May 21: Not So Fast! – America’s First Speed Limit Law

  Today in 1901, Connecticut became the first state in America to pass a law governing the speed of automobiles. According to the new law, cars were not to exceed 12 miles per hour within city limits and 15 miles per hour on rural or suburban roads, and were required to slow down whenever they…

May 20: A “Man’s Education” Taught at a Female Seminary

  Today in 1823, the first classes were held at the Hartford Female Seminary, a revolutionary new school for girls founded by author and education pioneer Catharine Beecher. Born into the wealthy and influential Beecher family in 1800, Catharine Beecher wholly devoted herself to advancing the education and betterment of young women after her fiancé…

May 18: One Summer Day, He Took the Greatest Generation on a “Sleigh Ride.”

    Today in 1975, American composer and longtime Connecticut resident Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury home. Famous for whimsical and catchy orchestral pieces, such as the perennial Christmastime favorite”Sleigh Ride,” “The Syncopated Clock,” and “Blue Tango,” Anderson’s compositions helped define popular music of mid-20th century America. Fellow composer and Boston Pops conductor…

May 17: A Middle School Project Printed On Paper, Etched in Stone

  Today in 2008, hundreds gathered at Patriots Park in Coventry, Connecticut to attend the unveiling of the first monument to honor all 612 Connecticans who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. The movement to establish the handsome, black granite monument began as part of a classroom project by students at Coventry’s Captain Nathan…

May 16: The Biggest Earthquake in Connecticut History

  Today in 1791, the Land of Steady Habits was shaken by the worst earthquake in Connecticut history. Two powerful tremors within minutes terrified residents and damaged homes throughout the center of the state. Reports from as far away as Boston and New York City confirmed the widespread impact of that night’s seismic activity. While…

May 15: Hotels’ “Queen of Mean” Checks Into Danbury Prison

  Leona Helmsley was one of the most visible celebrity billionaires of late 20th century New York. The wife of hotelier Harry Helmsley, Leona became the face of an immensely successful marketing campaign that cast her as a “queen” who would tolerate only the highest and most exacting standards for the Helmsley-owned luxury-class hotel properties….

May 14: Did This Man Ever Rest?

  What didn’t he do? Today in 1752 was the birthday of Timothy Dwight IV – minister, scholar, theologian, war chaplain, songwriter, political leader, travel writer, college president, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits. The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in…

May 13: The Electric Car Debuts. In Hartford. In 1897.

  Today in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage. It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a top speed…

May 12: She Won More Acting Oscars Than Any Other Performer.

  Meryl Streep won three. So did Daniel Day Lewis, Frances McDormand and Jack Nicholson. But though she never attended a prize show to accept any of them in person, this actor from Hartford, born today in 1907, won four Oscars for her film performances, more than any other actor. Katharine Hepburn, who retained close…

May 11: The 1796 State House: Connecticut’s Message to a New Nation

  In the early years of the American Republic, Connecticut held itself up to the nation as a model for creating the kind of stable, citizen-selected-and-run government that was central to the success of the American project. Thanks to the Royal Charter of 1662, which had given Connecticut virtual independence 114 years before the Declaration…