August 14: Gustave Whitehead Flies, Making Two Wrights Wrong

  Today in 1901, one of the most controversial events in aviation history took place in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Inventor Gustave Whitehead executed a half-mile-long flight in his Flying Machine No. 21 at a height of 50 feet off the ground — over two years before the Wright Brothers made their much more famous flight at…

August 12: Gidget Born in Bridgeport

  Today in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941. With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age of three….

August 7: Connecticut Grinds to an Angry Halt

  Today in 1919, Connecticut companies throughout the state were effectively shuttered as thousands of workers across a multitude of different industries joined in a massive regional strike that, within the course of a week, spread from Maine to New York and brought New England commerce to a screeching halt. Connecticut, like many other states…

July 20: Mass-Marriage-Minded “Moonies” Minister Moves Into Danbury Prison.

  Sun Myung Moon, the late 20th century Korean evangelist whose Unification Church once claimed over three million members worldwide, was a figure dogged by controversy throughout his life. Born in occupied North Korea in 1920, Moon developed strong anti-Communist views as an adult and founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea. The church’s…

July 14: Bridgeport Throws Express Train 172 a Deadly Curve

  Whenever a train approached Bridgeport’s “Jenkins Curve,” the sharpest curve of the New Haven Railroad system, safety regulations required the engineer to slow down to 30 mph. At 3:42 in the morning of July 14, 1955, however, the driver of  New Haven Railroad’s express train 172, from New York City to Boston, inexplicably continued…

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…

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: Edwin Land’s 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…