Friday Flashback #360

The other day, I posted a story about my flight over Westport.

From 3,500 feet, in a 3-seat prop plane, I got a remarkable view of our town.

I marveled at the amount of water. The compactness of downtown and Saugatuck. And the many, many trees that provided a canopy, nearly everywhere.

In 1934, a statewide project photographed every square inch of the state.

The images are housed at the University of Connecticut. They’re fascinating.

Fred Cantor found this shot of Westport:

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

Amonghe surprises, he writes, are “how many houses there were by that point in the Compo Beach neighborhood (bottom center of the photo), and the fairly large number of houses in the Compo Hill/Old Mill Beach neighborhood (just above it).

“I imagine most of these were probably not winterized, but still…”

However, Fred adds, “I expected to see more homes directly on South Compo Road, leading from the train tracks to the beach.”

Also of note: The crooked intersection of South Compo, Bridge Street and Greens Farms Road (just above the railroad tracks). It looked a bit different, before I-95 was built 2 decades later.

What do you notice? Click “Comments” below to share your observations.

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18 responses to “Friday Flashback #360

  1. There is a lot of vacant land between South Comp and Hillspoint Roads that looks like it was farmland. I remember the Gonczi Farm north of Greens Farms where there is now an office complex. Also, Vani Court and the sewage treatment plant don’t show up just south of the RR tracks; they had not yet been built. The mysterious Penguin building on Hillspoint is just barely visible, but it is impossible to tell what was going on inside!!!!

  2. Please print more of these; they’re fascinating

  3. As as kid entranced with trains, I remember how close Greens Farms Road came to the tracks. Arriving from Pittsburgh in 1955 , a city then awash in streetcars, I was amazed that the railroad seemed to be a combination railroad/streetcar line with its electrification.

  4. Most of the homes at the beach were strictly summer cottages. The NYC set used to summer at Compo, my mother included. Many were former WW1 army barracks floated up the Sound from NY. There are still a few left including #20 Norwalk Ave.

    • Dave, I had never heard that before about the former WWI army barracks and that they were floated up the Sound from NY. Fascinating, thanks!

  5. Looks like a lot of farmed land. Many more trees today!

    In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Connecticut was over 80% farm land- hence all the farmer stone walls in the woods. You can see them when you drive the Merritt Parkway. Today Connecticut is over 80% forest with very few farms.

    • Our house at the end of High Point Road, and the adjoining houses, had/have a stone wall at the end of the property. This might have been put up by the builder, Mr. Zulo, to clear the property of rocks. Originally there was forest behind it (and to my 2nd grade self it had Indians, lions and tigers in it so we never went too far inside). Soon this was all demolished for the new Staples High School, but the stone wall remind. I don’t know if they relocated the Indians, lions and tigers.

    • Still a lot of farms in Eastern Connecticut. If you drive just a few miles north of where I live (at the Rhode Island border) you’ll see a lot of farmland – endless fields now with corn, lots of cows, big, lovely views.

  6. India van voorhees

    Regarding Compo homes, my mother told me that my paternal grandmother was the first to winterize. She had a house on Danbury Ave. That probably would have been in the ’40s (although possibly late 30s). I can still see the house in my mind’ s eye – about 3 doors down from Soundview on the left as you faced the water. Very dark wood. It’s gone now, of course.

  7. I have never been good at figuring out maps. That’s true here. Looking at the harbor at Compo Beach it looks huge and that was before it was enlarged around 1959-60. Enlarging what I see here would take much of the south beach, I would think. Also the entrance and roads into Owenoke are very peculiar. My memory of Owenoke is one road between two rows of houses.

    But the view of Greens Farms Road I completely understand. All the houses that were once there were exactly where the turnpike is now and the new Greens Farms Road to Hillspoint was built on empty land that still looks a bit vacant.

  8. I remember as a kid in the 1950s finding tons of arrowheads that were carved by Indans, their sharp point blunted by centuries of weathering.

    • I remember the arrow head craze of the 1950s. I wonder if the Arrow Restaurant’s name had maybe some connection with arrow heads on the property?

  9. The beach is narrower ⛱️

  10. I would love to see this map larger – I can see our house there, and would love to get a better picture of it! So cool to see these older shots!

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