Fairfield is a town located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It borders the towns of Bridgeport, Trumbull, Easton, Weston and Westport along the Gold Coast of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 59,404. In July 2006, Money magazine ranked Fairfield the ninth "best place to live" in the United States, and the best place to live in the Northeast.
In 1635, Puritans and Congregationalists in the Massachusetts Bay Colony dissatisfied with the rate of Anglican reforms sought to establish an ecclesiastical society subject to their own rules and regulations. The Massachusetts General Court granted them permission to settle the towns of Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford in the area now known as Connecticut.
On January 14, 1639, a set of legal and administrative regulations called the Fundamental Orders was adopted, and established Connecticut as a self-ruled entity. By 1639 these settlers had started new towns in the surrounding areas. Roger Ludlowe, framer of the Fundamental Orders, purchased the land presently Fairfield, and established the name.
According to historian John M. Taylor: "Early in 1639 the General Court granted a commission to Ludlow to begin a plantation at Pequannocke. He was on that errand, with a few others from Windsor, afterwards joined by immigrants from Watertown and Concord. He bought a large tract of land from the Pequannocke sachems, - afterwards greatly enlarged by other purchases to the westward,- and recalling the attractive region beyond (Uncoa), which he had personally seen on the second Pequot expedition, he also “set down” there, having purchased the territory embraced in the present town of Fairfield, to which he gave its name."
Towns created from Fairfield
Fairfield was one of the two principal settlements of the Connecticut Colony in southwestern Connecticut (the other was Stratford). The town line with Stratford was set in May 1661 by John Banks, an early Fairfield settler, Richard Olmstead, and Lt. Joseph Judson, who were appointed as a committee by the Colony of Connecticut. The town line with Norwalk was not set until May 1685.
Over time, it gave rise to several new towns that broke off and incorporated separately. The following is a list of towns created from parts of Fairfield.
When the American Revolutionary War began in the 1770s, Fairfielders were caught in the crisis as much as, if not more than, the rest of their neighbors in Connecticut. In a predominantly Tory section of the colony, the people of Fairfield were early supporters of the cause for independence. Throughout the war, a constant battle was being fought across Long Island Sound as men from British-controlled Long Island raided the coast in whaleboats and privateers. Gold Selleck Silliman, whose home still stands on Jennings Road, was put in charge of the coastal defenses.
In the spring of 1779, he was kidnapped from his home by Tory forces in preparation for a British raid on Fairfield County. His wife, Mary Silliman, watched from their home as, on the morning of July 7, 1779, approximately 2,000 enemy troops landed on Fairfield Beach near Pine Creek Point and proceeded to invade the town. When they left the following evening, the entire town lay in ruins, burned to the ground as punishment for Fairfield's support of the rebel cause. Ten years later, President George Washington noted after traveling through Fairfield that "the destructive evidences of British cruelty are yet visible both in Norwalk and Fairfield; as there are the chimneys of many burnt houses standing in them yet."
Fairfield recovered slowly from the burning, but soon after the end of the war its houses and public buildings had all been rebuilt.
World War I brought Fairfield out of its agrarian past by triggering an unprecedented economic boom in Bridgeport, the center of a large munitions industry. The prosperity created a housing shortage in the city, and many of the workers looked to Fairfield to build their homes. The trolley and later the automobile made the countryside accessible to these newly rich members of the middle class, who brought with them new habits, new attitudes, and new modes of dress. The prosperity lasted through the twenties.
The grounding of a barge with two crewmen on Penfield Reef in Fairfield during a gale led to the first civilian helicopter hoist rescue in history, on November 29, 1945. The helicopter flew from the nearby Sikorsky Aircraft plant in Bridgeport.
Fairfield became the home of the corporate headquarters of General Electric (GE), one of the world's largest companies.
The opening of the Connecticut Turnpike in the 1950s brought another wave of development to Fairfield, and by the 1960s the town's residential, suburban character was firmly established.