New Canaan, Connecticut facts for kids

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New Canaan, Connecticut
Town
Official seal of New Canaan, Connecticut
Seal
Location in Fairfield County and the state of Connecticut.
Location in Fairfield County and the state of Connecticut.
Country United States
State Connecticut
CNECTA New Haven-Bridgeport-Stamford
Region South Western Region
Settled 1731
Area
 • Total 22.5 sq mi (58.3 km2)
 • Land 22.1 sq mi (57.3 km2)
 • Water 0.4 sq mi (0.9 km2)
Elevation 344 ft (105 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 19,738
 • Density 877.2/sq mi (338.56/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06840
Area code(s) 203 Exchanges: 966, 972, 801
FIPS code 09-50580
GNIS feature ID 0213468
Website www.newcanaan.info

New Canaan /n ˈknən/ is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States, 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Greenwich, 36 miles (58 km) west of New Haven and 48 miles (77 km) northeast of New York City. The population was 19,738 according to the 2010 census. In 2008 New Canaan had the highest median family income in the country.

New Canaan is the only municipality on the Connecticut Panhandle that does not border the coast and such proximity to New York City proved worthy of its own connection to the New Haven Railroad, being the only town to do so. New Canaan station and Talmadge Hill station are both on the New Canaan Branch of the New Haven Line, and transfer is possible in Stamford south to Manhattan (direct trains to Grand Central Terminal are available at specified times). Many New Canaan residents commute to New York regularly, with travel time to Grand Central Terminal approximately 70 minutes.

Considered part of Connecticut's Gold Coast, New Canaan is known for its Connecticut public school system, its wide range of architecture from the Harvard Five modern homes to historic New England colonials and farmhouses, as well as many stately mansions and tended estates, plus a signature town center with premiere shopping, classic boutiques, an elaborate display of lights during the Christmas season.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.5 square miles (58 km2), of which 22.1 square miles (57 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2), or 1.56%, is water. The town is served by the Merritt Parkway and by a spur line of the Metro-North Railroad. The downtown area consists of many fine restaurants, an old Bow Tie Cinemas movie theater, library, the Victorian train station, antique shops, a book store, a saddlery boutique and various fine clothing and interior decorating shops. In addition to the many local boutiques and businesses, many national chains stores can be found in the downtown area, including Ralph Lauren and Ralph Lauren Children, Ann Taylor, J. McLaughlin, Papyrus, Vineyard Vines, Le Pain Quotidien, and Starbucks, among others. There are also several churches in town (Catholic and various Protestant denominations) as well as the historic Roger Sherman Inn, established in 1740. Most major banks and many wealth managements firms have a presence in New Canaan, including J.P Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, UBS, Citibank and Bank of America, among others. Several hedge funds are also based in New Canaan.

The town is bounded on the south by Darien, on west by Stamford, on the east by Wilton, on the southeast by Norwalk and on the north by Lewisboro and Pound Ridge in Westchester County, New York.

The town includes the following sections: New Canaan town center, Talmadge Hill, Ponus Ridge, West, Oenoke Ridge, Smith Ridge, and part of Silvermine (which extends into Norwalk and Wilton).

History

JWBarberEastViewNewCanaan
East view of Church Hill, the central part of New Canaan (1836) by John Warner Barber
NCTrainstation
New Canaan train station

In 1731, Connecticut's colonial legislature established Canaan Parish as a religious entity in northwestern Norwalk and northeastern Stamford. The right to form a Congregational church was granted to the few families scattered through the area. As inhabitants of Norwalk or Stamford, Canaan Parish settlers still had to vote, pay taxes, serve on juries, and file deeds in their home towns. Because Canaan Parish was not planned as a town when it was first settled in 1731, when New Canaan was incorporated in 1801, it found itself without a central common, a main street or a town hall.

Until the Revolutionary War, New Canaan was primarily an agricultural community. After the war, New Canaan's major industry was shoe making. As New Canaan's shoe business gathered momentum early in the nineteenth century, instead of a central village, regional settlements of clustered houses, mill, and school developed into distinct district centers. Some of the districts were centered on Ponus Ridge, West Road, Oenoke Ridge, Smith Ridge, Talmadge Hill and Silvermine, a pattern which the village gradually outgrew.

With the 1868 advent of the railroad to New Canaan, many of New York City's wealthy residents discovered the quiet, pastoral beauty of the area and built magnificent summer homes. Eventually, many of the summer visitors settled year-round, commuting to their jobs in New York City and creating the genteel, sophisticated country ambiance that continues to characterise the community today.

Lewis Lapham, a founder of Texaco and great-grandfather of long-time Harper's Magazine editor Lewis H. Lapham, spent summers with his family at their estate that is now 300-acre (1.2 km2) Waveny Park next to Talmadge Hill and the Merritt Parkway.

