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West Haven, Connecticut
West Haven City Hall
West Haven City Hall
Official seal
(Latin): nil desperandum...translation:(American English):do not despair
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
Location in New Haven County, Connecticut
West Haven, Connecticut is located in the United States
West Haven, Connecticut
West Haven, Connecticut
Location in the United States
West Haven, Connecticut is located in Connecticut
West Haven, Connecticut
West Haven, Connecticut
Location in Connecticut
Country  United States
U.S. state  Connecticut
County New Haven
Metropolitan area New Haven
Incorporated (town) 1921
Incorporated (city) 1961
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Total 10.92 sq mi (28.27 km2)
 • Land 10.75 sq mi (27.84 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.43 km2)
33 ft (10 m)
 • Total 55,584
 • Density 5,171/sq mi (1,996.6/km2)
Demonym(s) Westie
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 203
FIPS code 09-82800
GNIS feature ID 0211953
Major highways I-95.svg US 1.svg
Commuter Rail MTA NYC logo.svg

West Haven is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, and a coastal city of Long Island Sound. At the 2020 census, the population of the city was 55,584.


West Haven town historical sign
West Haven historical marker

Settled in 1648, West Haven (then known as West Farms) was a part of the original New Haven Colony. In 1719, it became the separate parish of West Haven, but was still officially a part of New Haven until 1822.

During the American Revolution, West Haven was the frequent launch and arrival point for raiding parties on both sides of the war. On July 5, 1779, the British invaded New Haven Harbor and came ashore in West Haven and East Haven. Thomas Painter, a teenaged militiaman watching for the approaching British ships while standing atop Savin Rock, is depicted on the city seal. The main commercial street, Campbell Avenue, is named for British Adjutant William Campbell, at the time an ensign in the Third Guards, who rescued the Reverend Noah Williston, the local Congregational minister and outspoken revolutionary, from being bayoneted by British and Hessian troopers, after he broke his leg trying to escape his captors. Campbell then ordered the soldiers to help the minister back to the parsonage and had the regimental surgeon set his leg. Campbell is also credited with keeping the troops in reasonably good order during their march through the village and reportedly had two soldiers arrested after a local woman accused them of stealing her jewelry. Campbell was killed hours later atop Allingtown Hill on his way to New Haven by a local farmer-turned defender. Campbell is buried in the Allingtown section of town off Prudden Street. Patriot victims of the invasion are buried in the Christ Church and First Society Cemetery. A historical headstone marks Campbell's approximate gravesite and is maintained by the West Haven Historical Society.

West Haven, CT, train station MTA photo
West Haven (Metro-North station) opened in 2013

While West Haven again attempted to incorporate as its own town in 1784, that attempt failed, primarily due to the protests of neighboring Milford, which opposed North Milford becoming part of the new town. West Haven and North Milford tried again in 1786 and 1787 with the same result. The two finally joined to become Orange (incorporated as a town in 1822). In 1921, West Haven split from Orange to become a separate town. It was incorporated as a city in 1961 and is known as "Connecticut's Youngest City", but it is ironically one of the state's oldest settlements.

The Savin Rock section of West Haven was the site of the Savin Rock Amusement Park, which began in the late 19th century as a regionally renowned seaside resort. It evolved into a general amusement park in the 20th century and eventually closed in the 1960s. The park ran along the west side of the New Haven Harbor beachfront and is today a walk and bike path. Several restaurants remain as last reminders of the area including Jimmies, Turk's of Savin Rock, both for their seafood and split hot dogs and Mike's Apizza & Restaurant.

West Haven has a mayor-council form of government. Edward M. O’Brien, the city's eleventh mayor, was elected in 2013. There are three independent fire districts served by the First Fire Taxation (Center), West Shore and Allingtown Fire Districts. Over the years there have been unsuccessful efforts made to consolidate the fire districts, each of which levies its own tax rate.

In 1986, West Haven observed the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. During the year-long celebrations, the mayor and council passed numerous resolutions to encourage community involvement, including naming the official ship of West Haven—the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Edson (DD-946)—and the city's official flower, the daylily. Public schools included curriculum on the Constitution from K-12, and school children were released from class to participate in a Constitution Day parade up Campbell Avenue.

On the National Register of Historic Places

  • American Mills Web Shop — 114-152 Orange Ave. (added April 10, 1983)
  • Old West Haven High School — 278 Main St. (added November 24, 1985)
  • Union School — 174 Center St. (added December 13, 1987)
  • Ward-Heitman House — 277 Elm St. (added February 8, 2003)
  • West Haven Green Historic District


Kite aerial photo overlooking the West Haven shoreline along Ocean Ave.
Kite aerial photo overlooking the West Haven shoreline at the Bradley Point and Savin Rock area
Kite aerial photo overlooking the West Haven shoreline at Bradley Point
Kite aerial photo over the intersection of Jones Hill Road and Ocean Ave.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.0 square miles (28.5 km²), of which 10.8 square miles (28.1 km²) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²), or 1.54%, is water. West Haven has 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of publicly accessible beaches, which is one-quarter of the publicly accessible beaches in Connecticut. The hilly Allingtown district of the city is home to the University of New Haven.

