Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Welcome to Main Street, Danbury, CT

The inspiration for this blog came together from many sources. I have been reading the non-fiction work of James Howard Kunstler on sustainable and livable cities, and in particular the volumes The Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere. I recently acquired a digital camera. I just went to a workshop today on the use of "social software" in libraries.* Last but not least, I needed to develop a program for my local library for my final project in ILS 561, Public Libraries, at Southern Connecticut State University.

I have always been an architecture buff, much preferring the classical lines of the 19th and early 20th century to most of today's utilitarian, but unbeautiful, structures. (Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the few who designed buildings that were both beautiful and functional.) Downtown Danbury has suffered much over the last twenty years since the mall opened in 1986, but many beautiful buildings from the beginning of the 20th century and earlier still survive. It is my hope that this project will become a collaboration of all the people of Danbury and will help to inspire a wave of renewed interest in enjoying and preserving the best of our heritage. Main Street will be our primary focus, but from time to time we will venture out from the center, never more than a five or ten minute walk from Main Street, to see what a livable city looks like in its totality. And occasionally we will look at buildings that just don't fit in, and analyze why they don't.

*The workshop was presented at Darien Public Library by Jenny Levine and Michael Stephens. If you ever get a chance to see their "Roadshow," do not miss it!


Anonymous said...

I have noticed the cathedral design
inside of some of the banks which I really enjoy. I just get lost looking up, a stary sky experience during the day inside.
SBD on Main Street.
-- SRC --

Sharon said...

Main Street has several excellent bank buildings. I'll be sure to get some interior photos, too, when I get to those. Thank you SRC for reminding me.

Anonymous said...

Kind of stumbled upon your blog. This is wonderful. I am not a native Danburian, but I can still sense that much has been lost over the years, with much of the city's commerce moving to the mall or to the strips of Rtes. 6 and 7. I was recently walking around Ridgefield, and despairing that I would have no reason to do likewise in Danbury. It would be wonderful if better housing could have been developed with reach of Main St.

Sharon said...

Thanks so much for visiting. Please come back often! There's an RSS feed available over in the left-hand margin, if you want to be notified when there's a new post.

Yes, downtown Danbury took quite a hit when the mall opened at the old fairgrounds. But it's coming back, although not quite in the same form. There are shops, and restaurants, and convenience stores, and it gets better all the time. A new apartment high-rise is going up on Crosby Street at the site of the old lumber yard, and that will bring more folks in. And there are plans for some upscale condos to occupy the big empty that used to be Amphenol, that used to be the first shopping "mall" that was still in operation when I first moved here. So I have a lot of optimism for downtown.

Anonymous said...

Hi- Danbury's Main Street is listed on the National Register of Historic places. The Danbury Railway Museum was where Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" was filmed. It is the birthplace of Charles Ives who won a Pulitzer Prize for his music. You can visit his homestead in Danbury and see the Pulitzer on the wall and his gorgeous piano. P.T. Barnum once spent time at the Old Jail on Main Street (now the Danbury Senior Center) for libel. It was once the "Hat Capitol" of the world. Stetson hats were originally made here. Meekers Hardware store on White Street is also listed on the National Register of Historic places.