August 2: Connecticut’s Final Public Hanging

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s history as colony and state,however, public executions with large crowds attending were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were major community events, attracting hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of onlookers to watch the…

August 1: Hartford’s First Home Team Gets A Major-League Trophy.

  The Charter Oak Base Ball Club, founded in the summer of 1862, was the first baseball team to be formed in Hartford. Their stated mission was to “establish on a scientific basis the health-giving and scientific game of Base Ball, and to promote good fellowship among its players.” In the age before national professional…

July 31: A New Era in Urban Transportation Begins Reshaping City Life

  Today in 1900, one of the first electrically powered trolley lines in the United States began service on the three-mile run between Branford and East Haven. It was a relatively short trip that launched major and permanent changes in Connecticut’s urban settlement patterns and lifestyles. The inaugural run of the Branford Electric Railway was…

July 30: Powder Ridge: The Epic Rock Festival That Never Was.

  Today in 1970, a sea of nearly 30,000 concertgoers circumvented police roadblocks and hiked up Beseck Mountain in Middlefield, Connecticut with high hopes of attending a rock concert — and party — for the ages. In an attempt to ride the momentum of the wildly popular rock n’ roll megaconcert at Woodstock in 1969,…

July 29: A Determined Minister’s Swim for Justice

  In 1926, a group of eastern Connecticut investors hoping to capitalize on the state’s new car culture, expanding highway system, and Roaring 20’s prosperity, purchased a large spring-fed wetland in Andover Connecticut. They cleared trees, cut roads, and built the 550 foot-long dam that created beautiful Andover Lake. When completed in 1928, they ran…

July 28: The World’s First Hamburger

  July 28, 1900 was shaping up to be an average summer day for lunch wagon owner and German immigrant Louis Lassen, who was serving sandwiches and other hot meals to factory workers in New Haven during their lunch breaks. Suddenly, a local businessman, Gary Widmore, rushed up to Lassen’s wagon and desperately asked for…

July 27: The River That Made Us Connecticut

  Today in 1998, Vice President Al Gore officially designated the Connecticut River as an American Heritage River, one of only 14 such waterways in the nation. In his remarks, Gore recognized the central role the Connecticut played in shaping not only the environment and physical character of New England, but also the economic and…

July 25: New Haven-born Duo Tops the Charts with a Four-Time Retread

  Today in 1970, The Carpenters, the iconic pop music duo consisting of New Haven-born siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter, experienced the first major breakthrough of their musical careers. They did so with a song that had previously been recorded by a host of other performers. The pair achieved “overnight stardom” (after a decade of…

July 24: Ancient Incan City Puts Hiram Bingham III on the Map

  Hiram Bingham III was, without a doubt, one of the most colorful people to grace the annals of Connecticut history. Born in 1875, over the course of his lifetime he became an Ivy League-educated scholar of Latin America, pilot, amateur archaeologist, Yale professor, United States senator, best-selling author, and the duly elected governor of…

July 23: Abby Smith and Her Cows Go Viral –– in 1874

  Today in 1879, Abigail “Abby” Hadassah Smith, — who achieved instant national fame at  age 76 because of the way she responded to the man who took her cows —  passed away at her home in Glastonbury. Born into a prominent activist Glastonbury family, Smith and her four sisters were educated from birth to…

July 22: Mohegan Minister Samson Occom Preaches Up An Ivy League College

  Samson Occom, one of the Mohegan tribe’s most famous members and a direct descendant of the great 17th-century tribal leader Uncas, was born in 1723 in southeastern Connecticut. As a teenager, he converted to Christianity after attending one of the many revivals held throughout Connecticut as part of the first Great Awakening. When he…