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 30: Helicopter Pioneer Igor Sikorsky Arrives in United States

One of Connecticut’s greatest immigrant success stories began today in 1919 when Russian-born Igor Sikorsky first arrived on American shores. While Sikorsky is best known as the inventor of the world’s first practical helicopter and the founder of the Sikorsky Aircraft manufacturing company headquartered in Stratford, he first made a name for himself as a…

March 28: The Oyster Industry Comes Out Of Its Shell.

  By the time the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries first assigned a resident scientist to study Connecticut’s shellfish industry in the 1920s, Connecticut residents had been harvesting oysters and clams from the waters of Long Island Sound for hundreds of years. Created in the late 19th century, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries’ mission was…

March 27: Dam Bursts in Staffordville Cause Cascading Chaos

  During the second half of the 19th century, as more and more mills and factories popped up along the banks of the Willimantic River’s northern branch in eastern Connecticut, a number of factory owners banded together to form the Stafford (or Staffordville) Reservoir Company with the aim of regulating the flow of water that…

March 26: The First State to Make the Minimum Wage Over $10 an Hour

  On March 26, 2014, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass legislation setting  its minimum wage above $10 an hour. The new law mandated slight increases, rolled out over three years, that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by the start of 2017, increasing the paychecks of…

March 21: Rolling Taxpayer Anger at Great Recession Bailout Bonuses.

  In March of 2009, politicians and citizens on both sides of the political aisle became irate after learning that Wilton-based financial giant AIG – which had just received more than $200 billion in taxpayer-funded federal bailouts after posting the largest single-quarter loss in U.S. corporate history – was planning to give nearly $220 million…

March 11: She Taught a Man’s World How to Build a Business

  When Beatrice Fox Auerbach became president of Hartford’s G. Fox & Company in 1938, in an era where there were scarcely any female retail executives in the United States, neither she nor any of the popular department store’s board members expected her to remain in the position for very long. But instead of stepping…

March 3: Connecticut’s Joseph Hawley Helps America Strut Her Stuff

  The United States of America’s first century was marked by incredible growth in nearly every possible way, propelled by the forces of westward expansion, immigration, and the Industrial Revolution. As the 100th anniversary of the nation’s 1776 founding approached, a proposal came before Congress to celebrate America’s emergence as one of the world’s great…

March 2: A Great and Deadly Accident Finds a City Unprepared

  Around 2:00pm on March 2, 1854, a deafening blast rocked the Dutch Point neighborhood of Hartford following the explosion of a massive steam boiler at the Fales & Gray Car Works factory. The force of the explosion blew out the eight-inch-thick brick walls encasing the factory’s boiler room, causing the roof to cave in…

February 28: Fire & Murder – Edward Malley’s Very Worst Winter

  February 1882 was not a very good month for New Haven businessman Edward Malley. The ambitious son of Irish immigrants, Malley had worked his way up from selling assorted dry goods to Elm City residents out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront on Chapel Street in 1852, making home deliveries…

February 26: The Rise and Fall of Manchester’s Silk Industry

  Of all the many factories and diverse industries that sprang up across Connecticut during the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century, one of the longest lasting was the silk-spinning industry, which coalesced around the Cheney Brothers silk mills in Manchester. Opening their first silk-processing mill in 1838, the Cheney brothers sought to capitalize…

February 25: Samuel Colt Finally Gets His Shot at Success.

  Today in 1836, Hartford inventor Samuel Colt — after being expelled from school, sailing the seas, and touring as a showman demonstrating the unusual effects of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” –received a U.S. patent for the first revolving chamber percussion pistol. This was a dramatically new type of firearm which would revolutionize the…