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Derby, Connecticut
Annual fireworks display from the Derby-Shelton Bridge
Annual fireworks display from the Derby-Shelton Bridge
Flag of Derby, Connecticut
Flag
Official seal of Derby, Connecticut
Seal
Motto(s): 
"Connecticut's Smallest City"
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Derby, Connecticut is located in Connecticut
Derby, Connecticut
Derby, Connecticut
Location in Connecticut
Derby, Connecticut is located in the United States
Derby, Connecticut
Derby, Connecticut
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Connecticut
Region  New England
County New Haven
Metropolitan area Greater New Haven
Settled 1642
Named 1675
Incorporated-town 1775
Incorporated-city 1893
Founded by John Wakeman
Named for Derby, England
Government
 • Type Mayor-Board of Aldermen
Area
 • City 5.41 sq mi (14.00 km2)
 • Land 5.06 sq mi (13.09 km2)
 • Water 0.35 sq mi (0.91 km2)
Highest elevation
469 ft (142 m)
Lowest elevation
3 ft (1 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • City 12,325
 • Rank 19th (CT)
 • Density 2,435.8/sq mi (941.6/km2)
 • Metro
861,113 (US: 60th)
 • CSA
23,076,664 (US: 1st)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
06418
Area code(s) 203/475
FIPS code 09-19480
GNIS feature ID 0206671
Major highways Connecticut Highway 8.svg Connecticut Highway 34.svg
Transportation-rail MTA NYC logo.svg

Derby ('dər-bē) is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, approximately 8 miles west-northwest of New Haven. It is located in southwest Connecticut at the confluence of the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers. It borders the cities of Ansonia to the north and Shelton to the southwest, and the towns of Orange to the south, Seymour to the northwest, and Woodbridge to the east. The population was 12,325 at the 2020 census. It is the smallest city in Connecticut by area, at 5.3 square miles.

Derby was settled in 1642 as an Indian trading post under the name Paugasset. It was named after Derby, England, in 1675. It included what are now Ansonia, Seymour, Oxford, and parts of Beacon Falls.

Derby is home to the first electric trolley system in New England, only the second in the United States. It is also home to the first electric locomotive in U.S. history to be built and successfully used commercially for hauling freight. The locomotive, built in 1888, is still kept in running condition by the Shore Line Trolley Museum.

History

Derby CT
Derby, ca. 1910

Derby was settled in 1642 as an Indian trading post under the name Paugasset. It was named after Derby, England, in 1675.

Derby was incorporated on May 13, 1775.

In the 19th century, both corsets and hoop skirts were manufactured in the city.

In 1872, the Derby Silver Company began production. In 1898, the company became a division of the International Silver Company headquartered in Meriden, CT, but continued making silver with its brand name until 1933.

Charlton Comics, a comic book publishing company that existed from 1944 to 1986, was based in town.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.4 square miles (8.7 km2), of which, 5.0 square miles (13 km2) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) of it (7.41%) is water. The city is home to the 1.4 square kilometres (350 acres) Osbornedale State Park. Derby is divided into two main sections by the Naugatuck River: East Derby and Derby Center (Birmingham). The center of Derby is approximately 66 miles (106 km) from New York City.

Demographics

See also: List of Connecticut locations by per capita income
Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,994
1800 1,878 −37.3%
1810 2,051 9.2%
1820 2,088 1.8%
1830 2,253 7.9%
1840 2,851 26.5%
1850 3,824 34.1%
1860 5,443 42.3%
1870 8,020 47.3%
1880 11,650 45.3%
1890 5,969 −48.8%
1900 7,930 32.9%
1910 8,991 13.4%
1920 11,238 25.0%
1930 10,788 −4.0%
1940 10,287 −4.6%
1950 10,259 −0.3%
1960 12,132 18.3%
1970 12,599 3.8%
1980 12,346 −2.0%
1990 12,199 −1.2%
2000 12,391 1.6%
2010 12,902 4.1%
2020 12,325 −4.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,902 people, 5,388 households, and 3,241 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,563 people per square mile. There were 5,849 housing units at an average density of 1,169.8 per square mile. The racial makeup of the town was 82.08% White, 7.06% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.60% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 4.2% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 14.2% of the population.

