By Ethan Shea
In last week’s “Peek at the Week” blog, Annie pointed out that Saturday, Jan. 28, was National LEGO Day. To prolong celebration of the holiday a bit longer, this installment of “Cat in the Stax” will explore the history of this world-renowned toy.
I was quite literally raised in the shadow of LEGO, as the company’s North American branch is headquartered in Enfield, Connecticut, the town I grew up in. The soccer field I played at was called LEGO Field, and I would routinely drive by the three massive LEGO bricks shown above.
However, LEGO recently announced that they will be moving their HQ from Enfield to Boston. This move will not be complete until 2026, but as a former resident of Enfield, it stings a little.
How did LEGO end up in a run-of-the-mill town like Enfield anyways? Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown. But I have always wondered why a massive company like LEGO would choose Enfield over a city like New York or Boston. I guess LEGO was thinking the same thing…
Anyways, after a bit of research, I learned why LEGO has been in Connecticut for so long.
In 1961, the Shwayder family, known for luggage manufacturing, was authorized to produce and sell LEGO in the United States. At the time, they were based in Brookfield, Connecticut.
Since the Shwayder family was mostly familiar with the luggage business, LEGO sales began to fall. To remedy the situation, they brought in a man named Jack Sullivan. They collectively decided headquartering in Brookfield was part of the problem and eventually chose Enfield to be the new home of LEGO simply because it is located near the midpoint between New York and Boston. Sullivan also lived in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, just a hop, skip and jump away from Enfield.
If you would like to learn less hyper-localized facts about LEGO, there are plenty of resources available through Falvey. Here are a few I recommend checking out:
- The Cult of LEGO – John Baichtal
- LEGO Manufacturers: The Kristiansen Family – Lee Slater
- Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry – David Robertson
Lastly, I hope you enjoy this photo of the LEGO creations my roommate and I recently put together. We have grown to love the Botanical Collection, so our plastic garden is blooming!
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.