Stamford, Connecticut has under gone widespread urban development in recent decades. The old neighborhood surrounding the canal and Yale Locks factory has evolved into one of the largest corporate headquarters in the U.S. But hiding underneath the constant, thundering traffic of I-95 is a forgotten relic of the old Stamford: a miniature ghost town.
Broken windows, rusted fences and abandoned buildings, give an eerie feeling to this forgotten corner of the city. Empty restaurants sit silently next to a modest, one-story church. Some of the old houses have decayed to the extent of resembling wooden shacks you might find in a Death Valley ghost town. The abandoned streets are set against a backdrop of a power plant, the interstate, and a frenzy of modern construction.
Manhattan Street, and its adjoining Garden and Pacific Streets, were once part of the working class community of the south end of Stamford, dominated by the Yale & Towne Lock Manufacturing Company. The company was the first to mass produce household locks and keys; Yale had its own power source, health care system, workers housing, and even ran a school. Such was the influence of Yale on Stamford, it became known as Lock City. By 1892, it employed 1 out of every 16 residents in Stamford.
But like so many other American industrial manufacturers, Yale Locks struggled in the later half of the 20th century, finally selling its plant and closing down completely in 1959, as the company moved most of its production overseas.
Whilst the old factory was turned into apartments, and the corporate office blocks flourished, little Manhattan Street was simply forgotten about, hidden in the shadow of a new construction project, the Urban Transitway, a four-lane roadway to connecting the Stamford Transportation Centre and the east side of the city.
Walking down Manhattan Street is a far cry from the wealth on display downtown today. But you can tell that this was once a thriving neighborhood. Amongst the empty buildings and weed covered lots, are an old furniture store, with a faded sign that once proudly read “operated by father & son.”