders and was forced to retreat.
David Sherman Boardman (1786â€“1864) was a prominent early lawyer and judge in this and neighboring Litchfield County.
On October 7, 1801, Neremiah Dodge and other members of the Danbury Baptist Association wrote a letter to then president Thomas Jefferson expressing their concern that as Baptists they may not be able to express full religious liberty in the state of Connecticut whose "ancient charter" was adopted before the establishment of a Baptist church in the state. Jefferson replied in a letter to Dodge and the other members of the Danbury church on January 1, 1802 in which he thought that there was "a wall of separation between church and State" that protected them. This well-known phrase occurs in Jefferson's letter to the Danbury church members and not in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, nor in later amendments.
Although it is often viewed as an extension of metro-New York City, Fairfield County has had much industry in its own right. Bridgeport Machines, Inc., a milling machine manufacturer, was founded in Bridgeport in 1938. Stamford, Connecticut is an example of edge city urbanization, with many large and important companies having offices there and benefitting from proximity to New York.
At the height of its influence in the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan had a distinct presence in the county and county politics. The group was most active in Darien. The Klan has since disappeared from the county.
Fairfield County, along with all other Connecticut counties, was abolished as a governmental agency in accord with state legislation that took effect October 1, 1960.
Lake Candlewood in the northern part of the county in the Appalachian Mountains, where the Taconics and Berkshires come fairly close to each other
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 837 square miles (2,170 km2), of which 625 square miles (1,620 km2) is land and 212 square miles (550 km2) (25.3%) is water.
The terrain of the county trends from flat near the coast to hilly and higher near its northern extremity. The highest elevation is 1,290 feet (393 m) above sea level along the New York state line south of Branch Hill in the Town of Sherman; the lowest point is sea level itself.
The Taconic Mountains and the Berkshire Mountains ranges of the Appalachian Mountains run through Fairfield County. The Taconics begin roughly in Ridgefield and the Berkshires begin roughly in Northern Trumbull, both running north to Litchfield County and beyond. A portion of the Taconics also is in rural Greenwich and rural North Stamford in Fairfield County and run north into Westchester County, New York, eventually re-entering Fairfield County in Ridgefield. Also a small portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the county. The Appalachian Trail enters Connecticut in the northernmost and least populous town in the county, Sherman, and moves east into Litchfield County which encompasses the majority of the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut.
The section of the Taconic Mountains range that runs through Greenwich and North Stamford of Fairfield County is also the part of the Appalachians that is closest to the coast out of the entire Appalachian Mountains.
The agreed 1684 territorial limits of the county are defined as 20 miles (32 km) east of New York's Hudson River, which extends into Long Island Sound with a southernly limit of half way to Long Island, New York. The eastern limit is mostly a natural border defined as the half way point of the Housatonic River with New Haven County with the exception of several islands belonging wholly to Stratford. The depth of the Sound varies between 60 to 120 feet (37 m).
The county is home to the Byram River, Housatonic River, Mianus River, Mill River, Norwalk River, Pequonnock River, Rippowam River, Saugatuck River, and the Still River.
Rings End Bridge, in Darien.
Huntington State Park with about 2 miles across of wilderness
The Still River is polluted with mercury nitrate from the hat industry in Danbury, which has flowed into the Housatonic River and into Long Island Sound.
The Housatonic River is polluted with Monsanto chemicals called Aroclor, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. From circa 1932 until 1977, the river received PCBs pollution discharges from the General Electric plant at Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Mountains and summits
Refer to List of Mountains and Summits in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
- Litchfield County (north)
- New Haven County (east)
- Westchester County, New York (southwest)
- Putnam County, New York (west)
- Dutchess County, New York (northwest)
- Nassau County, New York (south)
- Suffolk County, New York (south)
National protected areas
- Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (part)
- Weir Farm National Historic Site
|U.S. Decennial Census
1990-2000 2010 and 2014