West Haven is located in the south-central portion of Connecticut's 3rd congressional district. The city is bound on the southwest by the Oyster River (the boundary between West Haven and Milford since colonial times), northwest by Orange, north by New Haven and northeast by the West River, which divides West Haven and New Haven. To the east is New Haven Harbor and to the south is Long Island Sound.

Principal communities

The three significant neighborhoods in West Haven correspond to the three fire districts. As communities, not all sections of the city fit neatly into these divisions. For example, the southeast corner, while part of the Center aka First Fire Taxation District, is not contiguous to the central business district.

  • West Haven center
  • Allingtown
  • West Shore


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 25,808
1940 30,021 16.3%
1950 32,010 6.6%
1960 43,002 34.3%
1970 52,851 22.9%
1980 53,184 0.6%
1990 54,021 1.6%
2000 52,360 −3.1%
2010 55,564 6.1%
2020 55,584 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
See also: List of Connecticut locations by per capita income

As of the census of 2010, there were 55,564 people, 19,886 households. The population density was 5,170.2 people per square mile (1,865.0/km2). There were 22,336 housing units at an average density of 2,061.3 per square mile (795.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 63.3% white, 20.6% African American, 0.3% Native American, 4.2% Asian American, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 3.57% from other races and 4.8% from two or more races. 23.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 21,090 households, out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 19.7% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city from 2015-2019 was $62,985 in 2019 dollars. Males had a median income of $38,024 versus $30,610 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,121. About 6.6% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.8% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.


West Haven from Hood Terrace May 2013 1
West Haven station

Interstate 95, Connecticut State Route 34 (also known as Derby Avenue), and U.S. Route 1 (the Boston Post Road) run through West Haven, between Orange and New Haven. Route 162, which both begins and ends at Route 1, starts in Orange, passes through West Haven, and ends in Milford. A north-south state road, Route 122, begins in New Haven, comprising Forest Road, a stretch of Campbell Avenue and First Avenue up to the junction with I-95.

Bus service is provided by Connecticut Transit New Haven. West Haven Center is served by the various 265 and 271 routes (main service along Campbell Avenue). The 265B service continues to Saw Mill Road and Bull Hill Lane; the 265R service run along Jones Hill Road and terminate at the Baybrook Shopping Center near Oyster River; the 265S service continues to Savin Rock via Second Avenue. The Route 271M/S routes run along the West Haven shore towards Milford. The Route 261 route serves the areas along Orange Avenue. The 268 route serves the Veterans Affairs Hospital (C) and Bull Hill Lane (B).

A rail line, used by Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak, runs through West Haven. In 2013, the Connecticut Department of Transportation opened a new Metro-North station in West Haven, across from the former Armstrong factory. West Haven station provides commuter rail service on the Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line. The station provides full service on Metro-North into New York City, and has 660 parking spaces on-site. Amtrack does not stop in West Haven; the closest Amtrack stop is New Haven's Union Station.

Tweed New Haven Regional Airport, in New Haven, is the closest facility offering air service to West Haven.


West Haven Board of Education is the local school district.

West Haven is home to the University of New Haven, a U.S. Veterans Affairs hospital, and Yale Field, a baseball park for the Yale University teams and formerly the home field for minor league baseball teams. The Yale Bowl, the home field of the Yale Bulldogs, is in New Haven, near the West Haven border.

Notable people

  • Marian Bergeron, Miss America 1933, youngest holder and only woman from New England to win that pageant's crown title.
  • Ulish Booker, NFL football player
  • Dorinda Keenan Borer, member of the Connecticut House of Representatives
  • Art Ceccarelli (1930-2012), Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Melanie Chartoff, actress
  • Eleanor Estes (1906–1988), author of children's literature
  • Douglas Ford (born Fortunato; born 1922), professional golfer
  • William L. Hadden, Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut from 1943–45 and Attorney General from 1945–51
  • Kevin Heffernan, actor, writer, producer, director, and comedian
  • Rob Jackson, former NFL football player
  • Jamey Jasta, metalcore musician
  • George R. Johnson (1929-1973), Pennsylvania State Representative.
  • Samuel Johnson (1696–1772), clergyman and the first president of the Anglican King's College (later Columbia University)
  • Rufus Porter (1792–1884), painter, inventor, founder of Scientific American
  • Ruth Rosekrans Hoffman (1926-2007) artist and children's book illustrator
  • Tommy Nelson, actor
  • Jon Schnepp, film writer-director
  • Pfc. William A. Soderman (1912–1980), Medal of Honor from World War II.
  • Tony Sparano (1961-2018), NFL coach
  • Jonathan D. Spence, author and professor of history at Yale University
  • Ken Strong, NFL football player, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967
  • Donald Thomas, professional football player
  • Smoky Joe Wood (1889–1985), Major League Baseball pitcher

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