National Geographic : 2004 Feb
With its rolling lawns and elegant buildings, the campus of the Greenwich Academy is as imposing and beautiful as many full-blown universities. Founded in 1827, Connecticut's oldest school for girls, teaching preschool through grade 12, is a dream of academic girlhood. Even the lacrosse field seems an expanse of perfect, implausible green. It is an implausible green, as it turns out. The grass is artificial, an indestructible carpet woven atop a bed of syn thetic mulch. Reaching down, my fingertips bring up a fine trace of the "soil," a particulate mix of black rubber crumbs. A student walks along, singing a refrain of a song in French. Her lovely voice carries out over the field to a group of stretching athletes. I jump a few times on the ersatz turf and feel a springing weightlessness. Perhaps this buoyancy is nothing more than the boundless sense of possibility brought on by the affluence that permeates this town. A scant hour from Manhattan by train, Greenwich, Connecticut, is synonymous with wealth in America. A particular kind of wealth; specifically, Old Money-in some sense older than the nation itself. When Paul Revere rode through in 1774 (a year before his famous ride), Greenwich was already 134 years old. Were he making the trip today, he would surely have traded in his nag at the Bentley or Porsche dealerships in town. Along Greenwich Avenue, the main commercial strip, the sense of long standing privilege glows as if frozen in amber. The street is redolent of an idealized past (Gap and Banana Republic notwithstanding). Uniformed officers call out "Cross!" when it is safe to do so. The 75-year-old Subway Barber still sports its sign of art deco steel letters; in the front window, chairs in the shape of tiny red convertible roadsters seat its youngest customers. For purest nostalgia, however, nothing compares to Best & Co., a chil dren's apparel store full of antique toy cars, rocking horses, girls' wide brimmed straw hats, and boys' seersucker jackets in impossibly small sizes. The original store, established in New York City in 1879, gave up the ghost in 1971. The Greenwich incarnation is all of six years old-not that one would know it. It's a High WASP movie set, a brilliant simu lacrum of burnished wood, miniature sofas, and glass display cases imported from New York (as are many of the town's residents). Ironically, POPULATION OF ZIP CODE: Treenwich 24,552 HOMES WORTH A MILLION DOLLARS OR MORE: Nearly 2,000, or 47% MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME: $105,500 PEOPLE UVING BELOW POVERTY LINE: 1,350 Competition is fierce In the Greenwich Cup regatta (top). "It's a rich man's sport," says racer George Schlmentl, "like watching Wall Street" As for the twins' well tailored yachting suits? "Flea market, says mom Sherry Delany (above).