Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bank Street Facades

A couple of buildings on Bank Street downtown are getting facade renovations. If you haven't been there lately, you should go check it out. If you can't get there, I've included some photos. Ideal Jewelers has removed their circa 1970 storefront facade and will be replacing with something that is a little more in keeping with the rest of the building's design (at least, that's the plan I saw a year ago). Maybe Goldsmith's facade will be next. 

I don't know what the plan is for the other building (on the corner of Bank and Center Streets), but it's nifty to see the decorative medallions that have been hidden by cement slabs for many decades.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Best Places--the kid's point of view

The recent ranking of Waterbury as one of the best places to raise a family got me thinking about the kid's view. Parents look for low crime rates, affordability, good schools. Kids, I think, just want to have plenty of fun things to do.

I lived in a lot of different places when I was growing up. The place I liked the least was Watertown. We lived in a lovely suburban neighborhood, where everyone had a large house and a large yard. And that was it. There was no where to go, nothing to do. In the winter, we sometimes went sledding over at Taft, but only if there was enough snow. Going downtown wasn't a lot of fun, since it was pretty much just a dangerous highway (there was one time when my friend and I were walking somewhere along Route 63, no sidewalk, and my dog got run over; the driver never slowed down or stopped, even though he had to have seen two young girls running across the street after the dog he just hit; the dog, miraculously, was fine).

I spent a fair amount of time in Waterbury and always had a good time. It was relatively easy to walk or bicycle to wherever I wanted to go, and there were places I wanted to go!

Thinking back, here are the things that I think make for a good place to be raised: parks and playgrounds; skating rinks; sledding hills; swimming pools; ample sidewalks; ice cream trucks; malls (I hate to admit to that one, but it's true); trees to climb; history and science museums; libraries with good children's departments; festivals and fairs; plenty of trees to keep the streets shaded during the hot summer months; and just enough adult supervision to keep the bullies in check and to help you when you fall out of the tree you were climbing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Family Friendly

Waterbury has recently been ranked among the best places in the country to raise a family by BestLife magazine. We came in at number 43, after Stamford (#15). No other city or town from Connecticut made the list.

View more on MSN's website.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Grand Street Block Party

The Hops n Rock party is this Saturday, May 24, 7 to 11 pm. Admission is now free, so don't miss out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Duck Season!

The third annual duck race on the Naugatuck River is coming up--the race begins at 2pm on June 1st, from the Whittemore bridge in Naugatuck. For full information and to buy your duck(s), visit

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Block Party!

There was a party on my street last night that was organized as a fundraiser cookout for the daughter of Julius Sockwell, who was shot by a friend one year ago. It's a very tragic motivation for a party, but it's also a great memorial.

The party didn't really get going until around 5pm (and was over by 10pm). There was a DJ playing dance music, and probably close to a hundred people either sitting on their porches watching, dancing in the street, or hanging out on the sidewalk with friends. Maybe half the people were little kids--after a couple hours, I remembered that I had some left over chalk, so I brought that out for some of the kids to play with. I wound up talking to an older kid (maybe 10 or 11) about how guns are dangerous. He gave me the low-down on gangs in our neighborhood (I can now identify Crips and Bloods), and we talked about how there are better choices than joining a gang. It sounded like his mom and his aunt have been working hard to keep him out of trouble. It sounded like he was almost reciting what they had taught him.

The only real downside to the party is that they didn't shut down the street. There were a lot of drivers using the street as a cut-through to get somewhere else. Fortunately, the dancers were blocking the middle of the street--some of the drivers started out going too fast and might have hit one of the little kids running around, but they were forced to slow down and stop because of the crowd. The cops came by at one point and told the dancers to stay out of the middle of the road, which they did for a little while. Next year, the party organizers should get permission to shut the street down completely.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Google Maps has a new photographic feature through -- anyone can upload photographs of buildings, parks, streetscapes, etc., and those images will show up whenever anyone views a Google map of the location. It's very cool. I just spend half an hour adding some of my Waterbury photos.

Users can search through the map, or they can search for keywords.

To access the Google map, go to, search for a location, and click the "Explore the Area" link to the left.

One thing to be aware of: photographs are pinpointed to the location from which they were taken. So, for example, some photographs of the Union Station clock tower are located over by the library.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Naugatuck River Race

I had to work yesterday, so I couldn't go to the canoe trip down the Naugatuck (from Waterbury to Beacon Falls). Maybe I'll do it on my own someday, when I'm feeling brave (I shudder to think of paddling past the sewage treatment plant at the wrong time of day).

The video is from the Republican-American website and has some nice shots of the river (you can download a copy by going to the multimedia page--they also have photographs online).

I hope more activities happen with the river. Keeping it clean is the first step.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New History at the Mattatuck

After 20 years, the history exhibit at the Mattatuck Museum has been taken down and replaced with something spectacular! The new exhibit tells the story of Waterbury and the region up to the present day. It includes open storage cases, bringing hundreds of collection objects out where you can see them. Familiar stories are told in new ways. A variety of technologies, from state-of-the-art to tried-and-true, allow you to explore in-depth or just plain have fun (there's something for nearly all ages).

Opening day is this Saturday, with free admission all day long, and a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11am.