- The Museum in the Streets -
— Danbury, Connecticut —
Over 300 patents were issued to residents of Danbury between 1800 and 1890, one of the earliest was issued to D. Hoyt in 1838 for a door hinge.
Many inventions can be attributed to progress and practical conveniences including an oven, a clothes wringer, and a refrigerator. Patents were also issued for items such as a banjo, a billiard cue tip, moccasins, a pedicycle and a soda water apparatus.
Two local women are also among those given to 19th century inventions. In 1872, Elizabeth Balmforth, for whom Balmforth Avenue was named, received a patent for her portable balcony invention. Patent number 316414 for a hat tip sewing machine went to Emma Swartout in 1885.
Inventions related to the hat making industry fueled the worldwide success and reputation of two local businesses.
Turner Machine Company had factories in Danbury and England with offices in Barcelona, Berlin, Melbourne, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Vienna and Warsaw. In addition to fur and wool hat machinery, the firm manufactured wood blocks, hatters tools and New York City subway cars.
Doran Brothers held several patents for machines related to hat manufacturing. The company survived the decline of the hatting industry by developing machinery for defense needs and components for the space program.
With the decline of hat manufacturing, companies have emerged that were, and still are, responsible for innovations in the fields of alternative energy, pharmaceuticals and technology.
In 1990, Perkin-Elmer partnered with NASA to design and manufacture the central mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope. Now under the auspices of Goodrich, this local venture into the aerospace industry has transformed astronomy for years to come.
Danbury remains a haven for creative, industrious minds. There is no doubt that new ideas are on the drawing board each and every day.