Stamford Through the Centuries - 1900's
The beginning of the century marked the end of much of the farm life in Stamford. In the early 1900s country villages in North Stamford changed from farms to suburban neighborhoods.
Stamford becomes a diverse community
During the peak years of immigration from Europe to the United States (between 1900 and 1910), Stamford was one of the fastest growing cities in Connecticut.
Immigrants came from other countries, but people also moved to Stamford from other parts of the United States.
Stamford’s black population grew, as black workers from the South migrated to Stamford to work in the mills and factories.
In 1961 the Stamford Board of Education started integrating the schools, so that all children in Stamford would receive an equal education.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Stamford’s Haitian community began to grow, making it one of the largest in Connecticut.
Murals in Stamford
In 1934, during the Depression, James Daugherty was hired to paint seven large murals for the music room at Stamford High School. This project was part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a program started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide employment for artists. In 1970, when Stamford High was renovated, these murals were thrown in a dumpster by the workmen. They were rescued by a student, cut in pieces and stored. One of the murals “School Activities” hangs at UCONN Stamford. Another mural “New England Tradition” was restored and can now be seen at The Ferguson Library at Bedford and Broad Streets.
Stamford was the home of the largest glacial rock in the Northeast, called “Rimmon Rock”. Located in North Stamford at the corner of Saddle Hill Road (near Rock Rimmon and Briar Brae Roads), the boulder was 45 feet high and about 120 feet around. Archeological research at the base of the rock in the 1970s found Indian-made flint and quartz tools that were more than 4000 years old.
Changes in Stamford’s government in the 20th century:
There was a serious fire in town hall in 1904. The second Old Town Hall was built on Atlantic Street to replace it. This town hall opened in 1906. The city government operated from this building until 1963. In 2007 a project was begun to renovate this old town hall. It now houses a ballet school and has other public space.
In 1933, the city’s charter was revised. It now provided for a full-time mayor, city council and board of finance.
In 1947 a consolidated charter merged city and town government and expanded the overall size of the government in Stamford.
In 1986 Stamford’s government offices moved into the building at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Tresser Street now known as the Stamford Government Center. The site was originally built by G.T.E. for its own use, and was sold to the city. Before the city bought the G.T.E. building, the former Rippowam High School building on High Ridge Road was also considered as a location for the government offices.
In 1995 Dannel P. Malloy was elected mayor of Stamford. He served four terms, longer than anyone else who had that job in Stamford. Michael Pavia was elected mayor in 2009.
By about 1900, the first automobiles could be seen on the streets of Stamford. By 1927 buses had replaced most of the trolleys that ran through Stamford. The last trolley run took place in 1933.
In 1934 work began on the Merritt Parkway, named for Stamford’s own Schuyler Merritt. The parkway was built by men who needed work during the Great Depression. It was opened in 1938.
In 1956 the CT Turnpike opened. To further help with the traffic on the Boston Post Road, a second expressway was planned that would allow trucks and other commercial vehicles as well as cars. This became the Connecticut Turnpike, which is part of Interstate 95 (known as I-95). I-95 runs in a mostly north/south direction up the east coast of the U.S from Florida to Maine. The section through Stamford goes east/west.
In 1980 Stamford released plans for a new railroad station. Construction did not begin until 1983, and the Stamford Transportation Center was completed and opened in 1987. There were problems with the station from the beginning and a renovation was completed in 2003 that corrected many of the problems. The renovation added tracks and made it easier for pedestrians to walk to the train station. Amtrak trains and commuter trains run by Metro North Railroad serve Stamford’s train station.
Downtown Stamford changes:
In 1911 the Ferguson Library opened at its present location at the corners of Bedford and Broad Streets.
In 1913 the new Stamford Hospital opened.
In 1960 the city started a process of urban renewal, making plans to improve Stamford’s downtown. The decision was made to hire one company to supervise the whole process. Ads were placed all over the country, including in The Wall Street Journal newspaper, to find the right company for the job. After ten companies were interviewed, F.D. Rich Company from Stamford was chosen. The changes to downtown were made over many years and the building of the Landmark office buildings and of St. John’s Towers (a high-rise apartment complex completed in 1971) were the result of urban renewal.
In 1982 The Stamford Town Center opened with department stores Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and J.C. Penney.
In 1994 the Downtown Special Services District (DSSD) was established and funded by taxes on local stores and businesses.
The DSSD has done many things to make downtown more welcoming, from starting the Downtown Ambassador’s program (men and women who patrol downtown on bikes to help pedestrians and answer questions) to hosting special events.
In 1998 the University of Connecticut (UCONN) Stamford moved to its current location downtown, which was previously Bloomingdales department store.