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Milford, Connecticut
Aerial view of Milford city center and harbor
Aerial view of Milford city center and harbor
Flag of Milford, Connecticut
Flag
Official seal of Milford, Connecticut
Seal
Etymology: Ford by a mill
Nickname(s): 
Sleepy Hollow
Motto(s): 
A Small City with a Big Heart!
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°13′27″N 73°03′35″W / 41.22417°N 73.05972°W / 41.22417; -73.05972Coordinates: 41°13′27″N 73°03′35″W / 41.22417°N 73.05972°W / 41.22417; -73.05972
Country  United States
U.S. state  Connecticut
County New Haven
Metropolitan area New Haven
Settled 1639
Incorporated (city) 1959
Named for Milford, Surrey
Government
 • Type Mayor–Board of Aldermen
Area
 • Total 25.13 sq mi (65.09 km2)
 • Land 21.91 sq mi (56.73 km2)
 • Water 3.23 sq mi (8.35 km2)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 52,759
 • Estimate 
(2019)
53,195
 • Density 2,428.44/sq mi (937.64/km2)
  United States Census 2010, United States Census Bureau
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP Codes
06460, 06461
Area code(s) 203/475
FIPS code 09-47515
GNIS feature ID 0208882
Major highways I-95.svg Connecticut Highway 15.svg
Commuter Rail MTA NYC logo.svg

Milford is a coastal city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, located between New Haven and Bridgeport. The population was estimated to be 53,195 in a July 2019 estimate. The city includes the village of Devon and the borough of Woodmont. Milford is part of the New York-Newark Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area.

History

Early history

The land which today comprises Milford, Orange and West Haven was purchased on February 1, 1639 from Ansantawae, chief of the local Paugussets (an Algonquian tribe) by English settlers affiliated with the contemporary New Haven Colony. Originally, the area was known as "Wepawaug", after the small river which runs through the town, and which has given its name to several streets in both Milford and Orange.

Eells-Stow House -- Milford, CT
The Eells-Stow House, circa 1700, is believed to be the oldest extant house in Milford

A grist mill was first built over the Wepawaug River in 1640.

During the Revolutionary War the Milford section of the Boston Post Road, a vital route connecting Boston, New York and other major coastal cities, was blockaded by Continental forces, and Fort Trumbull was constructed to protect the town. The site of the blockade is commemorated by the Liberty Rock monument.

BarberJohnWarnerOysterHutsMilfordPoint
Oyster Huts on Milford Point, a sketch by John Warner Barber for his Historical Collections of Connecticut (1836). Barber wrote that he found 15 or 20 of these seaweed-covered huts along the shore when he visited the town in 1836. Oystermen used the huts in the winter.

By 1822, the town had grown large enough that residents in the northern and eastern sections of Milford chartered their own independent course as the town of Orange. During the next century and a half, the remaining section of Milford was known for shipbuilding, farming and oystering, although a small subset of industrial facilities also developed in town. During this time, Milford also became known as a beach resort for residents of New Haven and Bridgeport.

Interestingly, the boundaries of the final town charter granted by the State of Connecticut in 1899 to Laurel Beach are contained entirely within Milford. Residents of Laurel Beach must therefore pay taxes to both Laurel Beach as well as Milford, and all mail to Laurel Beach residents is mailed to Milford.

Milford Connecticut old bridge
View of Milford's greens on a 19th-century naïve landscape painting

Also in 1899, the "Memorial Bridge" (a "stone bridge and tower commemorating the town's history and founders") was built at the site of the last mill over the Wepawaug after it was closed in 1894. "The stone bridge is simple in design, its broad copings surmounted with rough hewn blocks of granite, bearing the names of the first settlers. There are ten blocks on the south and twenty on the north coping. At each end of the former is a stone four feet wide by five and a half high." It is located where Broad Street crosses the Wepawaug River.

In 1903, the southeastern portion of the town was incorporated as the Borough of Woodmont. In 1959, the town of Milford including the Borough of Woodmont was incorporated as the City of Milford.

Towns created from Milford

MilfordCtAreaOutlineMap
Map showing Milford and neighboring towns: Stratford, Shelton, Orange, and West Haven

Milford was one of the early settlements in south central Connecticut and, over time, gave rise to several new towns that broke off and incorporated separately. The following is a list of towns created from parts of Milford.

