On January 14, 1639, a set of legal and administrative regulations called the Fundamental Orders was adopted, and established Connecticut as a self-ruling entity. By 1639 these settlers had started new towns in the surrounding areas. Roger Ludlowe, framer of the Fundamental Orders, purchased the land presently called Fairfield, and established the name. The name "Fairfield" is commendatory.
According to historian John M. Taylor: "Early in 1639, the General Court granted a commission to Ludlowe to begin a plantation at Pequannocke. He was on that errand, with a few others from Windsor, afterwards joined by immigrants from Watertown and Concord. He stole a large tract of land from the Pequannocke sachems, – afterwards greatly enlarged by other purchases to the westward,- and recalling the attractive region beyond (Unquowa), which he had personally seen on the second Pequot expedition, he also “set down” there, having purchased the territory embraced in the present town of Fairfield, to which he gave its name."
Towns created from Fairfield
Fairfield was one of the two principal settlements of the Connecticut Colony in southwestern Connecticut (the other was Stratford). The town line with Stratford was set in May 1661 by John Banks, an early Fairfield settler, Richard Olmstead, and Lt. Joseph Judson, who were both appointed as a committee by the Colony of Connecticut. The town line with Norwalk was not set until May 1685.
Over time, it gave rise to several new towns that broke off and incorporated separately. The following is a list of towns created from parts of Fairfield.
When the American Revolutionary War began in the 1770s, Fairfielders were caught in the crisis as much as, if not more than, the rest of their neighbors in Connecticut. In a predominantly Tory section of the colony, the people of Fairfield were early supporters of the cause for independence. Throughout the war, a constant battle was being fought across Long Island Sound as men from British-controlled Long Island raided the coast in whaleboats and privateers. Gold Selleck Silliman, whose home still stands on Jennings Road, was put in charge of the coastal defenses.
In the spring of 1779, he was kidnapped from his home by Tory forces in preparation for a British raid on Fairfield County. His wife, Mary Silliman watched from their home as, on the morning of July 7, 1779, approximately 2,000 enemy troops landed on Fairfield Beach near Pine Creek Point and proceeded to invade the town. When they left the following evening, the entire town lay in ruins, burned to the ground as punishment for Fairfield's support of the rebel cause. 10 years later, President George Washington noted that after traveling through Fairfield that "the destructive evidence of British cruelty are yet visible both in Norwalk and Fairfield; as there are the chimneys of many burnt houses standing in them yet."
Fairfield recovered slowly from the burning, but soon after the end of the war its houses and public buildings had all been rebuilt.
World War I brought Fairfield out of its agrarian past by triggering an unprecedented economic boom in Bridgeport, which was the center of a large munitions industry at the time. The prosperity created a housing shortage in the city, and many of the workers looked to Fairfield to build their homes. The trolley and later the automobile made the countryside accessible to these newly rich members of the middle class, who brought with them new habits, new attitudes, and new modes of dress. The prosperity lasted throughout the twenties.
By the time of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the population had increased to 17,000 from the 6,000 it had been just before the war. Even during the Depression, the town kept expanding.
The grounding of a barge with two crewmen on Penfield Reef in Fairfield during a gale led to the 1st civilian helicopter hoist rescue in history, on November 29, 1945. The helicopter flew from the nearby Sikorsky Aircraft plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Fairfield became the home of the corporate headquarters of General Electric (GE), one of the world's largest companies. On May 8, 2017, GE relocated to Boston, Massachusetts.
The opening of the Connecticut Turnpike in the 1950s brought another wave of development to Fairfield, and by the 1960s the town's residential, suburban character was firmly established.
Postcard from 1932 showing bathers at Fairfield Beach
Historical Postcard of the Tide Mill Tavern
Fairfield's Burr Homestead in a 1938 photo
Pequot Library in Southport, 1966
Southport Congregational Church, 1966
Historical Woodcut from c1840 Showing Old Town Hall and Town Green
Trinity Church in Southport, 1966
Penfield Reef Lighthouse is located in Long Island Sound off the coast of Fairfield Beach
The "1812 Sycamore" near Town Hall (cut down in 2013)
The town is on the shore of Long Island Sound. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 31.3 square miles (81 km2), of which 30.0 square miles (78 km2) is land and 3.4 square kilometres (1.3 sq mi), or 4.15%, is water. The Mill River, the waters of which feed Lake Mohegan, flows through the town.
Fairfield consists of many neighborhoods. The best known are wealthy Southport, where General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch lived for many years, and Greenfield Hill, with its large green areas, famous dogwood trees, and picturesque green with its white-spired Congregational church. Other well established neighborhoods include Stratfield, Tunxis Hill, the University area, Grasmere, Mill Plain, Knapp's Village, Melville Village, Holland Hill, and the Fairfield Beach area, which has recently undergone a renaissance with the construction of many new homes by residents wishing to live in proximity to the beach and downtown.This has resulted in steadily rising property prices. Two shopping districts in town include the Post Road (U.S. 1) and Black Rock Turnpike.
