Hudson Valley Town Laughs at Danbury’s Obsession With Hat History
The next time someone from Danbury goes on and on about hat making just tell them you're from the real hat-making capital of the word.
If you've ever visited anywhere in Danbury, CT besides the mall you've probably noticed the city's strange obsession with hats. There's the Hat City Ale House, Hat City Physical Therapy, Hat City Market, Hat City Tattoo and even a Hat City Pawn Shop.
So why is Danbury so crazy about hats? According to the Boston Globe, it all dates back to the 1880s. That's when Danbury was known as the Hatting Capital of the World. At their peak, Danbury was making over 5 million hats per year. The Danbury motto was "Danbury Crowns Them All."
Of course, time and fashions change. Eventually, the hat factories closed and the rest of the world moved on. But Danbury couldn't seem to let go of their hat-based identity and continued to tout their hatting history long after anyone else cared. Today the local high school team is called the Hatters and there is even a Hat City Craft Beer Festival planned on October 12.
None of this would really matter to us in the Hudson Valley if we didn't, in fact, also have just as big of a hat-making history in our area. During the time of Danbury's hat-glory days, Beacon was also just as crazy about hats. In fact, there were 50 hat factories located on the Fishkill Creek. One company, Dutchess Hat Works, even had a huge showroom in Manhattan.
But do you hear Beacon screaming about hats every day? No, they've moved on and rebuilt their town to become one of the hottest new tourist destinations in the Northeast. A few years ago the city did dabble with the idea of hosting an annual "hat parade" but that didn't last very long. Unconfirmed reports say that residents didn't want to look as "sad and desperate as Danbury."
So while Danbury joins hands around the 14-foot bronze statue of a hat maker in front of city hall (no, seriously, it's there), Beacon will try not to snicker too hard, knowing that they have just as big of a hat history, but plenty of other things to brag about now.