Originally published in 1979 and now in its third printing, this definitive volume chronicles the history of the community of Norwalk from its seventeenth-century origins until the post-1955-flood era leading up to 1960.
From the jacket description:
“This is not just another town history sketched against the background of the local scene. Rather, it is a thoroughly researched and fascinating panoramic account of the growth of a Connecticut town from the time the first settlers arrived in 1651 until it became one of the state’s foremost cities of the Atlantic seaboard megalopolis. The opening chapters, which cover subjects such as dealing with the Indians, settling the town, establishing the church and government, building the first mills, and providing other necessary town services, give the reader an unusual insight into the social, religious, and economic life of Colonial America.
As an early hub for agricultural enterprises, Norwalk soon developed into an important port. Several sea-related occupations brought new faces and problems to eighteenth-century Norwalk, but helped to lay a strong economic foundation for the future as well as bring prosperity to the town until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. One of the highlights of the book is the account of the colonies’ break with England and Norwalk’s participation in the Revolution, culminating with the burning of the town by the British.
By the time peace had returned, Norwalkers had rebuilt their homes and were expecting to resume the comfortable pace of small-town life. This was not to be, however, for they were on the threshold of an age of economic and political transition. Henceforth, Norwalk was to be tied to national policy, as well as social and economic conditions which would be constantly changing.
There follows the story of Norwalk’s entry into the industrial age, the struggles with immigration and assimilation of newcomers into the community, the development of new industries, and the consequences of these changes.
The text sparkles as the authors describe the growth and death of the oyster industry, take the reader through the intricate hat-making process, give a first-hand account of labor disputes, and recount how Norwalk and South Norwalk finally achieved their merger.
Readers who have lived through World War I, the Depression of the 1930s, World War II, the postwar period of adjustment, the explosive growth of the schools, the exodus from the cities to the suburbs, and the disastrous flood of 1955 will find the latter chapters of especial interest.
The chronicle closes with a recounting of the problems of urban renewal after the flood, which led to a more attractive and greatly revitalized city.”