There are 20,457 households out of which 38.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% are married couples living together, 9.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.4% are non-families. 22.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 15.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.69 and the average family size is 3.19.
In the town, the population is spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 21.1% from 25 to 44, 27.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females, there are 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.6 males.
The median household income (in 2013 dollars) was $117,705 (these figures had risen to $103,352 and $121,749 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males have a median income of $69,525 versus $44,837 for females. The per capita income for the city is $55,733. 2.9% of the population and 1.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 2.8% of those under the age of 18 and 3.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Fairfield is notable for, among other things, its very low crime rate. There have been only three murders in the last five years[when?] in town. Money magazine's 2006 Best Places to Live Survey ranked Fairfield as the second-safest municipality in the United States.
In 2012, Fairfield was ranked 64th in Money magazine's Best Places to live.
Government and politics
Fairfield town vote by party in presidential elections
In 2005, the mill rate of Fairfield was 16.67. The 2012–2013 taxes in Fairfield rose 4% to a mill rate of 23.37. The 2013–2014 mill rate which went into effect on July 1 for fiscal year 2013–2014 also increased by 2.38% to 23.93.
Fairfield Historic District — Old Post Road from Post Road to Turney Road (added 1971). This is the old town center of Fairfield, roughly along Old Post Road between U.S. Route 1 and Turney Road. The area contains Fairfield's town hall, public library, and houses dating from the late 18th century.
The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on the campus of Fairfield University opened in 1990. Its schedule of events includes popular and classical music, dance, theatre, programs for young audiences, and the Open VISIONS Forum lecture series which feature opinion-makers, artists, authors, political commentators, and contributors to the humanities and sciences. The Quick Center houses the 740-seat Kelley Theatre, the 150-seat Lawrence A. Wien Experimental Theatre, and the Thomas J. Walsh Jr. Art Gallery. The Quick Center has become known as one of the finest concert halls in the country and was recognized as the "cultural epicenter of Fairfield County" by Westport Magazine.
The PepsiCo Theatre, a renovated 1922 carriage house on the campus of Fairfield University, is the home to the theatre program of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Theater Fairfield, the resident production company of the university. The PepsiCo Theatre also hosts experimental productions by students, faculty and local professionals.
The Bellarmine Museum of Art on the campus of Fairfield University hosts shows by regional artists and touring exhibitions as well as a permanent collection.
The Gazebo on Sherman Town Green is home to concerts during the summer in the afternoon hours. Free to listen, along with free food and drinks it is a place for entertainment. Many concerts are directed toward an older audience.[clarification needed]
WSHU-FM Public Radio, operated by Sacred Heart University
Fairfield University hosts collegiate athletic competitions open to the public including basketball, baseball, cross-country, field hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis, and volleyball.
Parks and recreation
Fairfield residents enjoy a wealth of recreational opportunities, many of which stem from Fairfield's enviable location on the Long Island Sound.
The town's 5 miles (8 km) of Long Island Sound coastline include five town beaches which are staffed by lifeguards during the summer, and miles of privately owned beach which are open to the public below the high tide mark.
South Benson Marina is a town-owned facility providing 600 boat slips which residents can rent for the summer.
Lake Mohegan, which includes waterfalls called The Cascades, is a popular destination for hiking, as are the Fairfield Audubon Society and the Bird Sanctuary.
Ye Yacht Yard, a town-owned facility on Southport Harbor, provides boat launch services to residents, and access to moorings in Southport Harbor. Ye Yacht Yard is also the location of Community Sailing of Fairfield, whose members share use of two 18-foot sailboats.
The town government consists of the three-member Board of Selectmen, a Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the Board of Finance, a board of education, a Planning and Zoning Commission (TPZ), and many other politically appointed commissions, boards, and committees. The current First Selectman is Michael Tetreau (D).
The town has no criminal or civil court system and all trials are held and handled by the Bridgeport Superior Court system. However, the town does also offer access to a Juvenile Review Board (JRB) for certain juvenile cases outlined by the Fairfield Police Department.
The Fairfield Police Department was created in 1926, approximately 287 years after the town was founded.
The town of Fairfield is protected by the 95 career firefighters of the Fairfield Fire Department (FFD), and volunteer firefighters of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department and Stratfield Volunteer Fire Department. The career Fairfield Fire Department operates five fire stations, located throughout the town, and uses a fire apparatus fleet of five engine companies, one ladder company, one rescue company, three fireboats, and 1 Shift Commander's Unit, as well as many special support, and reserve units. The Southport Volunteer Fire Department has served the community since 1895. The Stratfield Volunteer Fire Department has several stations and has served the community since 1920.
Fairfield has several Catholic schools, including two high schools, Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame, and two primary schools, St. Thomas Aquinas and Our Lady of the Assumption. A third Catholic primary school, Holy Family, was closed by the Diocese of Bridgeport at the end of the 2009–2010 academic year.