- The Museum in the Streets -
— Danbury, Connecticut —
Many Danbury land records were destroyed during the British raid of 1777. Historic newspapers, old deeds and early maps help us piece together some of the earliest place names of our city.
Parts of Danbury were lost to Bethel when it broke away in 1855 including Pinchgut, Wolfpits, and Puppytown. Other colorful names have simply disappeared over time such as Mashing Tub Swamp and Stubble-lot Road.
The Borough of Danbury began to officially name its streets in 1846 and by 1878 Towne Street had become Main Street. Barren Plain Road changed to White Street, Horse Island Lane is now Liberty Street and Whittlesey Lane became New Street.
The two oldest street names in Danbury belong to Town Hill Avenue and Deer Hill Avenue. These names were given in the earliest years to the ridges running east and west of the original settlements along the southern end of Main Street.
Park Avenue was known as Squabble Hill for a time. The name came from a Revolutionary War tale of a man named Porter and his encounter with British troops. Upper Elm Street was once called Rabbit Hill due to the hordes of the cottontail creatures that lived there in the gravel pits. Beaver Street was labeled Gallows Hill.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the area of Elm, Spring and New Streets was called ?Little Lebanon' having been populated by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants. Slovaks lived in neighborhoods near Lake Avenue and Golden Hill. Portuguese families settled in the mainly Italian ?Barbary Coast' section of lower Liberty Street. Germantown was developed by hat manufacturer William Beckerle to house the German immigrants who worked in his factory.
As the borough grew, its limits were extended three times in 1823, 1846 and 1862. A map from the early 1890s illustrates outlying one and two room school houses and shows the following districts: Miry Brook, Starrs Plain, Long Ridge, Middle River, Beaver Brook, King Street, Pembroke and Great Plain.
Many of these place names remain in use today.