Before it focused its attention on Brooklyn — its real estate, its music scene, the type of glasses its hipsters wear — the New York Times actually reported metropolitan-area news in places like Westport.
Kathie Bennewitz — who was researching the construction of I-95, and the destruction it wrought on Saugatuck — unearthed a couple of interesting Times stories from nearly 60 years ago.
On June 20, 1956, the newspaper announced: “Advancing ‘Pike Drives Wild Animals to Town.”
“Human dwellers in Fairfield County are not the only inhabitants to be dislocated by the construction of the Connecticut Turnpike,” readers read. “Denizens of the woods on and near the Thruway route are also being displaced.”
A Westport Humane Society spokesman said he’d received “frequent” calls from residents wanting to know what to do about “the wild life that is invading their backyards and sometimes even their swimming pools.”
Raccoons, possums and skunks were “regular visitors.” No word, though, on deer.
Less than a year later — on February 15, 1957 — the Times reported that Westport had saved a 35-foot, 70-year-old holly tree from the chainsaw.
Town officials rescued it from highway demolition. Uprooted and towed 2 miles behind a police escort car, it was transplanted “a short distance from the police station in the center of town.”
“It was too beautiful to destroy,” said First Selectman W. Clarke Crossman.
Wildlife being forced from its natural habitat by construction. Saving trees from destruction.
As the saying goes: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”