There were 5,388 households, out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.6% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 23% under the age of 19, 6.2% from 20 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years.

The median income for a household in the town was $32,438, and the median income for a family was $57,790. The per capita income for the town was $32,438. 12.7% of the population is below the poverty line.

Polish immigration

Polish immigrants have left a large mark on the demographics of the town, with 18% of all residents claiming Polish as their ethnicity and 2% as having been born in Poland. Due to this large population, the town features several Polish shops, restaurants, and clubs. Saint Michael's the Archangel Parish, a Roman Catholic church, serves mass in Polish as well as English.

A high percentage of Derby residents trace their ancestry back to Italy. 27.3% of inhabitants claim Italian ancestry, ranking it 8th in the State of Connecticut. Derby is located in New Haven County, which has one of the highest percentages of Italian-Americans in the United States.

Arts and culture

Derby sites on the National Register of Historic Places

Historical
population
of Derby
1756 1,000
1774 1,889
1782 2,218
1790 2,994
1800 1,878
1810 2,051
1820 2,088
1830 2,253
1840 2,851
1850 3,824
1860 5,443
1870 8,020
1880 11,650
1890 5,969
1900 7,930
1910 8,991
1920 11,238
1930 10,788
1940 10,287
1950 10,259
1960 12,132
1970 12,599
1980 12,346
1990 12,199
2000 12,391
2010 12,902
  • The Kraus Corset Factory, now the Sterling Rowe Apartment House on the corner of Roosevelt Drive and Third Street.
  • Osbornedale, a farm house built in the early nineteenth century.
  • Howe House, built in 1845.
  • Sterling Opera House was built in 1889 to seat 1250, and remained in use until 1945. City Hall and a police station occupied the two lower levels until 1965.
  • Derby Public Library, built in 1902 with Ansonia marble, the library was founded as a free reading room in 1868. The land was provided by the Sarah Riggs Humphreys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, on the condition that the building would always have a room the chapter could use. The chapter also donated $5,000 for books with the stipulation that people in the town raise an equal amount.
  • Birmingham Green Historic District was designated on April 21, 2000, as Derby's sixth site on the National Register of Historic Places.

Landmark

National Humane Alliance Fountain - Derby, CT
This is the National Humane Alliance fountain given to Derby, CT in 1906 and restored in 2007 as a gateway to the Derby Greenway. The fountain has three levels. The top level contains spigots in the shape of lion's heads for humans. Below that is a large circular bowl for horses and at the base are smaller bowls for dogs and cats.

The city has resurrected its National Humane Alliance fountain – a century-old granite structure with lion-head spigots—as part of a gateway entrance plaza at the Division Street entrance to the Derby Greenway. The fountain was given to the City in 1906 by the National Humane Alliance and erected at the intersection of Seymour and Atwater Avenues. The water was first turned on on June 1, 1906. Years later it was moved to Founders Commons when traffic patterns made its original location a problem. It fell into disrepair and was not used as a fountain while on Founders Commons. When the Derby Greenway was built, the fountain was moved to its new location on June 22, 2006, fully restored with new plumbing and new lions heads and formally dedicated with the surrounding Derby Hall of Fame Plaza on September 1, 2007.

Plans for the future

The Howe House "will become home of the Lower Naugatuck Valley Industrial Heritage Center; where the Derby Historical Society's extensive collection of Industrial Era artifacts will be properly displayed. Future educational programs will include student hands-on programs that will introduce the Industrial Revolution and the Valley's active role in this period."



Economics

In 2017, Moody's Investors Service downgraded the city's bond rating from AA to AA-, citing "weak budgetary performance" in 2016.

