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Street Scene: Downtown Danbury, Connecticut Circa 1950

Today’s feature image contains a view of the center of Danbury, Connecticut, which is located in the southwestern portion of the state about seventy miles northeast of New York City. Felt hat making was the primary industry in the city, and over two dozen hat factories were constructed there between the early-1800s and the decline of production in the mid-1920s.

The expression “Mad Hatter,” first used in England was a term to describe hat workers in the City that were regularly exposed to mercury in the hat making process that led to some of them suffering from hallucinations. Note the “Mad Hatter” store sign next to the Hotel Green in the enlargeable image below.

The photo apparently shows the intersection of Main Street and a side street in the center of the City. Note that only a handful of postwar cars are visible in this circa-1950 image.

Tell us what you find of interest in the photograph courtesy of the Connecticut History Illustrated Archive.

20 responses to “Street Scene: Downtown Danbury, Connecticut Circa 1950

  1. Based on the pharmacy name and the statue, I would hazard a guess that it’s Pershing Square, the intersection of Main and West. The statue is an 1880 Civil War memorial, now relocated to a small park at the corner of Main and West.

    The three buses whose fronts can be seen look to be a pair of GMC TDH-3610 (30-foot) and a GMC TD-3206 (28-foot). Danbury acquired them in 1948 and 1945, respectively. The fourth bus (the rear visible on the right) is one of those two models, but I can’t tell them apart from behind. It’s probably a 28-footer, since Danbury had eight of those and only four 30-footers.

  2. Since the Mad Hatter is air conditioned, it might be a cocktail lounge. The Cadillac by the monument appears to be in excellent condition for a 10 or 11 year old car. Lots of public transportation on Main Street.

    • Correct!

      Actual name at the time of the photo: “Mad Hatter Tap Room and Grill” located downstairs in the Hotel Green. The entrance to the Hotel Green is framed by the large columns visible behind the Mad Hatter sign.

    • The Mad Hatter was a “tap room and grill” that was part of Hotel Green. The hotel eventually became Ives Manor, an “affordable living community” for seniors and the disabled. From 1962-2012, the fourth floor was the home of the WLAD/WDAQ radio station.

      Pershing Square was the major transfer area at this time for the local bus system. Even today, four of the seven intracity bus lines run through Pershing Square, though the main transfer area has been moved a few blocks west.

  3. I noticed the prevalence of prewar cars. In fact, I’d placed the photo at about 1941, until I spotted the Ford waiting at the intersection. There isn’t a lot of rust or damage on the cars, either, and the Cadillac waiting to make the left has a real gleam to it, despite being a decade old.

    Did people in Connecticut take better care of their cars?

    Also, I love the font on the Pershing Pharmacy sign.

  4. Willys Wagon parked on Main behind the bus .
    Any Idea what Bohan’s sold ?
    ” CBT rate here ” @ Pershing Pharmacy ?
    1880’s Soldiers monument @ intersection of West @ Main ….

  5. First thing I thought when I saw The Mad Hatter was that it must be a bar. But who’s on the center-square plinth?

  6. Good for Danbury – all of the buildings I see in the photo still exist in good condition. None have been torn down to build “modern” glass boxes. Further, in the photo, I see nary a tree but today there must be at least 30 in the same scene.

  7. Soldiers Monument started by the women of Danbury in 1862, erected in 1880. No particular personage, just a general representation of the boys of Connecticut. You can find more at

    https:// htm (hope this passes David’s justified rules)

    or look up Danbury Connecticut Civil War Monuments like I did.

  8. Actually this picture shows more then readers noticed. The coupe at the front of the pack shows a Police car or two leading a motorcade, probably the Governor in the black lemo . Researched this photo years ago with scant results. Summer theaters were abundant in the area so it could have been someone even MORE important, like a Hollywood Star bedding at the Hotel Green.

  9. I think the Cadillac sedan by the monument is a 1940 Series 62. It is followed by a ‘38 Plymouth. Some other Plymouths -turning right heading toward camera is a ‘37, at the curb on right closest to camera is a post war ‘46-‘48 version. In the intersection turning left behind the truck is a prewar – ‘40 – ‘42 as is a one parked along the curb by Bohans. There is a ‘41 Studebaker Champion Delux -tone Cruising Sedan first in line turning left away from the camera in the intersection .

  10. The Pershing Pharmacy was owned by my Aunt Helen and Uncle Louie. They were great people. My Aunt played first chair violin in the Danbury Orchestra. She treated all her nieces and nephews as wonderfully as her children. Don’t know what happened to the sign.

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