Chamber Of Commerce Maps Walking Tours

Westport has long had 2 commercial centers: downtown and Saugatuck. For decades they’ve been engaged in a quiet — but definite — battle for business.

Shoppers and restaurant-goers, meanwhile, have relied on a couple of basic methods to figure out where to spend their money: ads, and word of mouth.

But now both sections of town have collaborated on a project that may help both.

A walking map of downtown and Saugatuck becomes available this week. Colorful and well-designed, it’s a way to encourage foot traffic, serendipitous discovery — and of course business.

The map is the brainchild of Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell. He noticed a walking map for SoNo, and wondered why we had nothing similar.

The downtown area walking map.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association provided information and funds for the area bordered by the west bank of the river, Playhouse Square, the Post Road and Avery Place.

(Curiously, the Post Road is also labeled “State Street East.” That name has not been used since we shopped at Greenberg’s and Shilepsky’s.)

Mandell solicited Saugatuck retailers, restaurants and services himself. The other side of the map shows those establishments, in the familiar “slice” shape between Railroad Place, the river and Saugatuck Avenue.

The map will be included inside every Westport Weston Visitor’s Guide & Membership Directory. Like the maps, the new edition is hot off the presses.

Those guides are available at the Westport Library, Town Hall and other public places, along with many businesses and area hotels. Real estate agents buy them at cost, and offer them to clients.

The maps will also be distributed this Thursday (November 2) by Mandell and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe at the Marriott Marquis in New York. That’s the site of a “Fairfield 5” event. Besides Westport, officials from Greenwich, Stamford, Norwalk and Fairfield will promote Fairfield County as a great place to live and work.

The Chamber of Commerce printed 3,500 Visitor’s Guides with map inserts, and another 3,000 stand-alone maps. Look for them soon.

Then start walking.

The Saugatuck walking map.

8 responses to “Chamber Of Commerce Maps Walking Tours

  1. I applaud this promotion and wanted to throw out an idea to expand its scope.

    New York City has been enjoying an unprecedented boom in tourist traffic, from both the national and international sectors. Why not position Westport as a day-trip destination–just an hour outside Manhattan–where tourists can enjoy the beauty and history of New England along with first-class dining and shopping, while maintaining their hotel base in New York City?

    Think about trips you or your friends have taken to Europe. My wife and I, while staying in London years ago, took a day trip to Oxford. On another vacation, we took a day trip to Giverny while staying in Paris.

    As everyone knows, New England has a reputation for–and is a popular tourist destination due to–its fall foliage, old churches and barns, historic homes, sites of Revolutionary War battles, stone walls, etc. Westport has all of this which can be a) promoted, in part, though photos on web pages on the Chamber of Commerce site and b) viewed in more detail through self-guided tours that can be made available through an app.

    And, an integral component of this could be culture-related sites in Westport that, depending on individual tastes and interests, a variety of tourists would be interested in. Included here could be locations featured on New Yorker covers painted by Westport artists, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s summer home on Compo (along with Longshore, which was possibly a model for Gatsby’s mansion), the Westport Country Playhouse (which has fabulous vintage posters in its lobby featuring many major stars over the years), and even pop culture locations such as the Westport/Saugatuck station which can be seen in “The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit” and was part of one of the most famous “Twilight Zone” episodes, “A Stop at Willougby,” written by Westporter Rod Serling.

    A site such as the Minuteman Statue has dual appeal: to history buffs and pop culture fans (as the inspiration for a famous “I Love Lucy” episode).

    These are just examples; there are so many possibilities in creating the app in terms of what can be highlighted.

    I do know this: New England has great appeal for many tourists. And by offering some form of this app, the Chamber could be providing an option for tourists coming to New York City who can’t do a full-fledged New England trip (due to time and/or financial constraints) but would like to get a taste of the region.

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

      Fantastic idea. When in Fairfield County I take day trips into NYC so I know this will work. Take the train out and arrange for Uber to get to the attractions and shopping that are out of walking distance.

    • Fred – Already been doing that. I have had a tourism initiative for 2 years, in collaboration with CT Tourism. We have gathered many of our local businesses together to aid in their and our overall positioning.

      Just this month Time Out NY made Westport a prime Fall destination.

      (please note, I do not push the beach, ever, just our businesses)

  2. Arline Gertzoff

    My good friend Sue Wallerstein head of Art Commission inNorwalk handed me this type of walking map on a walking tour in SoNo and I passed them on to Westport Chamber Of Commerce so we all can have cool maps

  3. Katharyn Cantor

    Would be wonderful if this was available online!

  4. Matt, way to go!

  5. Another great example of Matt Mandell’s work for a better Westport. Way to go Matt!