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n 1857 article in The National Magazine described the Waterbury Green as a beautiful city square surrounded by stately churches and elegant private residences with extensive grounds and sparkling fountains, all presenting "an appearance quiet unique for a manufacturing town." Although Waterbury's glory as an affluent industrial hub has long since faded, anyone who looks beyond the city's frayed edges will discover many worthy remnants of the halcyon days of the Brass City, including the Union Station clock tower, designed in1908 by the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White. Around the corner from the station the green itself has remained a city focal point through good times and bad, as the scene of Depression-era demonstrations, Victory Bond drives, end-of-war celebrations, political rallies, and Viet Nam War protests. It remains a prominent anchor for a continually transforming city center that includes such welcome additions as the Mattatuck Museum.

  Laid out in the 1690s, Waterbury's green is an old meetinghouse common that has survived through the years as a symbol of continuity in a city substantially affected by the post-war decline in brass manufacturing, the subsequent flight of residents to the suburbs, and the construction of Interstate Route 84. Early accounts describe a boulder-strewn expanse of bog so wet it had to be traversed by a corduroy road. The green's central position, however, made it a natural location for a variety of country diversions. When the traveling menagerie came to Waterbury, it set up on the common. Children sailed toy boats in small ponds that appeared after heavy rains, and skated on the green in winter. After closing up shop clerks from the many stores bordering the green played baseball on summer evenings.

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The Waterbury Green, oil on canvas by Jared D. Thompson, circa 1851. Courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut.

Looking towards the west, this view shows the flagstaff and St. John's Episcopal Church.

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Waterbury Boy's Club Enjoying Blakeslee's Sleigh Ride, black-and-white photograph, 1903. Courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut. This was a one-time event for nearly 6,000 Waterbury children.

 
 
 

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