If you have lived in western Connecticut and driven Interstate 84 for an extended period of years, you have seen a lot of changes to the highway, which has been regularly upgraded to accommodate the region’s growth. What you might not know is that, along the way, there have been a few mystery entrance and exit reconfigurations that have often been lost to history.

Exit 2 in Danbury

Ever since the days of the Revolutionary War, the intersection of I-84 and Route 7 (exit 3 in Danbury) has been one of the most strategically important intersections in western Connecticut. Early settlers moved crops and other products along the dirt paths that have long since been covered by blacktop. The port of Norwalk was an important trading hub, and Route 7 was an important connection in moving goods north and south. During the Revolutionary War itself, Danbury’s strategic location made it the key munitions center and main hospital location for continental troops.

By 1865, at the end of the Civil War, the Great Danbury State Fair was started at the intersection. But, the Fair only operated for 10 days in October and, during summer months, the Race-Arena hosted stock car races. Other than that, the highly valuable real estate lay dormant.

In the early 1980s, the region was targeted for a new, large shopping mall, and the oldest continuously operating agricultural fair in the country was closed to make way for what remains to this day the largest enclosed shopping mall in New England.

To accommodate the mall, exit 3 of I-84 was completely redesigned and rebuilt, to deliver cars directly to the mall’s main entrance on Backus Avenue. What many people forget is that there was an auxiliary exit 2 on I-84 eastbound, which brought people from New York to Lake Kenosia (which, in its heyday, was a recreational destination all its own) and the Fairgrounds.

Phantom I-84 Entrances and Exits in the Greater Danbury Area

The closure made lots of sense at the time, especially for those residents who live on Christopher Columbus Avenue and Kenosia Avenue. Had this “back door” access to the mall been allowed to remain open, local traffic patterns would have been a mess and traffic jams would have been horrendous. For those who have ever tried to access the mall on the weekend leading up to Christmas, and have experienced backups stretching back onto both Route 7 and I-84 itself, you understand.

In the second of the three installments on mysterious I-84 entrances and exits, we’ll take a look at the secret entrance to i-84 that has no entrance/exit number.

Remembering the Great Danbury State Fair (1869 - 1981)


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