The "oatmeal lots" of Liberty Park

Starting in 1902, Quaker Oats oatmeal boxes came with a coupon redeemable for the legal deed to a tiny lot in Milford. The lots, sometimes as small as 10 feet (3 m) by 10 feet, were carved out of a 15-acre (6.1 ha) tract in a never-built subdivision called "Liberty Park". A small number of children (or their parents), often residents living near Milford, collected the deeds and started paying the extremely small property taxes on the "oatmeal lots". The developer of the prospective subdivision hoped the landowners would hire him to build homes on the lots, although several lots would need to be combined before building could start. Since the subdivision into small lots predated Milford's planning and zoning regulations, the deeds were entirely legal, although they created a large amount of paperwork for town tax collectors, who frequently couldn't find the property owners and received almost no tax revenue from the lots.

In the mid-1970s, when the town wanted to develop the area, town officials put an end to the oatmeal lots in a "general foreclosure" that avoided the enormous expense of individual foreclosures by condemning nearly all of the property in one legal filing. One of the streets in the Liberty Park subdivision plans, Shelland Street, was later built in the late 1990s as an access road to the Milford Power Company. The site is currently home to the BIC Corporation's lighter factory at 565 Bic Drive. (In a separate land giveaway in 1955 tied to the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon television show, Quaker Oats offered in its Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereal boxes genuine deeds to land in the Klondike.)

Post-World War II development

In the post-World War II period, Milford—like many Connecticut towns—underwent significant suburbanization. Interstate 95 was routed through town, and the Milford section was completed in 1958.

The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the construction of the Connecticut Post Mall, one of the state's largest shopping malls, and the extensive commercial development of the town's stretch of the Boston Post Road. One notable small business located on the Boston Post Road during the 1970s was SCELBI Computer Consulting, credited by many as being the world's first personal-computer manufacturer. Starting in 1975, the city began hosting the Milford Oyster Festival, which has since become firmly established as an annual Milford tradition that is held "rain or shine".

The city became host to several headquarters of multinational corporations, including the Schick Shaving company, and Doctor's Associates, Inc., owners of the Subway chain of fast-food restaurants. The US operations of BIC were headquartered in Milford, but in March 2008 moved most of its operations to Shelton. Milford Hospital has also developed into an important health care resource for the area. It has also become home of smaller national corporations such as K-Mart and Orchid Medical.

Gallery

Principal communities of Milford

PostcardSeasideAveMilfordCT1907
Seaside Avenue, 1911 postcard
  • Downtown Milford
  • Devon
    • Rivercliff
  • Morningside†
  • Point Beach†
  • Bayview†
  • Walnut Beach†
  • Wildermere Beach†
  • Laurel Beach†

Other minor communities and geographic features are Anchor Beach, Bayview Heights, Burwells Beach, Cedar Beach, Downtown Historic District, Ettadore Park, Far View Beach, Forest Heights, Fort Trumbull, Great River, Gulf Beach, Laurel Beach, Lexington Green, Merwin's Beach, Merwin's Point, Milford Lawns, Milford Point, Myrtle Beach, Naugatuck Gardens, Point Lookout, Silver Sands Beach, South of the Green, Walnut Beach, Wheelers Farms.

†denotes that the community is chartered by Special Act of the Connecticut General Assembly and have been granted some of the powers normally held only by a municipality including taxing authority. ‡The Borough of Woodmont is chartered by Special Act of the Connecticut General Assembly as a municipality and has been granted all statutory powers of an municipality while simultaneously remaining part of the city of Milford.

Culture

See also: Milford Oyster Festival
Oyster Festival1
2006 Milford Oyster Festival Banner

Every year on the third Saturday in August, Milford celebrates its annual Oyster Festival, which serves as a combination of a typical town fair with a culinary celebration of the town's location on historically shellfish-rich Long Island Sound. This festival takes place in and around the Milford Green, near the center of town, as well as in various locations throughout the downtown area, and features a wide variety of events including canoe and kayak races, musical performances, and classic car shows.

