Stamford Harbor is located in Fairfield County in southwestern Connecticut at the mouth of the Pippowam River on Long Island Sound. It is about 35 nautical miles southwest of the Port of New Haven and about 65 kilometers northeast of the Port of New York. Until the 1970s, Stamford Harbor was a residential suburb of New York with limited industry and research laboratories. In 2000, Stamford Harbor was home to over 117 thousand people, and more than 353 thousand lived in the Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area.
In the latter 20th Century, several corporations moved their headquarters to Stamford Harbor's downtown area, bringing new life to the city. Today, Stamford Harbor boasts one of the largest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the United States. Some of the larger companies headquartered in Stamford Harbor today include Time Warner Cable, Pitney Bowes, Thomson Corporation, Tasty Bite, and World Wrestling Entertainment. In 2009, the Royal Bank of Scotland moved its operations in North America to Stamford Harbor. In addition, many large corporations -- including Xerox, NBC, GE Capital, International Paper, and Clairol -- have offices outside the city
The indigenous peoples of the region called the Stamford Harbor area Rippowam, and the first European settlers adopted that name. Later, the name was changed to honor a town in Lincolnshire County, England. The deed to Stamford Harbor was purchased from Chief Ponus in 1640 by Puritan Captain Turner from the New Haven Colony.
The Puritans chose the Stamford Harbor site due to its abundant oyster beds and fisheries. The salt marshes there also provided ample cordgrass and salt hay for their livestock, and the forests sheltered plentiful game and timber. By the end of the 17th Century, the rivers banks were dotted with grist mills, sawmills, and wool production factories.
Commerce along the Rippowam River continued to grow, and traffic to New York City naturally shifted from difficult overland routes to waterborne routes on Long Island Sound. When trade with the West Indies began to prosper, vessels from Stamford Harbor carried exports of grain, horses, lumber, and salt beef and port and imported sugar, salt, molasses, and rum.
Stamford Harbor was important during the American Revolution not only for maritime trade but for British raids on towns in western Connecticut. The Stamford Harbor whaleboat fleet was used for counter attacks on British ships and shoreside installations. After the end of the revolution, Stamford Harbor continued to evolve as an important transportation hub for the region.
With unwieldy and rocky roads and no railroad, water transportation continued to be the mode of choice for regular travelers from New York to Boston during the early 1800s. Stamford Harbor was designated an official port of entry by the United States' federal government. In 1833, work began on a ship canal from the river to the city center. By the 1840s, Stamford Harbor was active in coastal trade as well as in trade with the Caribbean Islands.
In the later 1800s, the federal government authorized improvements for Stamford Harbor, recognizing its importance to maritime commerce to the Nation. The lighthouse was built in 1881, and a channel was dredged from Long Island Sound to Stamford Harbor's wharves in 1886.
In addition to commerce, passenger traffic flourished in Stamford Harbor during the 1800s. The Stamford Steamboat Company operated three trips a week between Stamford and New York City, and several competitors were established during the middle 19th Century. Even after rail service between Stamford Harbor and New York began in 1848, the steamboats continued to operate.
The Industrial Revolution arrived in Stamford Harbor in the second half of the 19th Century. In 1868, the Yale Lock Company came to Stamford Harborfrom Massachusetts to take advantage of the town's rail, canal, harbor, and large pool of craftsmen. By 1892, the company employed about one thousand of the city's 16 thousand residents, making Stamford Harbor the "Lock City."
Expanding rail services during the early 20th Century reinforced Stamford Harbor's position as a suburb to New York. The number of affluent residents increased in Stamford Harbor, and many New Yorkers built summer homes there.
In the early 20th Century, Stamford Harbor grew as an attractive recreational resource on Long Island Sound. The Stamford Yacht Club had been created in 1890, and city leaders promoted Stamford Harbor has the place to sail, sunbathe, and enjoy outdoor recreation. Sailing excursions became popular for the affluent, and the city's beaches were crowded on weekends and during the summer.
By 1930, Stamford Harbor boasted over one hundred industrial facilities that employed some ten thousand people. The Great Depression slowed the local industrial economy for several decades.
Remaining a small commuter suburb for much of its history, Stamford Harbor undertook an ambitions urban redevelopment effort in the 1960s and 1970s. Many new tall buildings replaced the former downtown skyline, and many major corporations moved their headquarters from New York to Stamford Harbor. This development has continued into the 21st Century.