Norwalk Islands / Harbor
HistoryNorwalk Harbor is one of the most important centers of recreational boating, commercial shell fishing, and other water-dependent activities in the western Long Island Sound. Much of Norwalk's history, from the city's initial settlements to the present day, can be told with reference to the Harbor. Water-dependent facilities today include 15 marinas and 13 private clubs with boating facilities.
There are over 1,800 berthing spaces and over 500 mooring locations serving recreational vessels in the Harbor (Online mooring application).
Also, over 800 boats are launched regularly from storage racks at marinas and clubs and from city boat launches. There are over 2,700 commercial vessel trips to and from the Harbor's port facilities each year.
The Norwalk River flows south for about 20 miles before entering Long Island Sound. The lower reach of the River, from Wall Street to the Sound, gives shape to Norwalk Harbor.
The city's first commercial wharves were located near Wall Street at the "Head of Navigation." In the 1800s, this area was the bug of the city and the bridge over the Norwalk River was known as the Great Bridge. Near the bridge was the city's most prominent mercantile establishment - E. Lockwood and Sons - and the Lockwood wharf from which local sloops sailed to all major east coast ports and the West Indies.
In 1955, a great flood swept through the city and destroyed much of the Wall Street area and the central business district, which significantly changed the appearance of the city.
The Connecticut Thruway was built across the Norwalk River in 1958. The area on the west side of the river, just downstream of the Thruway Bridge, was used for many years as a garbage dump and landfill. This area is now a beautiful waterfront park known as Oyster Shell Park. It is an important component of the later created Norwalk Heritage Park, which encompasses a number of public places and historic locations on and near the Harbor. Today, the federal navigation channel extends to the Wall Street area and serves water-dependent commerce and recreational marinas.