Westport is a coastal town of colonial origin located on Long Island Sound in Fairfield County, Connecticut, northeast of New York City in the United States. The town had a population of 26,391 according to the 2010 U.S. Census and in 2008 ranked the tenth wealthiest town in the U.S. with populations between 20,000 and 65,000, and second in the state.
The Westport area had been inhabited by Native Americans for at least 7,500 years before the first permanent European settlers. Five farmers and their families, subsequently known as the Bankside Farmers, arrived at Machamux in 1693 having followed cattle to the isolated area known to the Pequot as the "beautiful land". As the settlement expanded its name changed: briefly known as "Bankside" in 1693, officially named Green's Farm in 1732 in honor of Bankside Farmer John Green and in 1835 incorporated as the Town of Westport.
Agriculture was Westport’s first major industry. By the 19th century, Westport had become a shipping center in part to transport onions to market. In the 20th century a combination of industrialization, and popularity among New Yorkers attracted to fashionable Westport—which had attracted many artists and writers—resulted in farmers selling off their land. Westport changed from a community of farmers to a suburban development. Westport's population grew rapidly from the 1950s to 1970s. This expansion was driven by the town's proximity to New York City, its school system's reputation, “chic New York-type fashion shopping” and the "natural beauty of the town". By the 21st century Westport had developed into a center for finance and insurance (23%), and professional, scientific and technical services (21%).
Westport is home to the Westport Country Playhouse.
Archaeological finds led to what are currently the earliest identified inhabitants of the Westport area that date back 7,500 years. Records from the first white settlers report the Pequot Indians living in the area which they called Machamux translated by the colonialists as beautiful land. Settlement by colonialists dates back to the five Bankside Farmers; whose families grew and prospered into a community that continued expanding. The community had its own ecclesiastical society, supported by independent civil and religious elements, enabling it to be independent from the Town of Fairfield.
The Town of Westport was officially incorporated on May 28, 1835 with lands from Fairfield, Weston and Norwalk. Daniel Nash led 130 people of Westport in the petitioning of the Town of Fairfield for Westport’s incorporation. The driving force behind the petition was to assist their seaport’s economic viability that was being undermined by neighboring towns’ seaports. For several decades after that, Westport was a prosperous agricultural community distinguishing itself as the leading onion-growing center in the U.S. Blight caused the collapse of Westport's onion industry leading to the mills and factories replacing agricultural as the town's economic engine.
Starting around 1910 the town experienced a cultural expansion. During this period artists, musicians, and authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald moved to Westport to be free from the commuting demands experienced by business people. The roots of Westport’s reputation as an arts center can be traced back to this period during which it was known as a "creative heaven."
In the 1950s through to the 1970s baby boomers relocating from New York to the suburbs discovered Westport's culture of artists, musicians and authors. The population grew rapidly assisted by the ease of commuting to New York City and back again to rolling hills and the "natural beauty of the town." By this time Westport had “chic New York-type fashion shopping.” And a school system with a good reputation all factors contributing to the growth.