Until the advent of the railroad, Darien was a small, rural community of about one thousand farmers, shoemakers, fishermen, and merchants engaged in coastal trading. In 1864 during the Civil War, the first home for disabled war veterans and soldiers’ orphans in the United States was built at Noroton Heights, named after its founder, Benjamin Fitch of Darien. At the end of the Civil War, security and economic prosperity in the North brought a building boom. What had once been farmland and open space was divided and residences for prosperous businessmen and affluent local merchants blossomed on major streets including Brookside, Prospect, Mansfield, Noroton and Middlesex. A number of well-to-do New Yorkers discovered Darien’s picturesque shoreline and built summer homes in Tokeneke, Long Neck Point and Noroton.
Darien was still a small town of a few thousand people in 1914, even though there were already a few hardy commuters here who taxied by surrey from home to station. After World War II, new streets and developed areas sprang up. The town center grew steadily along with the population. By the mid-1950’s the Connecticut Turnpike came through the town. General prosperity and growth continued until the population leveled off around 20,000 by 1970. Today Darien is a suburban community with an active town center, excellent schools, and involved residents. It offers unspoiled land and clear waters. Those who have come to live here have been careful stewards of its architectural and natural heritage while enjoying the resources of a modern community.
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