VIEWS OF UPTOWN WATERBURY
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Templeton's on lower Meadow Street at the corner of Benedict Street was a large dealer of hardware, agricultural supplies, sporting goods, and automotive supplies for over fifty years. This part of Meadow Street frequently flooded after a heavy rain storm, as shown in this 1918 photo. Many of the buildings on lower Meadow Street were destroyed in The Great Flood of 1955, and the area is now covered by Interstate Route 84.
The Dumouchel Paper Company has been serving Waterbury and surrounding communities with paper and janitorial products since 1881. Originally named Hotchkiss Paper and owned by E.M. Hotchkiss, deliveries were made by horse and wagon to companies in western Connecticut as far away as Torrington and upper Litchfield County. The flood of 1955 caused extensive damage to the building and forced many of the employees to wade into the basement of their Canal Street location salvaging what they could of their merchandise. Shortly thereafter, the present location on Benedict Street was found and the Company moved.
Views of Bank Street from Grand Street in the early 1900s.
A 1920s view of Hilton’s Clothing Store in the Prichard Building at the corner of Bank & Grand Streets. The white band painted on the telephone pole in front of the store indicated a city trolley/bus stop.
Davis & Nye Office Supplies was at this location from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Diorio's Restaurant at 231 Bank Street was one of the most popular eateries in Waterbury from the 1920s to the 1970s.
This slightly ramshackle structure on the corner of Grand and Bank Streets housed a roller-skating rink, as well as a number of other businesses. The Pettijohn sign atop the building advertised a well-known breakfast cereal. The sign on the corner is for the Sig Sautelle's Circus, playing in the city on July 26th, 1900. There are also signs for Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery. The tree partially visible at the right stood in the center of Grand Street in a 5 x 5 parklet for many years, and was christened "Blakeslee Square". The Buckingham Building was erected on the site in 1906.
A view of Grand Street from Bank Street in the 1920s. The Buckingham Building is on the left.
The Buckingham Building, which housed offices and a large concert hall, was constructed on the corner of Bank and Grand Streets in 1906. Commissioned by J. H. Whittemore and named in honor of his wife's family, the building was a gift to Waterbury Hospital. It was designed by William Kendall and Teunis Van der Brent, architects in the McKim, Mead & White firm. The ground floor of the Building housed shops, and the upper floors held offices around the exterior. The center of the building was a public music hall. Income generated from the rental of the building's shops, offices and hall helped support the operations of Waterbury Hospital. The Building was torn down in 1967 to make way for a parking garage and travel center.
Businesses in the Buckingham Building in the early 1900s included Ray The Hatter, the Buckingham Pharmacy, and the Hallet & Davis Piano Co. Also known as Buckingham Hall, it was the site of many boxing matches in the early 1900s and a roller skating rink in the 1950s.
The Waterbury Post Office on Grand Street in the early 1900s and the 1940s.
Limestone panels like these adorn the exterior of the US Post Office building on Grand Street
John W. Hill, the Waterbury postmaster from 1869 to 1886, created many stamp cancels in various designs including faces, geometrics, leaves, and his most famous, the "running chicken". He made them all by carving the images out of cork. Hill was imaginative and skilled at creating his cancels, and some examples sell for hundreds even thousands of dollars. He used each cork cancel a relatively small number of times, making for scarcity of all types.
The Boys' Club Band poses in front of the building in the early 1900s. The Waterbury Boys' Club was on Cottage Place behind the Post Office.
The buildings on Grand Street across from the First Baptist Church and Post Office were destroyed in The Great Fire of 1902, but the facade of the Waterbury American newspaper building (center) survived. Recent photo of this block
Period photos of Grand Street buildings during and after The Great Fire of 1902.
Businesses across the street from the Post Office in the 1920s included a Fulton Market and the Waterbury Trust Company.
A view of the same block about 20 years later. The Post Office is on the left.
The Brass City Grill on Grand St., modeled after the famous Brass Rail restaurant on Broadway in New York City, opened in 1931.
It has been the Turf Restaurant since the 1950s.
The WBRY radio studios were in the Waterbury Trust Company building by the early 1940s
Blakeslee Co. delivery trucks parked in front of M.A. Green Jewelers and The New England Music Co., a musical instruments dealer on Grand Street, circa 1920s. The historic M.A. Green two dial clock was moved from this original 1920 site to Bank Street in 1935.
