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9. Danbury Hatting Capitol of the Country

In Danbury continue on Rte. 37 south (Padanaram Rd.) and North St. (Rte. 37) go under the overpass of I-84. At the junction of Rte. 37 (North St.) and Rte. 53 (Main St.) take a left onto Rte. 53 south (Main St.).

Danbury is a multi-ethnic city that offers something for everyone and is an excellent base for exploring western Connecticut. Nearby Candlewood Lake, Squantz Pond, a myriad of dining and shopping experiences including the state's largest mall, world-class lodging and several intriguing museums make this city a delight to explore.

Danbury was once known as the "hatting capital" of the country. An abundance of water and marshes that attracted beavers were the key elements essential to hat making and at that time Danbury had both. The industry has been traced back to Zadoc Benedict who began a shop in Danbury in 1780. By the early 19th century there were over 40 shops making hats in Danbury. The glue that was used to bind the felt lining in hats contained mercury. Hatters handling mercury over a period of time went insane, so the legend goes, coining the phrase "mad as a hatter". By the end of the 1800's a clever businessman developed the process of making hats without the use of mercury.

By 1909 Danbury was making 36 million hats a year from cowboy hats to fedoras to top hats and became known as Hatting Capital of the World. The decline of the "hat culture" is attributed to the automobile industry because hats became cumbersome to wear in cars. In 1987, Stetson was the last hat factory to leave Danbury marking the end of an era.