The American Essence: Fairfield County
Nestled in the Southwestern corner of Connecticut, Fairfield County remains one shining example of a truly All-American county. With a population of just over 900,000, it continuously attracts residents who aim to enjoy a more tranquil alternative to the nearby New York City metropolitan area. Its most populous cities include Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk and Danbury, having been home to many notable residents such as famed showman P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The county is also home to The Gold Coast, consisting of the entire southern portion of Fairfield County. An affluent area of Connecticut, residents enjoy luxurious waterfront properties and a thriving downtown area. In fact, The Gold Coast ranked sixth place in the U.S. in per-capita personal income by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2005. In the fifteen years that have passed since, in 2020, the region continues to appeal to wealthy families or single up-and-comers.
History of Fairfield County
Fairfield County was first home to an abundance of Native American tribes, including the Schaghticoke tribe and groups from the Wappinger sachem ships. In 1614, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block was the initial European to explore the coastal area. Following this, the first European settlers arrived in 1639, which consisted of Puritans and Congregationalists from England. Roger Ludlow was the colonist who helped to purchase the area and give Fairfield its official name that same year.
Fairfield County saw several battles during the American Revolution, facing particular difficulties during the revolution's earlier stages. This included the Battle of Ridgefield in 1777, a face-off between British and American soldiers over important military supplies needed by varying troops. Two years later, in 1779, the region saw even more carnage, with the raid and burn of the city of Norwalk by the British being one of the most damaging events. Fortunately, the area of Fairfield County pulled through the war and prospered again after it had ended.
Historically, the area is perhaps best known for the founding of Bridgeport Machines, Inc in 1938. The milling machine manufacturer made the surrounding area a prosperous one for residents throughout the 20th century. Since the 2010s, Fairfield County remains one of Connecticut's fastest-growing counties, appealing to thousands of new residents every year -- not to mention lots of tourists!!
Stretching over 837 square miles, Fairfield County has a diverse geography, consisting of vast shorelines, illustrious mountains and striking natural parks. Hikers and other adventurers love the area for its range of Appalachian mountains, including the Taconic Mountains and the Berkshire Mountains, often hiking the trails that intertwine around the region.
Those who are less fond of trudging on uneven dirt paths and potentially coming across pesky wildlife on the trails may want to spend their time in other parts of the region. One of the most popular include the city of Fairfield's shoreline on the Long Island Sound. Many tourists enjoy basking in the sun or taking a boat out on the water in the summer.
Alternatively, visitors can enjoy the eight state parks or two state forests throughout the county. Huntington State Park is the most-visited, dotted with sculptures of bears and wolves along its woodlands. History lovers may opt to visit Putnam Memorial State Park, a Revolutionary War Memorial that contains remains of the encampment as well as an informative museum. During particular times of the year, visitors can enjoy war re-enactments to feel fully immersed in the beautiful park.
Who Lives in The 'Best Place to Live'?
In 2019, the population of Fairfield County reached 940,000, with a median age of 40.8. A consensus from 2010 found that families make up 230,000 residents of the county, with 36% of households having children under the age of 18. While families are attracted to the area for its highly ranked schools, single individuals who work in nearby New York City often seek out residences in the area to enjoy a quieter lifestyle, away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
A Hedge Fund Paradise
Fairfield County attracts some of the world's largest hedge funds, including Bridgewater Associates, Aladdin Capital Management and Point72 Asset Management. After suffering a blow during The Great Recession of 2007-2009, other economic sectors began to see prominence in the region, including entertainment, travel and education. However, investment management remains steady in the county, with those who work in the financial field continuing to seek work in the area.
Fairfield County Attractions
If you are visiting the area with a group of individuals who have very different interests, don't fret -- you'll find something for everyone here. Art and culture lovers can spend their days and evenings exploring the area's many museums and cultural centers, such as the Bruce Museum, The Stamford Museum & Nature Center and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, places rife with art pieces, historical information and agricultural sights.
Shoppers can shop their hearts out at the Stamford Downtown shopping center with a vast array of stores, restaurants and fun festivals and concerts. Moreover, downtown Fairfield is home to a continuously-growing shopping center and may be more low-key compared to Stamford, though just as exciting!
Lastly, many of the best family activities include those with animals. And you can surely find those in Fairfield County!! Highlights are Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and SeaQuest Trumbull. Here, kids can see a vast array of land and sea animals alike and learn more about the diverse wildlife in the region.