Business and Labor

Flashback Photo: Stamford, Conn., in the 1950s

Walter R. Dolan Junior High School, Stamford, 1950s. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Walter R. Dolan Junior High School, Stamford, 1950s. Courtesy Library of Congress.

This young girl standing in the entrance of a brand-new junior high school looks as if she’s getting ready for the changes overtaking Stamford, Conn., in the 1950s. It’s April 28, 1952, and she’s gazing at a display of dolls from around the world even as the treaty with Japan goes into effect that day, officially ending World War II.

That month, an I Love Lucy episode became the first in history to be seen in 10 million homes. The B-52 Stratofortress flew for the first time. And on the day after this photograph was taken, Lever House opened in New York City, ushering in a new style of commercial architecture that would soon appear in Stamford.

Stamford was undergoing a transformation caused by the flight to the suburbs and the decline of industry in the Northeast. Manufacturing of products from wallpaper to postage meters had dominated the city’s commerce for decades. But by the time this photo was taken, Stamford’s factories were closing. The city’s largest employer, Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co., was in the process of packing up and moving South.

Stamford would take advantage of its proximity to New York City and lure corporations and financial companies to fill its new office buildings. Its decaying downtown would be bulldozed for an ambitious – and much-criticized – urban renewal project. The city would lose its industrial character and become a corporate suburb.

All that was in the future on April 28, 1952, when this junior high school student gazed at the display case in the entrance to the four-year-old Walter R. Dolan Junior High School. She likely would graduate and enter Stamford’s senior high school, which, according to the Chamber of Commerce, ‘has a fine record of placement for its graduates in colleges and professions.’ Perhaps she would go to work in Stamford’s new downtown.

Here’s the entire photo:

Stamford in the 50s: Walter R. Dolan Junior High School, Toms Road, Stamford, Connecticut. Entrance foyer 1952

 

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