Danbury’s Changing Faces

Native Americans, called Paquioques, were the first people to live on the land we call Danbury. In 1684 settlers from Norwalk bought the land from the Paquioques. They began to build Danbury on the land in and around Main Street. Then even more people from Norwalk moved to Danbury.

By 1774, about 2,527 people lived in Danbury. Many came from different places and fifty of them were African Americans. Many came to work in the hat factories. After the Revolutionary War more and more people came to Danbury. By 1850, the population was 5,964.

Students at Balmforth Avenue School in 1900.
Photo courtesy of Danbury Museum.


The population was changing in many ways. Some of those people came from Ireland and Germany. Later, people from Italy, Sweden, Hungary, and Canada came to Danbury. Each of these groups of people had their own clubs and churches. Many came to Danbury because they had family members already here.

By 1910, most of the people living in Danbury came from other countries. Polish and Slovak people moved to Danbury. Families came from Lebanon, Syria, Portugal, and Brazil. Usually these people would live in separate neighborhoods where they could keep their own language, culture, and traditions.

Today over 75,000 people live in Danbury. They include Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian, African, Asian, Italian, Irish, Russian and German people. Danbury has the largest population of Brazilian people living outside of Brazil. There are over 42 languages spoken by students in Danbury's schools!