The Milford Oyster Festival has drawn large musical acts over the years including Joan Jett, The Marshall Tucker Band, John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, Soul Asylum, and many more.

There are also other features such as carnival rides, food stands, crafts, face painting, and even opening your own oyster for a pearl.

The Milford Cultural Center, operated by the Milford Council for the Arts, offers various events throughout the year. The Firehouse Art Gallery was recently opened in Devon. The beach resort quality of the town lives on, with several rocky beaches, Silver Sands State Park, the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point, Charles Island, two golf courses, and numerous other recreational facilities available for residents and tourists.

Starting in 2011, the Walnut Beach Concert Series has taken place under the pavilion at Walnut Beach. It features a different band playing every Sunday afternoon during the summer.

Geography and environment

According to the United States Census Bureau, Milford, including the borough of Woodmont, has a total area of 26.1 square miles (67.7 km2), of which 22.2 square miles (57.4 km2) is land and 3.9 square miles (10.2 km2), or 15.11%, is water.

Milford's Devon neighborhood is located at the mouth of the Housatonic River near Stratford, and features the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center overlooking the estuary.

Islands and coastline

PostcardLaurelBeachMilfordCT1910
Laurel Beach, 1910

Milford has over 14 miles (23 km) of shoreline facing Long Island Sound, the most of any town in Connecticut. A large portion of Milford's shoreline forms the Silver Sands State Park. A newly built 3/4 mile boardwalk was opened in 2011 that connects Silver Sands to Walnut Beach in Devon. Charles Island is also a part of the park and is a protected bird nesting ground. There is a sand bar (called a tombolo since it is perpendicular, not parallel to the coast) accessible during low tide that people can walk on from Silver Sands Beach to Charles Island.

The island is a part of the Hamonasset-Ledyard Moraine and was formed as glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age. The Wisconsin glaciation formed drumlins in Milford: Clark, Burwell, Eels, Bryan and Merwin hills.

Milford owns three islands in the Housatonic River: Fowler Island, just to the south of the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Bridge, Duck Island, and Nells Island, both near the mouth of the river. In addition to Silver Sands State Park, Milford has five public beaches with lifeguard services for its residents - Gulf Beach, Anchor Beach, Hawley Avenue Beach, Walnut Beach, and Middle Beach - as well as seven private beaches.

Transportation

Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1 pass through the southern part of Milford. The Wilbur Cross Parkway cuts across the northern part of the city and is connected to I-95 and Route 1 via the Milford Parkway, also known as the Daniel S. Wasson connector, named for the first police officer to die in the line of duty in the city of Milford. He was killed on April 12, 1987, when he was shot by a motorist he had pulled over. The Metro-North New Haven Line has a station stop in downtown Milford (Milford station). The Milford Transit District provides in-town service to major attractions. Connections with the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority and Connecticut Transit New Haven are also available.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,098
1800 2,417 15.2%
1810 674 −72.1%
1820 2,785 313.2%
1830 2,256 −19.0%
1840 2,455 8.8%
1850 2,465 0.4%
1860 2,828 14.7%
1870 3,405 20.4%
1880 3,347 −1.7%
1890 3,811 13.9%
1900 3,783 −0.7%
1910 4,366 15.4%
1920 10,193 133.5%
1930 12,660 24.2%
1940 16,439 29.8%
1950 26,870 63.5%
1960 41,662 55.1%
1970 50,858 22.1%
1980 50,898 0.1%
1990 49,938 −1.9%
2000 52,212 4.6%
2010 52,759 1.0%
2019 (est.) 53,195 0.8%
See also: List of Connecticut locations by per capita income

According to the 2010 US census Demographic Profile Data, there were 51,271 people living in 21,017 housing units of which 13,534 were counted as family households. The population density was 2,341/sq mi (904/km2). The average density of housing units was 1,017.7 per square mile. The racial makeup of Milford was 93.55% White, 1.91% African American, 0.13% Native American, 2.36% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.88% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 3.34% of the population.

Of the aforementioned households 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.04.

(In Milford the population was 22.4% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.0 males.)

As of the 2000 census, the median income for a household was $61,183. The per capita income was $28,773. About 2.4% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.

