Waterbury (nicknamed the "Brass City") is a city on the Naugatuck River, southwest of Hartford and northeast of New York City. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 110,366 and is the ninth largest city in New England, the fifth-largest city in Connecticut and the second largest city in New Haven County. At 90 minutes from Manhattan, Waterbury is part of the New York Metropolitan Area.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century Waterbury had large industrial interests and was the leading center in the United States for the manufacture of brassware (including castings and finishings), as reflected in the nickname the "Brass City" and the city's motto Quid Aere Perennius? ("What Is More Lasting Than Brass?"), which echoes the Latin of Horace's Ode 3.30. It was noted for the manufacture of watches and clocks.
The city is located along Interstate 84 and Route 8 and has a Metro-North railroad station with connections to Grand Central Terminal. It is also home to Post University and the regional campuses of the University of Connecticut, University of Bridgeport, Western Connecticut State University as well as Naugatuck Valley Community College.
The original settlement of Waterbury was in 1674 as a Town Plot section. In 1675 King Philip's War caused it to be vacated but the land, was returned to in 1677, this time west of the first settlement. Both sites are now marked. The Algonquin name for the area was "Matetacoke", meaning "place without trees." Thus the settlement was named "Mattatock" in 1673. The name changed to Waterbury on May 15, 1686, when the settlement was admitted as the 28th town in the Connecticut Colony. It then included all or parts of the later towns of Watertown, Plymouth, Wolcott, Prospect, Naugatuck, Thomaston, and Middlebury. The name Waterbury was chosen because of all the streams flowing into the Naugatuck River. Growth was slow during Waterbury's first hundred years. The lack of arable land discouraged new settlers, and the residents suffered through the great flood of 1691 and the great sickness of 1712. After a century, Waterbury's population numbered just 5,000.
Waterbury hit its stride as an industrial power in the early 19th century when it began to manufacture brass. The new brass industry in this small city attracted many workers from all over the world, leading to an influx of immigrants from every nationality. As the "Brass Capital of the World", the city gained a reputation for the quality and durability of its goods. Waterbury was incorporated as a city in 1853. Waterbury supplied brass and copper used in Boulder Dam in Nevada. Waterbury brass was used for many other things in the United States such as minting disks for nickels, but the brass also went into South American coins.
Another famous Waterbury product of the mid-19th century was Robert H. Ingersoll's one-dollar pocket watch, five million of which were sold. After this, the clock industry became as important as Waterbury's famed brass industry. Evidence of these two important industries can still be seen in Waterbury, as numerous clocktowers and old brass factories have become landmarks of the city.
At its peak during World War II, 10,000 people worked at the Scovill Manufacturing Co, later sold to Century Brass. The city's metal manufacturing mills (Scovill Manufacturing, Anaconda American Brass, and Chase Brass & Copper were the largest) occupied more than 2 million square feet (180,000 m²) and more than 90 buildings.