Grand list

2016 – $1,028,072,826.82

2010 – $1,091,576,401.00

Mill rate

  • Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 – 39.37
  • Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 – 26.40

Notable businesses

  • Aqua Vim (future) – aquarium manufacturer undergoing move from Queens, New York to Derby
  • BADSONS Beer Company (2017–present) – brewery in Derby
  • Charlton Comics (1944–1986) – comic book company based in Derby
  • Curved Glass Distributors (1970–present) – glass manufacturer based in Derby
  • Derby Silver Company (1872–1933) – international silver company based in Derby
  • Dew Drop Inn (2008–present) – voted Connecticut Magazine's best wings in Connecticut 2017–18
  • Griffin Hospital (1909–present) – community hospital, largest employer in Derby, with 1,357 employees (2010)
  • THC – The Hops Company (2015–present) – voted Connecticut Magazine's best Beer Garden in Connecticut 2017 and Best Beer Bar in Connecticut 2017–18

Redevelopment projects

Factory Street Square

In 2018, a development group working with the owners of the Baretta Landscaping property submitted a conceptual design to the planning and zoning commission for a four-phase 400-unit high density residential and commercial development on Factory Street in downtown Derby. The project, called Factory Street Square, was to be built in four phases over the next four to six years on unused light industrial property. The proposed buildings would sit on five acres of near-vacant land, and would be four stories high with first floor retail shops and restaurants, with residential space above. The project, tailored toward attracting Millennials and empty nesters to the area, will offer amenities not seen in other residential complexes in the city, including a health club; indoor golf simulator; rooftop garden; dog-sitting, walking, and grooming service; and an in-complex library. The site is located one block from rail and bus lines that meet at the Derby-Shelton Railroad Station, making the project a transit-oriented development. The project was expected to begin in late 2019 to early 2020.

South side of Main Street

Since 2003, the city and state have been demolishing buildings on the south side of Main Street (Connecticut Route 34) in order to widen the roadway from two to four lanes divided by a median. Multiple development projects have been proposed, from high density mixed use to big-box retail plazas, but none have been successful. In 2019, the last four buildings on the south side of Main Street were demolished; following delays, the widening project had a tentative construction start date of early 2020. The Factory Street Square project is the most recent proposal. Rather than attempting to redevelop the entire 23-acre parcel, the proposal only encompasses five acres.

Pershing Square Shopping Center

In 2014, Valley Bowl, a popular local bowling alley, was razed to erect a modern shopping plaza and realign an offset intersection. New retailers were an Aldi Supermarket, Panera Bread, PetValu, AT&T, and Popeyes. The realignment of the entrance was a joint venture between the Pershing Square developers and the developers of the adjacent property, Red Raider Plaza. Shortly after the completion of the plaza, it was purchased by Greenwich-based Urstadlt Biddle Properties Inc. for $9 million.

Red Raider Plaza

In 2011, Walgreen Company, a national retail pharmacy chain, purchased Red Raider Plaza for $7.15 million with plans to remodel one of the buildings and demolish the other to make room for a Walgreens Pharmacy. Following the announcement that Walgreens would acquire Rite Aid in 2015, Walgreens froze the construction of all new stores, including the Derby store. Walgreens maintains building ownership, and continued the redevelopment with some changes. The plaza received a significant renovation, parking lot improvements, and realignment of one of the entrances. New retailers that joined the plaza were Crown Fried Chicken, Leslie's Pool Supply, Planet Fitness, Wayback Burgers, Jersey Mike's Subs, Sprint, and Verizon. In 2018, plans were approved for Starbucks to build a drive-through cafe in the Planet Fitness parking lot, the city's second location; in 2019, plans were approved for a Moe's Southwest Grill.

Education

There are five public schools and one private school in Derby. As of the 2017–2018 school year there were 1,386 students enrolled in public schools and 159 enrolled in private school. The total number of students enrolled in public and private schools is 1,545.

School name Grades Address Type Neighborhood
St. Mary-St. Michael School Pre-K – 8 14 Seymour Avenue Private Catholic West Derby (Downtown)
Little Raiders University Pre-K 75 Chatfield Street Public West Derby (Downtown)
Bradley Elementary School K-5 155 David Humphrey Road Public East Derby
Irving School K-5 9 Garden Place Public West Derby (Downtown)
Derby Middle School 6–8 73 Chatfield Street Public West Derby (Downtown)
Derby High School 9–12 75 Chatfield Street Public West Derby (Downtown)

On January 12, 2018, a former Extended Care Health facility was sold to Apex International Education Partners, to be converted into dormitories for international high school students attending private schools in the area. The dormitory was opened on September 19, 2018, and at full capacity it can accommodate 110 students and 10–12 employees.