In the 1890s, editor Will Kirk of the Messenger wrote an editorial in response to area editors who chided him and New Canaan as the “next station to hell.” An alleged remark by a parched Civil War veteran marching in the Decoration Day Parade on an unusually hot day prompted the exchange. The remark was found untrue and Kirk, after enduring the comments of others, wrote about a “dream” of approaching the Pearly Gates in the company of his fellow editors. All others were turned away but he, Will Kirk, was welcomed, because he, in fact, was from the “Next Station to Heaven.” Since then, the name has been controversial, with residents affectionately using the latter, and local critics of New Canaan still using the original nickname.

The "Harvard Five" and modern homes

New Canaan was an important center of the modern design movement from the late 1940s through roughly the 1960s, when about 80 modern homes were built in town. About 20 have been torn down since then.

"During the late 1940s and 50s, a group of students and teachers from the Harvard Graduate School of Design migrated to New Canaan ... and rocked the world of architectural design", according to an article in PureContemporary.com, an online architecture design magazine. "Philip Johnson, Marcel Breuer, Landis Gores, John M. Johansen and Eliot Noyes – known as the Harvard Five – began creating homes in a style that emerged as the complete antithesis of the traditional build. Using new materials and open floor plans, best captured by Johnson's Glass House, these treasures are being squandered as buyers are knocking down these architectural icons and replacing them with cookie-cutter new builds."

"Other architects, well known (Frank Lloyd Wright, for example) and not so well known, also contributed significant modern houses that elicited strong reactions from nearly everyone who saw them and are still astonishing today ... New Canaan came to be the locus of the modern movement's experimentation in materials, construction methods, space, and form", according to an online description of The Harvard Five in New Canaan: Mid-Century Modern Houses, by William D. Earls.

Some other New Canaan architects designing modern homes were Victor Christ-Janer, John Black Lee, Allan Gelbin, and Hugh Smallen.

The film The Ice Storm (1997) shows many of New Canaan's modern houses, both inside and out. The film (and Rick Moody's novel of the same name, upon which it's based) takes place in New Canaan; a mostly glass house situated on Laurel Road is prominently featured.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 1,599
1820 1,689 5.6%
1830 1,830 8.3%
1850 2,600
1860 2,771 6.6%
1870 2,497 −9.9%
1880 2,673 7.0%
1890 2,701 1.0%
1900 2,968 9.9%
1910 3,667 23.6%
1920 3,895 6.2%
1930 5,456 40.1%
1940 6,221 14.0%
1950 8,001 28.6%
1960 13,466 68.3%
1970 17,451 29.6%
1980 17,931 2.8%
1990 17,864 −0.4%
2000 19,395 8.6%
2010 19,738 1.8%
Est. 2014 20,314 2.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
See also: List of Connecticut locations by per capita income

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,395 people, 6,822 households, and 5,280 families residing in the town. The population density was 876.5 people per square mile (338.4/km²). There were 7,141 housing units at an average density of 322.7 per square mile (124.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.27% White, 1.74% Hispanic or Latino, 1.04% African American, 0.04% Native American, 2.29% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races, and 0.98% from two or more races.

There were 6,822 households out of which 41.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.2% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.6% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the town, the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 3.3% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.7 males.

Per the 2000 Census, the median income for a household in the town was $141,788, and the median income for a family was $175,331. Males had a median income of $100,000 versus $53,924 for females. The per capita income for the town was $82,049. About 1.4% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 2.2% of those age 65 or over.

Points of interest

  • New Canaan Nature Center
  • Waveny Park on South Avenue "was developed in 1912 by Lewis Lapham on what had been Prospect Farm, an early summer estate. In 1967 the Town acquired the 'castle' and 300 acres (1.2 km2) of surrounding parkland."
  • Silvermine Arts Center
Moreno Clock New Canaan
Moreno Clock located on Elm Street where it meets with South Avenue in New Canaan, Connecticut.

On the National Register of Historic Places

  • Hampton Inn – 179 Oenoke Ridge; also known as The Maples Inn, it was built by the Elwood brothers in Queen Anne, Colonial Revival style. (added November 27, 2004)
  • Hanford Davenport House – 353 Oenoke Ridge (added September 3, 1989)
  • John Rogers Studio – 33 Oenoke Ridge; built in 1878 by John Rogers, who was called "the people's sculptor" in the later 19th century. The studio houses a collection of the artist's famous groups of statuary, many sculpted on site. The studio was closed during needed restoration and scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2006. (added November 15, 1966) "He used this studio from 1876 to the end of his life. The John Rogers studio houses one of the finest collections of Rogers Groups in the nation."
  • Landis Gores House – 192 Cross Ridge Rd. "With its flat-roofed single-story form, full-height glass walls, and emphasis on horizontal planes, the house he designed for himself in New Canaan is an outstanding example" of modernist architecture. (added April 21, 2002)
  • Maxwell E. Perkins House – 63 Park St. (added June 6, 2004)
  • Philip Johnson Glass House – 798–856 Ponus Ridge Rd. (added March 18, 1997)
  • Richard and Geraldine Hodgson House – 881 Ponus Ridge Rd. (added February 28, 2005)

Seasonal events

New Canaan Nature Center Fall Fair: The fair offers activities for all ages from hay mazes to Old Faithful Antique Fire Truck rides to apple sling shots.

