More than development. Norwalk redevelopment.

Heritage Tourism

Ever visited Faneuil Hall and the Old North Church along Boston’s Freedom Trail? Or browsed the stalls of Fulton Market at New York’s South Street Seaport? If so, then you are a part of a growing niche in the tourism market known as heritage tourism!

Heritage tourism is essentially tourism that is focused on an area’s historic and cultural assets. It is about drawing visitors to those places that have made the city what it is today. And, economically, it’s the sweet spot.

Because heritage tourism focuses on those assets that are truly local in nature, it tends to have tremendous, self-reinforcing impact on the local economy. Studies have shown that heritage tourists tend to visit a place longer and spend more money while there than other kinds of travelers. Heritage tourism can promote community pride, help to diversify the local economy, and add to the quality of life of residents who take advantage of their town’s services and attractions.

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Norwalk is full of historical sites, and luckily for connectivity, many of these assets are located right within the Plan area. The designated historical neighborhoods of Wall Street and SoNo anchor either end of the downtown. The six museums (Stepping Stones, the Lockwood Matthews Mansion, the Norwalk Historical Society, the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium, the Norwalk Museum, and the Norwalk Switch Tower Museum) offer an abundance of things to do and see.  The corridor also has two historical burial grounds and, of course is, in its entirety, the center and origin of Norwalk’s 350+ year history.

Drawing on lessons from the Adams Morgan neighborhood in DC (or the town of Middletown, CT for an example closer to home), Norwalk could designate a ‘heritage trail’ that links downtown Norwalk’s historical and cultural attractions. Wayfindingmaps and markers could be used to guide visitors from one site to the next. The trail would wind its way throughout the Plan area, encouraging visitors to support downtown businesses as they go.