Transportation

Rail

The city has a Metro-North railroad station called Derby – Shelton. The station is located at 1 Main Street and serves the residents of Derby and Shelton. Derby-Shelton is the last regular stop on the Waterbury Branch before it joins the Northeast Corridor. The station is 69.5 miles from Grand Central Terminal, with travel time being an average of one hour, 54 minutes, depending on transfer time at Bridgeport. Travel time to New Haven is an average of one hour, two minutes, depending on transfer time.

Bus

All bus routes meet at the Derby–Shelton station. The Valley Transit facility is next to the train station on adjoining property.

  • Connecticut Transit – Route F6
  • Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority – Routes 15 & 23
  • Valley Transit – Regional public bus service by reservation only, serving the residents of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton, and Seymour

Airports

Local

  • Waterbury–Oxford Airport (13 mi)
  • Sikorsky Memorial Airport (14 mi)

Regional

  • Tweed New Haven Airport (15 mi)
  • Westchester County Airport (41 mi)

International

Notable people

  • Samuel George Andrews, (1796–1863), born in Derby, United States congressman from New York
  • Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett (1833–1908), first black American diplomat (appointed in 1869 to Haiti)
  • Charles T. Beardsley, Jr. (1861–1937), born in Derby, noted Bridgeport architect
  • David Raymond Curtiss (1878–1953), mathematician, President of the Mathematical Association of America, born in Derby
  • Brian Dennehy, film actor, lived in Derby during his early life and was a Boy Scout in Troop 3, based in Derby
  • Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man comics hero
  • William Frederick Durand (1859–1958), the first civilian chair of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
  • Danielle Ferland (1971–), Broadway and film actor, born in Derby
  • Philip M. Halpern (1956–), nominee to become United States federal judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, born in Derby
  • Josiah Holbrook (1788–1854), founder of the lyceum movement, born in Derby
  • Isaac Hull (1773–1843), commodore in the U.S. Navy; commanded USS Constitution among other ships, and nephew of William Hull
  • William Hull (1753–1825), general in the American Revolutionary War, governor of Michigan Territory, and uncle of Isaac Hull
  • David Humphreys, American Revolutionary War soldier, public official and entrepreneur
  • Orson Hyde (1805–1878), leader in the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) movement
  • Frances Osborne Kellogg (1876–1956), industrialist whose estate forms Osborne Homestead Museum and Osbornedale State Park
  • Themis Klarides (1965–), Connecticut General Assembly Minority Leader, elected in 1998
  • Ben Kopec (1981–), musician, songwriter, and composer, born in Derby
  • Andy Natowich (1918–2014), NFL running back for the Washington Redskins
  • Patrick B. O'Sullivan (1887–1978), CT state senator, US congressman, Superior Court judge, and Chief Justice of the CT Supreme Court
  • Nick Pietrosante, NFL fullback for the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Notre Dame Fighting Irish; born in Derby
  • Michele Ragussis (1969–), chef, TV appearances on Food Network Star, Chopped, and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle
  • Alan Schlesinger, former Derby mayor and unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2006
  • Bob Skoronski, NFL player for the Green Bay Packers; member of 1961, 1962, and 1965 NFL champion teams, as well as Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II championship teams
  • Sheldon Thompson, former mayor of Buffalo, New York
  • Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler, Confederate general, Spanish-American War leader and Alabama politician
  • Elizabeth Ann Whitney (1800–1882), early Latter-day Saint (Mormon) leader; born in town
  • Stephen Whitney (1776–1860), merchant, one of New York's first multi-millionaires
  • Kathleen M. Williams (1956–) United States Federal Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, born in Derby
  • Frank P. Witek (1921–1944), recipient of the Medal of Honor; born in Derby
  • Edward Wooster (1622–1689), "the first permanent settler in Derby"

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