Modern Windsor, 1945-1965

 

 

October 12, 2002 – August 15, 2003

North Gallery

 

 

Windsor was booming. 

Modern Windsor, 1945-1965 explored one of the most important eras of growth in the town’s history—a period when Windsor became a premier American suburb. 

 

The objects and images revealed how Windsor fits into the national picture of suburbanization, growth, consumerism, and fears associated with Communism and the Cold War.  Many objects were loaned from members of the Windsor community and reflect domestic life at mid-century.  Photographs allowed visitors to peek into homes and businesses and look down the streets of postwar Windsor.  Visitors also explored a 1950s kitchen, watched vintage television shows, discovered what it was like to grow up in Windsor in this period, and learned about the big new corporations in town, including Combustion Engineering and its nuclear research.

 

In 1946 there were 29 new housing starts in Windsor.  Four years later there were 400 new house permits, more than any other year previous or since.  In 1956, one in three Windsorites was a newcomer. The town’s population in 1947 was 11,373.  It climbed to 22,000 in 1964.  Schools were perennially overcrowded no matter how many additions or new facilities the town built.  The local newspaper reported that with more people came more cars, resulting in traffic jams, lack of parking spaces downtown, frequent accidents, and the need for more streetlights and a larger police force. 

 

In 1956 the Windsor section of the Hartford-Springfield Expressway (now Interstate 91) opened, relieving some of the traffic headaches Windsorites faced on their main street (Route 5A, now Route 159).  As more new housing developments appeared, the rural infrastructure became strained.  New sewers, roads and sidewalks had to be built.  Lack of municipal trash service throughout the period led to problems with vermin, and as new homes encroached on pig farms, new residents complained about the unpleasant odors. 

 

Windsor’s growth in the period from 1945 to 1965 reflects the nation’s growth, with the triumphant baby boom, the introduction of television and mass marketing, new corporate parks, interstate highways, cars with fins, picture windows, Sputnik, and rock and roll.  As young families came to town and moved into the new developments of tract homes blossoming on former tobacco fields, Windsor’s suburban identity solidified and helped set the course for the Windsor we know today.  In 1955, the federal Urban Renewal Agency called Windsor “the best planned town of its size in the U.S.A.” 

 

Residents and town leaders embraced growth and consciously moved the town forward from a small community dependent on farming, tobacco, and small local industry, to a balanced suburban community characterized by new families, new houses, a new highway, new industry and business (with national impact), and maintenance of its historical and agricultural identity. 

 

 

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