Morris Plan banks were a private banking organization designed primarily to grant small loans to industrial workers, incorporating life insurance on the debtors. Morris Plan banks emerged at a time when formal consumer credit markets were virtually non-existent, and dominated consumer lending in the 1930s. By 1931, there were 142 Morris Plan banks operating in 109 cities with an annual volume of loans of about $220,000,000.
The Waterbury Morris Plan Bank was located on Grand Street.
The Waterbury Republican (morning) and Waterbury American (afternoon) newspapers were printed on Leavenworth Street. C. Louis Mortison, their political cartoonist known as Mort, garnered national attention in the 1930s with his stories of fictional farmer Lester Green.
Gas prices are a lot higher now, but this Mort editorial cartoon about the disparity in the gasoline tax between Connecticut and Massachusetts in 1927 is still pertinent 80 years later.
Waterbury funny business: The Eastern Color Printing Company, which was owned by the Republican-American, printed comic books and Sunday newspaper comics sections at their plant on Leavenworth Street. Famous Funnies: a carnival of comics, which they published in 1933, was the first issue of a bi-monthly publication that became the first regularly published comic book series sold on newsstands. Business was good, even during the Depression, and Eastern Color built a separate printing plant for comic books on Commercial Street in the west end in 1937.
The Connecticut Light & Power Co. (CL&P) sold a complete line of electrical appliances on the ground floor of this building on Leavenworth Street (and you could pay your electric bill there too).
The Mattatuck Bank & Trust Company's main office was at 49 Leavenworth St. It was founded August 14, 1971 and acquired by Connecticut National Bank December 29, 1983.
Few cities were as heavily influenced by the "City Beautiful" movement as Waterbury. In 1910 an entire area of the city on Grand Street was torn down and rebuilt to provide the proper setting for the city's railroad station, and over the next several years civic leaders created an institutional core that included a new city hall, central fire station, and social services building, as well as new headquarters for the brass manufacturing companies that dominated the city's economy.
The Waterbury City Hall of Corruption on Grand Street, circa 1950s.
Political corruption in Waterbury dates back over 60 years, to the administration of Mayor T. Frank Hayes, who was convicted along with several associates of raiding city coffers. In 1988, Mayor Edward "Mike" Bergin was arrested on a charge of taking a bribe over towing contracts. He was acquitted three years later. His successor, former Mayor Joseph Santopietro, and six others were convicted in 1992 of conspiring with bankers and developers to trade favors for bribes and kickbacks disguised as loans. Waterbury mayors have also been involved in sexual shenanigans while in office. Mayor Greene Kendrick was involved in a scandal with a Mrs. Clark in 1883. In 2003, Mayor Philip Giordano was convicted on charges he violated the civil rights of two young girls by sexually abusing them.
The Chase Building across the street from City Hall was the headquarters of the Chase Brass & Copper Company until 1963. It is now a City Hall annex known as the Chase Municipal Building. In 1939, the company-operated Chase Dispensary on Field Street opened one of the first birth control clinics in the country.
"Insufficient appropriations" in the budget have been the norm since the 1940s. The situation got so bad that Waterbury's finances were put under state control in 2001.
The main fire station on Field Street behind City Hall.
A directory of Waterbury fire alarm box locations in the late 1800s. The manual pull boxes, which were usually affixed to telegraph poles, sent a coded signal of the box number over a telegraph line to the Fire Department Central Office, then the dispatchers sent the alarm to the appropriate firehouse.
Fire alarm box locations in 1914
The Silas Bronson Library is next to City Hall. This building was demolished and a new library was built on the site in Library Park in 1966. The library's Waterbury Hall of Fame includes Waterbury natives or residents who have had a significant impact on the history of Waterbury, individuals recognized throughout the city, state, country or world.
The Ben Franklin statue seated in front of the Silas Bronson Library was designed by renowned sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett, a one-time Waterbury resident. The 1700 pound statue was made possible by a $15,000 donation from Elisha Leavenworth. After completion, it made a 22-city tour, with celebrations in each city, from Baltimore to Boston and then to Waterbury where it was dedicated June 3, 1921.
Library Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, son of the famed New York City Central Park designer. The parkland had been Waterbury's burying ground from 1686 to 1890 when it was conveyed to the City for park use. Attached along the lower park wall are 47 granite and sandstone grave markers with the names of early Waterbury families formerly buried in the cemetery.
