Ansonia is a city in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States, on the Naugatuck River, immediately north of Derby, and about northwest of New Haven. The population was 19,249 at the 2010 census. The ZIP code for Ansonia is 06401. The city is served by the Metro-North Railroad. Ansonia Station is a stop on the railroad passenger commuter service's Waterbury line, connecting to New York's Grand Central Terminal. Ansonia also is served by the Connecticut Transit bus carrier. Connecticut Route 8 serves Ansonia.
Ansonia, also referred to as "The Copper City", is recognized for its history of heavy machine manufacturing industry in the lower Naugatuck Valley. Production includes copper, brass, rubber and plastics processing, molding and tubing, iron castings, sheet metal, electric, automatic screw machine, textiles, and foundry products. The well-known Ansonia Clock Company was founded here in 1851.
Ansonia is the birthplace of American Revolutionary War colonel and diplomat David Humphreys. The city's devotion to its high school football team, the Ansonia Chargers, is legendary. Originally known as "The Lavender", the Chargers' annual game against arch-rival Naugatuck, on Thanksgiving morning, is one of the more significant events of the year for the two cities.
The area along the Naugatuck River, comprising the present Elm Street section of Ansonia and Derby Avenue section of Derby, was first settled by English colonists in 1652; it was originally a part of the township of Derby. Early settlers developed subsistence farming, and used the river for sawmills and gristmills.
In 1844, Anson Green Phelps (1781–1853), a merchant and philanthropist, wanted to expand the old borough of Birmingham (the present downtown of the city of Derby) to the north along the west side of the Naugatuck River to enable industrial development. Unable to purchase the land from its owner, in 1844 Phelps acquired land along the east side of the river; today this is Ansonia's downtown section. A canal was dug for river power to drive the factories and businesses in the new industrial village, which Phelps named "Ansonia". He wanted to name the industrial village as "Phelpsville," but learned there was another village in the region by that name. As suggested by a friend, Phelps Latinized his first name to create the name "Ansonia".
As industry developed, soon Ansonia became the most populous area of Derby, boasting many factories. The state chartered Ansonia as a borough of Derby in 1864 and amended it in 1871, granting full municipal privileges. In 1888, a petition was circulated in the borough of Ansonia for the purpose of becoming a separate township from Derby. In 1889 the State General Assembly granted the separation, constituting the Borough, Hilltop, West Ansonia, and Elm Street areas as a separate town known as Ansonia. This was the 168th township in the state of Connecticut. In 1893, Ansonia was incorporated as a city, consolidating with the coterminous Town and the old borough.
20th century to present
Ansonia suffered grievous damage in the Flood of 1955 on August 19, when the Naugatuck River flooded due to heavy rain from Hurricane Diane. Submerging the land along the river, the flood destroyed many houses and businesses. The high river waters swept away Maple Street Bridge, one of two bridges linking the east and west sides of Ansonia. After the inundation, the authorities erected a flood wall along the east bank of the river to protect the city's factories and Main Street. On the west bank, federal public housing was built to replace blocks of destroyed homes and businesses on Broad Street, now known as Olson Drive.
In the decades following the flood and suburbanization, Ansonia's Main Street fell into decline as retail shoppers decamped to the Ansonia Mall at its far end. (This has been replaced by a Big Y supermarket.) Later other malls attracted shoppers to nearby Milford, Trumbull, and Waterbury. Since the late 20th century, Main Street has been enlivened by he opening of several antique stores, a wine bar, a coffee shop, a Polish delicatessen, and other retail businesses.
In the early morning hours of November 6, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign motorcade stopped on its way to Waterbury for the candidate to make an appearance and brief address in front of City Hall. He drew thousands to downtown, many with transistor radios tuned to live reports on WADS of Senator Kennedy's progress towards Ansonia. President Kennedy returned to Ansonia on October 17, 1962, while on his way to Waterbury.
President George H. W. Bush paid a visit to Ansonia by helicopter during the 1992 presidential election campaign. He was running far behind schedule due to severe weather damage to a large area of New Jersey. He arrived late and delivered a truncated speech, causing many residents to feel he had slighted their city.
Rubber plant fire
In May 2001, a wind-driven fire destroyed the Latex Foam Company building, a very large rubber plant along the Naugatuck River in downtown Ansonia. The fire gutted the building, which was the workplace of 250 people. Firefighters from multiple counties fought the fire tirelessly for five days. Lingering clouds of foul-smelling smoke spread over the city and nearby communities, and chemical runoff produced by the fire unbalanced the ecosystem of the nearby river. A Target store was constructed on the empty lot, opening in July 2007.  Following the fire, the Latex Foam Company purchased a vacant plant off Route 110 in nearby Shelton and resumed production.