Located in the southeast corner of Stamford and known to residents simply and affectionately as “The Cove”, this coastal community offers many amenities and recreational activities on the waterfront which are attractive to residents and visitors alike. The jewel of the neighborhood and one of Stamford’s most popular parks is Cove Island.
Cove Island wasn’t always a nature haven. In fact, Cove Island became separated from the mainland after a flour watermill was constructed on the land and expanded by its owners in the late 1700s. Henry J. Sanford bought the property in the 1830’s and founded Stamford Manufacturing Co. in 1844 which manufactured dye extracts, bleached minerals and licorice. The factory on Cove Island stayed in business until 1919, when it burned down, with the Stamford Advocate calling it one of the most damaging fires in city history. Over time, the island was converted to a park by the City of Stamford, with the US Army Corps of Engineers developing the island’s beach in the late 1950s. (Who knew I’ve been going to that beach since the very beginning!)
You could say Cove Island Park “has it all” – developed recreation facilities, a 1-mile loop walking/running trail with a trolley shuttling people between the beaches & parking. Other amenities include a children’s play area, a roller blade/cycling path, expansive lawn areas and Terry Connors Ice Rink. There are two sandy beaches, a small salt marsh, inter-tidal mudflats, boat docks plus Holly Pond and the Cove River offering great opportunities for bird watching. Rocky shoreline areas offer a place for anglers to hook that “big one” and a small bluff offers an excellent place for those looking for an expansive view of the Sound
Since 2000, the park has been the headquarters of SoundWaters, the community’s nonprofit environmental education resource in the Long Island Sound region. They offer educational programs about Long Island Sound and provide additional programs in conjunction with Stamford Public School classrooms.
While Cove Island Park provides an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities Chelsea Piers opened in 2013 offering sporting enthusiasts a year round indoor recreational experience. Chelsea Piers is one of the finest sports and recreational facilities in the country, offering instructional programs, sports leagues, competitive teams, fitness and drop-in fun for children and adults. It is also the second largest (400,000 sq. ft.) sports and entertainment complex under one roof in the United States! It is located on Blachley Road on the former Clairol factory site, right off exit 9 of I95.
Since we’re talking history, before Chelsea Piers and the Clairol factory plant, the Blachley Rd. site was known as Noroton Hill and was home to the estate of one of The Cove’s most prominent residents, Schuyler Merritt. A community leader and congressman for many years, Schuyler Merritt is best known as the chairman of the commission of the Merritt Parkway (one of the most iconic roadways in America), which later was named in his honor.