May 18: The Man Who 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 John…

May 17: A 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 For a Long Stay

  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: A Very Busy — and Unusually Talented — Minister

  What didn’t he do? Today in 1752, 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, was born. The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated…

May 13: The Automobile’s Electric Future Debuts — 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. A photocopy of the May 14, 1897 coverage of the Columbia…

May 12: She Won More Oscars Than Any Other Actor.

  Meryl Streep won three. So did Daniel Day Lewis 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 during her film career, more than any other actor. Katharine Hepburn, who retained close ties to…

May 11: Connecticut’s New State House Sends a Message to America

  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…

May 10: The Squabbling Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold Capture Fort Ticonderoga

u   Today in 1775, two feuding Connecticut-born patriots — Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold — forced the surrender of British-held Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York. It was one of the most significant strategic victories in the early years of the American Revolution. The fort’s capture was both marked and marred, however, by a…

May 9: The Rural Roots of the Controversial Abolitionist John Brown.

  Today in 1800, the abolitionist John Brown was born in a humble saltbox house on a farm in Torrington, Connecticut. One of the most controversial figures in United States antebellum history, Brown was, and still is, a polarizing figure. Some see him as a social justice visionary, prepared to do whatever was needed to…

May 8: The Man Who Made “Happily Ever After” Get Real

Today in 2012, longtime Connecticut resident Maurice Sendak died in Danbury from complications following a stroke. Sendak was a prolific children’s book creator who wrote and illustrated dozens of books during a more than half-century career. His path-breaking approach to reflecting the psychology of children in his work transformed the field of children’s literature. The…

May 7: A Developing Story

  For more than a century after practical photography was invented in 1839, all photographers had to wait to see the pictures they had taken until the images had gone through a lengthy, chemical developing process. The man who was to change all that, Edward Land, was born in Bridgeport today in 1909. Land, a…