A Brief Description of Old Greenwich
On July 18, 1640, English settlers fled puritanical New Haven and found more hospitable drinking grounds here along the shores of “Monakewago” – “Shining Sands”. They promptly purchased the place from the local Siwanoy Indians for ” Twentie-five coates” and lifetime passes to the beach they intended to create and call “Old Greenwich“. Four years later, deciding that there are limits to any lifetime pass, the English combined with Dutch soldiers and marched northwest, possibly to what’s now the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and wiped out all 500 Siwnaoys who had the misfortune to have settled in a winter camp there. Old Greenwich‘s tolerance for unwelcome beach visitors has not improved since then.
But residents can and do enjoy the beach all year around. Together with the village itself, it’s the focal point of this section of Greenwich and defines it. Almost every house south of the Village is within walking distance of the beach and if it isn’t, its value suffers. Not that many people actually walk there, mind you; it’s the theoretical possibility of doing so that’s the draw – similar to the $250,000 gourmet kitchens installed in every house regardless of the owner’s ability or desire to cook.
So what does Old Greenwich offer residents? A nifty little library that overlooks Binney Park (named for the Crayola family who donated funds for its creation), a bookstore, a coffee shop, a bread store, a couple of decent restaurants, a grocery store, at least until it succumbs to the competitive pressure of the huge new ShopRite across the border, a railroad station and an okay elementary school. It’s all pretty much self-contained; leave your SUV in the City.
What is impossible to find is privacy. Old Greenwich was developed as a summer colony of cute little bungalows and, while the zoning has been upgraded most of the lots have not, so your neighbors will know exactly who’s coming to your house for dinner and what they’re going to be served. Balancing that is the ability of your kids to open their back door and play with their friends – no carpools, no chauffeuring and, until they’re over 11, no whines of boredom. It’s a grand place to raise a family.