Our new exhibit, LOST STREETS OF STAMFORD, illustrates a number of streets that were eliminated as part of the Urban Redevelopment of Stamford.
Willow Street View
The first thought of redeveloping the downtown occurred shortly after the passage of Federal Urban Renewal legislation in 1949. The first concept model of a new downtown may have been that designed by 20 year old John Smith in 1952 while he was working as an assistant draftsman for the Planning Board. Discussion of the renewal of the downtown area began in earnest sometime around 1956-7 when Louis Greenbaum first initiated serious consideration of the idea. However, the City was already involved in the East Meadows Project on Jefferson St. and Federal monies were not available until that project was concluded. The Eisenhower administration also cut federal funds for renewal in the late 50s.
It was in 1959 that the City embarked on the search for a sponsor for the redevelopment of the southeast quadrant, an area bounded ultimately by River St, Broad St, Elm St and I-95.
By 1960 a sponsor would be
selected S. Pierre Bonan and F.D. Rich. No buildings were demolished
until June 30 1965, when 24 Willow St. was torn down. It was converted
into a playground by mid July.
Because of court disputes and various delays the real building phase did not start until 1968-9 with the beginning of St. John's Towers, a moderate income housing project sponsored by the Diocese of Bridgeport through St. John's Parish. The first structure built as part of the private construction of the Southeast Quadrant was Landmark Square on Broad Street. Most of the structures in the exhibit continued to stand until well into the 1970s. During the 1970s and early 80s most of the structures of the current downtown were built. An inner loop highway was constructed and the old grid pattern vanished, several streets disappearing entirely under the mall.
18-19 Holly Place / 11 Cottage Street
Doubtlessly, Stamford will continue to develop, but it is unlikely that the wholesale and at time traumatic clearing of the late 1960s/early 1970s will ever occur again.
This exhibit could not have been mounted without the work of the following people whom the Society thanks:
Robert N. Rich
The Urban Redevelopment Commission
Dr. Thomas A Zoubek
Maps and photos courtesy The City of Stamford, Connecticut, Urban Redevelopment Commission
Aditional images in the exhibit courtesy Robert N. Rich, F.D. Rich Co.
Photos also come from the Society's photographic collection and from scrap books donated to the Society by Pobie Johnston.
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