Friday Flashback #373

Westport is not — and never was — a “city.”

But in 1959 — a year before the US census put our population at 20,955 — we were named an “All America City.”

The honor — bestowed by the National Municipal League and Look magazine — was for “progress achieved through intelligent citizen action” during 1958.

A banner reading “All America City” was raised on a flagpole at then-new Parker Harding Plaza. Westporters proudly displayed posters, bumper stickers and flags.

On February 26, 1959, the Town Crier published a special edition about the award. It noted the 6 areas of competition: “governmental structure, rational land use, tax reform, education, refuse disposal and a sound police organization.”

Among those sending congratulations: President Eisenhower, Senator Thomas Dodd, Governor Abraham Ribicoff, and former Governor John Davis Lodge.

Of course, Lodge had a special reason to be pleased: He lived in this All-America City.


50 Years Ago This Week:

The newly formed Westport Transit District announced that its first public hearing would be held December 10 in the “Town Courtroom,” at police headquarters.

The primary topic would be to consider the purchase of 9 minibuses and other equipment, along with plans tied into the proposed bus routes

A Westport Minnybus, at its Jesup Green hub.

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7 responses to “Friday Flashback #373

  1. Ah, the beautiful Minny Bus. Bus 2 down to the beach was our bus. What a great sense of freedom that gave to kids.

  2. Dan your mention of All American city brought back memories of a dear friend, Joe McAleenan former Westport police officer and Weston Police Chief where we worked together for 15 years. He loved Westport and loved telling me (an outsider then from Pa) everything about his beloved Westport, including its ‘All American’ city award.

    Ed Gomeau

  3. Scoooter Swanson, Wrecker '66

    The big jump in population to 27K, which it remains, in Westport (never know it from the traffic) occurred in the 1960’s but it did not hurt that the publisher of Look Magazine lived on Sylvan Road on receiving the bestowed and much heralded honor.

  4. John Davis Lodge was from a legendary political family. His brother, Henry Cabot Lodge ran with Richard Nixon as his vice presidential candidate in 1960 and spoke at Staples High School. He arrived late at his speaking engagement as his entourage first took him to the old Staples high school on Riverside Avenue, where he probably was amazed to find no crowd to greet him in the then heavily Republican town.

  5. I drove Maxi-Taxis in 1980. They were Dodge vans with multiple seats.

  6. Dorrie Barlow Thomas

    The minnybus was just the best thing. Might be one of the most pivotal things of my childhood, given the freedom and access to life that it provided. And aren’t they just the cutest, most happy looking little things?! I will never forget that little chug-chug-chug sound of them puttering their way towards us.

    • It would have been great to have when I was growing up. My mother spent countless hours driving my sister and myself around to scout meetings, YMCA, Miss Comer’s dance class. bowling league, Burying Hill Beach, religious school and church (she never actually attended church, but was in a carpool with other non-attenders–my father spent Sunday at the golf course.

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