Newtown, Connecticut: How 'The Safest Place in America' Became Tragedy Town

Esther Zuckerman
Newtown, Connecticut: How 'The Safest Place in America' Became Tragedy Town

America's hearts are beating for Newtown, Connecticut, a rural western suburb of Danbury witnesses called "the safest place in America" until Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary turned the spotlight on the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in history. On its website, Newtown is described as a "a scenic 'small town,'" and Steve Huff of the New York Observer pointed out that it was a contender for CNNMoney's Best Places to Live in 2005. Now it has been poisoned by history, turned instantly into a hamlet that will never need its state mentioned after it — a new kind of Columbine, and worse.

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The town is comprised of various "neighborhoods," one of which is Sandy Hook, in the north eastern part of Newtown:

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Newtown was profiled in the New York Times's Real Estate section about a year ago for its horse-owning community. C. J. Hughes wrote: 

The sound of hooves is even louder in Newtown, a rural community of almost 27,000 at the edge of Fairfield County. The number per square mile works out to 20, according to town officials and residents, who boast that this 60-square-mile town about 70 miles from Manhattan is among the most inviting places to keep and ride a horse in the state, and possibly the region.

Hughes paints a rustic picture of what is Fairfield County's largest town: "Newtown feels expansive, despite narrow roads that seem always to wind up hills or around bends." Per the 2010 Census the total population of the town numbers 27,560. Of the employed population, most work in management, business, science and arts occupations, and the median household income for the town is $108,148. Newtown also has notable residents, per ABC News, including the author of The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins.

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For all of the bucolic praise, like any locale Newtown is not entirely perfect: the Newtown Bee has reported on multiple child pornography cases recently. But nothing is nearly perfect in Newtown anymore.