All Hallows Eve (Halloween) Parade: No matter your costume, children of all ages and their dogs can receive a goody bag and march in the Parade led by Old Faithful Antique Fire Truck which is sponsored by the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.

Holiday Stroll: Hosted by The Chamber of Commerce, downtown New Canaan celebrates with Christmas carolers, the lighting of the trees along Elm Street, the arrival of Santa Claus, and extended store hours.

Christmas Carolling on Church Hill (aka God's Acre): Since 1919 New Canaan residents have been gathering on Church Hill every Christmas Eve to sing Christmas carols with the New Canaan Town Band. The New Canaan town band was founded in 1831 and is the second oldest town band in the United States.

Easter Egg Hunt: At the Annual Town Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Young Women's League of New Canaan, children are able to collect candy-filled Easter eggs, get their faces painted, take pictures with the Easter bunny, and many other festive activities.

Saint Mark's May Fair: carnival rides and May Fair's famous strawberry shortcake.

Family Fourth Fireworks: Town residents gather at Waveny Town Park for picnicking, live music, bounce houses, and fireworks.

Pictures

New Canaan in the media

New Canaan in Film

Movies at least partially filmed in, or involving, New Canaan:

  • The Best Laid Plans (2009)
  • Made for Each Other (2009)
  • Revolutionary Road (2008)
  • The Stepford Wives (2004)
  • The Object of My Affection (1998)
  • The Ice Storm (1997)
  • Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
  • Bee Movie (2006)

Songs about New Cannan

  • New Canaan, by Bill Wurtz
New Canaan I
Waveny Mansion in New Canaan, residence of Christopher Lloyd; his mother donated it to the town

Books about New Canaan

  • Public Schools Should Learn to Ski, by Stephen E. Rubin
  • The Ice Storm, by Rick Moody
  • Portrait of New Canaan, by Mary Louise King


  • "It's [Darien's] detestable, but that's the way it is. It's even worse in New Canaan. There, nobody can sell or rent to a Jew." Gentleman's Agreement (1947 film).
  • The 1955 novel Auntie Mame takes place partly in New Canaan, disguised under the name of "Mountebank" but identified (in the stage version) as "Just passed Darien. You'll love it. It's the most restricted community in our part of Connecticut."
  • New Canaan author Edward Eager set two of his children's books in the town: Magic or Not (1959) and The Well-Wishers (1960).
  • In The Cricket In Times Square (1960), main character Chester Cricket lives near New Canaan.
  • The Neighbors are Scaring My Wolf by comic writer Jack Douglas was a 1968 book based on his experiences living in town.
  • The Official Preppy Handbook (1980) makes reference to New Canaan as one of the "preppiest" towns in the country.
  • In the 1997 movie Fools Rush In, Matthew Perry's character grew up in New Canaan.
  • The exteriors of Waveny Mansion are used as Palmer Cortlandt's home in the ABC soap opera All My Children.
  • The opening chapter of the British young adult novel The Immaculate Deception by Gareth Russell is set in New Canaan, as the home town of Blake, one of the characters.
  • Karen suggests that Jack's father may be one of the "eight Black brothers of New Canaan, CT" in an episode of Will and Grace.
  • In the ABC drama Commander in Chief, Geena Davis' family home was in New Canaan.
  • In one of the books in the series Gossip Girl, a minor character says he needs to stop in New Canaan.
  • In the ABC television series Sports Night, Managing Editor Isaac Jaffe (played by Robert Guillaume) lives in New Canaan.
  • In the USA television series Royal Pains Hank tells Tucker to take his father to a fictional rehab center called simon ranch in New Canaan CT.
  • In the Syfy television series Warehouse 13, in "There's Always a Downside", former Warehouse agent Hugo moves to New Canaan with his nephew and calls the Warehouse agents to retrieve a bag of marbles that caused students in a fictitious school to be consumed with a single, overriding goal.
  • In the Steven King series The Dark Tower, protagonist Roland Deschain hails from a fictional city called Gilead, who in turn is nestled in a fictional country/ state called New Canaan.
  • A Guide to God's Acre, a walking tour of the Historic District; available from the New Canaan Historical Society.
  • My Impressions of the Hour, a journal written by an early New Canaan teacher, Margaret Mary Corrigan; available from the society.
  • New Canaan: Texture of a Community, available from the society.
  • Portrait of New Canaan, available from the society.
  • A Student's Memoir, edited by Robert W.P. Cutler. A history of the Little Red Schoolhouse, based on recollections of some of the school's graduates.
PostcardNewCanaanCTMethodistEpiscopalChurch
Methodist Episcopal Church, postcard mailed 1917
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