July 13: P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Performance Wasn’t on a Stage

  Today in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent. Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz veteran…

July 12: The Car of the Future — in 1933

  R. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor, architect, author, and futurist best known for his popularization of the geodesic dome, was one of the most prolific public intellectuals of the early 20th century. In the early 1930s, Fuller coined the word “Dymaxion” — a portmanteau of the words “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “tension” — and applied it…

July 7: The Burning and Looting of Fairfield

Throughout the Revolutionary War, Connecticut citizens lived in fear of devastating British raids on shoreline communities. From the British perspective, Connecticut was a nest of rebel activity, both overt and covert. Not only was it home to a government that had early and ardently supported the Patriot cause, its shoreline towns openly gave shelter to…

June 16: The Liberty Bell’s Whistle-Stop Tour of Connecticut

  Today in 1903, just after 6:00 p.m., one of the most iconic symbols of American freedom — the Liberty Bell — arrived in Connecticut. Over the next 24 hours, it would visit five Connecticut cities and towns, giving tens of thousands of Connecticans a chance to see and be seen in its presence, before…

May 30: 12,000 Bridgeport Workers Mobilize to Support Striking Trolleymen

  Today in 1922, Bridgeport’s Central Labor Union issued a formal call to all its 12,000 members to support the striking trolleymen who worked for the Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company, triggering months of labor unrest in one of Connecticut’s largest cities. The Connecticut Railway and Lighting Company was the primary operator of electric trains,…

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…

April 25: A Man Named Winchester Targets The Rifle Industry.

Oliver Fisher Winchester (1810 – 1880)In early 1857, businessman Oliver Winchester bought controlling interest in a struggling Connecticut firearms company from two inventors by the name of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. With access to machine tools, raw materials, and a number of valuable patents — especially rights to the Henry Repeating Rifle, the world’s…

April 5: P.T. Barnum Elected Mayor of Bridgeport – Not His Greatest Show

  Today in 1875, Phineas T. Barnum was elected Mayor of Bridgeport, at the age of 64. Though internationally acclaimed as an entertainment impresario and well respected as a politician at the state level, Barnum’s short mayoral tenure was not the greatest showing for a man still remembered as one of America’s most successful entertainers,…

April 3: The Sewing Machine Patent Wars

  Inventor and longtime Connecticut resident Elias Howe Jr. may not have invented the first sewing machine, but he was the first person to obtain a U.S. patent for one in 1846. Howe’s success in patenting his novel “lockstitch” sewing machine, which was the first to feature the automatic thread feed that remains a crucial…

March 19: A Fallen Star Rises Again

  When 32-year-old Joseph Ganim became mayor of Bridgeport in 1991, he had the distinction of being the youngest mayor in the city’s history. At the time, there were few politicians who even wanted the job, as Connecticut’s largest city had just filed for bankruptcy and was the only municipality in the state to have…