The Census Bureau's 2010–2012 American Community Survey showed that (in 2012 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $77,925 and the median family income was $93,697. Year-round male workers had a median income of $67,631 versus $59,992 for females. The per capita income for the city was $38,560.

On the National Register of Historic Places

Economy

Top employers

Top employers in Milford according to the town's 2020 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

# Employer Employees
1 City of Milford, Board of Education 1,076
2 Subway 870
3 Milford Hospital 774
4 Schick 696
5 City of Milford 542
6 Neopost Hasler 390
7 Macy's 325
8 Stop & Shop 288
9 Costco 240
10 Alinabal 226

Education

Milford Public Schools currently operates eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, and one alternative education high school. There are also a number of private schools in the city.

Public

  • The Academy
  • Calf Pen Meadow Elementary School
  • East Shore Middle School
  • Harborside Middle School
  • John F. Kennedy Elementary School
  • Jonathan Law High School
  • Joseph A. Foran High School
  • Live Oaks Elementary School
  • Mathewson Elementary School
  • Meadowside Elementary School
  • Orange Avenue Elementary School
  • Orchard Hills Elementary School
  • Pumpkin Delight Elementary School
  • West Shore Middle School

Milford High School operated for 141 years at the time of its closing in June, 1983. It was the first public high school to operate in Milford, beginning in 1842. The former Milford High School building is now the Parson's Government building.

Private schools

  • Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, Lauralton Hall High School
  • Charles F. Hayden School (K-8)
  • Connecticut Center for Child Development (K-12)
  • The Foundation School (9-12)
  • Milford Christian Academy (K-12)
  • St. Mary School (PK-8) - Archdiocese of Hartford

St. Gabriel's School opened in 1965; at the time clergy were the primary teachers. By the 2010s there were fewer clergy teachers, and lay teachers were more expensive; in addition fewer parishioners gave money to the church. By 2016 the school's budget was $111,709 in deficit. In 2008-2009 it had a peak enrollment of 219. In 2014 there was concern expressed about the school's survival expressed in the community, and in 2016 enrollment was down to 139, with 22 being in special education. The school directors chose to close the school in June 2016; the archdiocese did not order the closure.

Notable people

  • Mark Arcobello, ice hockey player
  • Dylan Bruno, actor
  • Jeff Davis, creator of the TV show Teen Wolf
  • Justin Gallagher, bike jump builder
  • Anne Griffin, actress
  • Doug Henry, National Champion motocross and snowmobile racer
  • Simon Lake (1866–1945), inventor and naval engineer
  • Jonathan Law (1674–1750), colonial era judge; Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, 1741–1750
  • Joseph Plumb Martin (1760–1850), Revolutionary War soldier, raised by his grandparents in Milford
  • Abigail Merwin (1759–1786), colonial-era wife and mother who alerted the local militia of a raid by British forces arriving from the warship HMS Swan
  • Ellen Muth, actress
  • Erin Pac, won bronze medal for two-woman-bobsleigh event at the 2010 Winter Olympics
  • Dan Patrick, sportscaster and radio personality; host of The Dan Patrick Show; co-host of Football Night in America; senior writer for Sports Illustrated
  • Jason Peter, collegiate All-American defensive tackle (1997) and defensive end for the Carolina Panthers; attended Milford Academy
  • Catherine Pollard (c. 1918–2006), first female Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America
  • Charles H. Pond (1781–1861), judge of the New Haven County Court; sheriff of New Haven; Lieutenant Governor and 37th Governor of Connecticut
  • Peter Pond (1739/40?–1807), first explorer of the Athabasca region of North America in the 1780s; founding member of the North West Company
  • Peter L. Pond (1933–2000), human rights activist and philanthropist; adopted 16 Cambodian orphans
  • Jonathan Quick, NHL goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings; Stanley Cup champion
  • John Ratzenberger, actor
  • Christy Carlson Romano, actress
  • Dan Rusanowsky, NHL radio broadcaster for the San Jose Sharks
  • Al Scaduto (1928–2007), cartoonist (They'll Do It Every Time)
  • Frank J. Sprague (1857–1934), inventor; helped develop the electric motor, electric railways, and electric elevators
  • Robert Treat (c. 1624–1710), colonial era deputy and military officer; Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, 1683–1698

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