The old County Courthouse on Kendrick Ave. History and more photos of the New Haven County Courthouse in Waterbury.
Just as it was in the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s, the State Armory on Field Street is still being used as Waterbury's "Civic Center" in the 21st century.
This program is from the 1924 Auto Show at the State Armory.
Dances were also held at the State Armory for many years.
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Grand Street was lined with elm trees before they were wiped out by Dutch Elm Disease in the 1930s.
The original Naugatuck Railroad was chartered in 1845, to be built between Bridgeport, Waterbury, and Winsted, adjacent to the Naugatuck River. Construction began in April, 1848, and was completed by May, 1849. The first regular train service began June 11, 1849. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad began leasing the Naugatuck line in 1887; and formally merged it in 1906. The flood of August 1955 caused hundreds of thousand dollars of heavy damage to the railroad. Thomaston Dam was constructed 1958 – 1960 as part of the area’s flood control project, and as a result the railroad was realigned to cross the face of the dam. Passenger service between Waterbury and Winsted was discontinued in 1958. Facing hard economic times as a result of the decline of its New England industrial base in the 1960s, the New Haven Railroad became a part of the Penn Central merger on January 1, 1969.
The Waterbury railroad station/depot and its landmark clock tower on Meadow Street and a view of Grand Street, with the Southern New England Telephone Company building in the center, from the station in the 1920s. The unique railroad station structure was constructed by The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and opened its doors in 1909 as the city of Waterbury was nearing its zenith as an industrial center and transportation hub. The slender 245 foot campanile (bell tower) was modeled after the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy. Complete with gargoyles, the tower houses a clock, the largest in New England. The tower bell was installed in 1916. The railroad station is now The Waterbury Republican-American newspaper building.
The new railroad station replaced the old station which was further south on Meadow Street.
Socialist Party of America presidential candidate Eugene Debs presents the Socialist point of view to the voters of Waterbury in 1908 at the old railroad station, in the course of his speech-making tour through the East on “The Red Special” which may be seen in the background.
The Bank Street Junction signal tower of The New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1955.
Weekend excursions and "baseball specials" to New York City were popular in the 1950s. The round trip excursion fare from Waterbury was $2.25. The special discounted excursion fares were intended to help grow the New Haven's travel business during the weekends, when passenger trains often ran under-capacity.
The beginning of the end: an official New Haven Railroad notice announcing the termination of passenger service between Waterbury and Hartford effective January 17, 1960. Route Map and 1947 Fare Schedule
Train Service to New York City continued through the 1970s
Views of Waterbury from the clock tower - 2005
A large bronze statue of Knights of Columbus founder Father Michael J McGivney was dedicated in 1957 in the park across from the railroad station to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Knights. Father McGivney was born, lived and worked in Waterbury prior to becoming a priest.
The Anaconda American Brass Building on the corner of Grand and Meadow Streets, with its graceful curved facade and brass-bedecked entranceway, was once headquarters to one of the city's "big three" brass producers. A large addition was put on the building in 1998, and it is now the Waterbury Courthouse.
The Mattatuck Drum Band marches by the Anaconda American Brass Building on Grand Street during a parade in 1919. The buildings in the background were on Freight Street.
The WATR Radio studios (left), which were near the Anaconda American Brass Building on Meadow Street, are now at the transmitter site on Baldwin Avenue. Visit our 1950s Waterbury Radio Station Memories page.
Established in 1900, the Howard W. Conner Co. on Meadow St. "delivered the goods" into and out of Waterbury for fifty years.
Commercial gas operations began in Waterbury in 1853 when gas pipes were laid through the streets and the manufacture of gas was begun in a small factory on Freight Street. In 1854, the business formally became the Waterbury Gas Light Company. The company provided the city with gas for cooking, lighting, heating, and power for over 70 years until they became a part of the Connecticut Light & Power Company in the 1930s.
UPTOWN IN A DOWN TOWN: 1987 VIEW
Like many downtown buildings, these buildings at 207 to 231 Bank Street near Grand Street stood abandoned and decaying in the 1980s. Diorio's Restaurant was in the building on the right for over 50 years. This block of buildings has been completely restored and is now known as Buckingham Square.
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