Darien is a small coastal town in southwest Connecticut with a population of nearly 22,000 residents. It covers 14.9 square miles with approximately 30 acres of scenic shoreline of the Long Island Sound.
Darien has easy access to Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway. There are two Metro North stations that offer service to New York’s Grand Central Terminal with commute times of about 50 minutes during peak travel times.
Known for its excellent schools, Darien has one of the highest expenditures per student in the Fairfield County with more than 90% of high school graduates going on to colleges and universities.
Residents of Darien enjoy two public beaches, 205 acres of park and recreational facilities, an indoor ice skating rink and an equestrian center.
Originally settled in 1641 as part of Stamford, the area we know as Darien became Middlesex Parish in 1737. In 1820, residents petitioned the state legislature to establish Darien as a separate town.
|Total Population||21,901||Total Housing Units||7,347 (100%)|
|Population in Households||21,857||Owner Occupied HU||5,732 (78.0%)|
|Population in Familes||20,275||Renter Occupied HU||1,210 (16.5%)|
|Population in Group Qrtrs||44||Vacant Housing Units||405 ( 5.5%)|
|Population Density2||1,731||Median Home Value||$1,359,701|
|Diversity Index3||23||Average Home Value||$1,386,205|
|Median Household Income||$200,001||Total Households||6,942|
|Average Household Income||$281,904||Average Household Size||3.15|
|Per Capita Income||$89,409||Family Households||5,701|
|Average Family Size||4|
In addition to some small neighborhoods, the larger divisions of the town are:
The name Noroton originates from the Native American “Norporiton” assigned to the river along Darien’s border with Stamford. This section of Darien is defined by two peninsulas that claw their way into Long Island Sound, their curved appendages protecting enough coves and inlets to make the area a haven for beachgoers and sailors. The shorter of the peninsulas, Noroton Neck, is divided into shore communities like Noroton Bay and Pratt Island. Long Neck, which extends farther into Long Island Sound includes Long Neck Point which provides westerly views of Manhattan. Though the general geographic reference to this land feature is Long Neck Point, therein are two different neighborhoods, each with their own main road and distinct features.
Connecticut’s Gold Coast, Long Neck Point is consistently ranked one of the best places to live in America. Historically, it has also been called Collender’s Point and “La Belle” Point. In 1902, Anson Phelps Stokes of the Stokes family built a Gilded Age brick Georgian manor on the end, dubbed “Brick House” which was later occupied by Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie’s manor was later run as the Convent of the Sacred Heart before it was split in half and sold as two private residences. The property on the tip was divided in two and neither home can rise above 20 feet.
On its east side, Long Neck Point Road stretches south beginning near the Ring’s End Landing bridge and terminating at the southerly most tip of land. This area is somewhat inland and away from the eastern shoreline and at a relatively high elevation above the water. The west coast of Long Neck runs along Goodwives River and includes Pear Tree Point. A public beach, Pear Tree Point Park and a private boat club, the Darien Boat Club are on Pear Tree Point in Noroton Harbor. Pear Tree Point Road, begins at the Ring’s End Landing bridge, runs south along the western side of the Point adjacent to “The Gut” and to outer Noroton Harbor. This charming route hugs the shoreline at an elevation close enough to the tides such that storm conditions can bring the water level over the road. Approximately half-way south along the peninsula, Pear Tree Point Road turns abruptly to the east, ninety degrees, heading uphill and connecting to Long Neck Point Road, distinguishing Long Neck from Long Neck Point.
Ring’s End Landing, the original settlement and shipping point for early residents includes a historic stone bridge providing easier access to Long Neck, essential after the creation of the New Haven Railroad. The bridge crosses a dam dividing Gorhams Pond from the Gut. The center of town faced Gorham’s Pond. The first mill, called Scofield’s, was built in 1708. Another mill was built for the Clock family and eventually taken over by Gorham’s in 1740. During the American Revolution the Tories of the area left quickly for Long Island. They returned by sloop one night and for vengeance they captured forty-eight men during the local town meeting. The captives were taken down to New York and imprisoned for five months. The railroad came through Darien in 1848, and gradually the center of the town moved away from the water and closer to the main highway, Route One, and the local railroad station. But trading by water continued until World War 1. The mill remained on Gorham’s Pond for many years after it ceased to grind flour. In 1921, the town decided to test its new fire engine, which the manufacturer claimed was guaranteed to extinguish any blaze if reached quickly. The townsmen set the mill afire, confident that the damage would be minor with their new, powerful fire engine standing by. Something went wrong, because the landmark of Darien burned to the ground. That was the end of the Ring’s End Landing that had been a small, but vital hub for over two hundred years. Long Neck became a summer destination for the wealthy when rail travel made it accessible during the mid-19th century.
The large island to the east is the remaining estate of the late William Ziegler. The Ziegler Estate is the most expensive waterfront plot on the eastern seaboard. With an assessed property value of over $22,000,000 and thousands of feet of direct undeveloped waterfront, it boasts the fourth largest property tax in town. For the first time in over a century, the 63-acre portion of the estate known as Great Island was listed for sale and is expected to set a national record at $175,000,000.
Darien’s eastern coastline is almost entirely Tokeneke, a private community with a beach, club, and police patrol. Tokeneke is a private neighborhood and tax district established in January 1957. All homeowners within the district pay a separate tax to maintain the roads and police constables in the neighborhood. Coveted Contentment Island sits in the southeastern most part of town, encompassed by Tokeneke.
Noroton Heights “blew up around the Noroton Heights train station and housed the European immigrants who serviced the old estates,” according to an article about the community in The New York Times. The densely populated streets of this part of town are full of “modest Capes and colonials” along with other house styles.
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