Derby History Quiz

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Division Street - A Fitting Name

Hover mouse over picture to see what it looks like today!

Original Picture courtesy of the Derby Historical Society

Division Street looks quite different today than it did when this picture was taken. The building on the left is gone, and the road has been straightened a bit and the slope made more uniform with a large retaining wall on the left. Division Street is aptly named because it is a historical reminder that the cities of Ansonia and Derby were once just one - Derby. Ansonia was a borough of the larger city of Derby which also contained another borough - Birmingham.

Historical records suggest that the residents of Ansonia felt that they were not treated fairly by the larger city government and that they were not getting their fair share of tax dollars directed their way. One story even suggests that the breaking point came with the building of the Sterling Opera House in Birmingham as many felt that there was already an opera house in Ansonia.

However an account in the New York Time form March 31, 1889 suggests that the root cause of the split was pure politics, and the loss of an election!  The article claims that in the elections of November, 1888 Mr. J.B. Wallace of Ansonia, a Republican, was stunned to lose an election by eight votes to Frederick W. Holden of Derby. According to the article, the loss incensed members of the Young Republican Club who then decided that the best way to secure Republican domination for Ansonia was to split the town in two, with the newer -now wealthier and more populous  - Borough of Ansonia going its own way as a city by itself.

Petitions were presented at the state legislature, and opposition from Derby and "West" Ansonia was swift and impassioned. They did not want to see the old town, "....sacrificed for what a few have unwarrantedly represented to the the interests of the Republican Party".  Nevertheless, the petitioners were successfull with the state legislature were successful and the Old Town of Derby was split and on November 8, 1893 Arthur H. Bartholomew was inaugurated as the city's first mayor - and the boundary line affixed between the two towns was the public street that is now Division Street.

One of the ironies as we right this is that the traditional Ansonia/Derby football rivalry resumes this week as this answer appears. Ansonia has a Democrat as mayor - Jim DellaVolpe, and Derby has a Republican - Anthony Staffieri!

An earlier postcard view. You can see Division Street running up the hill with the waters of the Naugatuck River at the bottom.

Correct answers were received from: Ann Searles, Jack Vagnini, James Allaire, Kimberley Shelton, Nick from Terryville, Stephanie Anne D'Onofrio, Jeffrey Tracz, Mary (?), Ron Sill, Brian Piccolo, Mildred Fatterusso,  Margo Bondi, Rick Dunne, Mary Suess, Bob Ahearn, Randy Ritter, Marc J. Garofalo, Pat Shelton, Tom Skowronski, Joe Dedo, Edward Baclawski, Sean Henri, Pearl Tyburski, Conrad Brejwo, Joe Melewski,  Fred Grant, Michael Grabowski, John M. Rak, Joseph Navin, Rich P., and Mary Lou Boroski.


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