November 25: María Colón Sánchez, “La Madrina” of Hartford

  María Colón Sánchez arrived in Hartford at the age of 28 in 1954, one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who moved to Connecticut in search of better economic opportunity during the mid 20th century.  Within a few years, she had saved up enough money to open a convenience store, Maria’s News Stand, on Albany…

November 18: Nathaniel Palmer Discovers Antarctica

  Born in Stonington, Connecticut in 1799, Nathaniel Brown Palmer, like so many other young men from Stonington, first set sail at an early age, working as a teenage deckhand on American ships running through the British naval blockade during the War of 1812.  After the war, Palmer joined scores of Connecticut sailors who sought…

November 14: Paul Sperry Invents the Boat Shoe

  Today in 1939, New Haven-born sailor-turned-shoemaker Paul Sperry received a patent for one of the most famous and enduring pieces of American footwear: the Sperry Top-Sider, or “boat shoe.” Born in 1895, Sperry’s life revolved around the sea; growing up along the Connecticut coast, he developed a lifelong love for sailing at an early…

November 9: New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery

  In the 1790s, a deadly epidemic of yellow fever swept throughout the eastern United States, hitting densely-populated urban centers like New Haven especially hard.  As fever-related fatalities multiplied, the burying grounds located behind the churches on the New Haven green — which had been in operation for nearly 150 years at that point —…

November 5: Ella Grasso, First Female Governor

  Born to Italian immigrants in 1919, Ella Rosa Giovanna Oliva Tambussi grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood of first and second-generation Americans in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  Her parents, determined to invest in a better future for their daughter, saved up enough money to send Ella to the prestigious Chaffee School in Windsor.  Afterwards, she…

October 30: Yung Wing, Chinese-American Educational Pioneer

  Born in 1828 to a poor farming family in Macau, Yung Wing was sent to attend foreign missionary schools in southern China at a young age, in hopes that learning English would lead young Wing to a more prosperous career path.  In 1847, when Yung was 19 years old, he accompanied his former headmaster…

October 13: The Modern-Day “Lolly Pop” is Born in New Haven

  From world-famous pizza to what is likely the world’s first hamburger, the city of New Haven is home to a remarkable amount of American food history.   Among the city’s lesser-known — but no less notable — food-related firsts was the invention of the modern-day lollipop. In 1908, George P. Smith of New Haven’s Bradley…

September 7: ESPN Goes Live from Bristol

  On this day in 1979, at 7:00pm Eastern time, the first cable channel devoted exclusively to sports and entertainment went live from its studio in Bristol, Connecticut. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) was the dream of Bill Rasmussen, a former communications director for the New England (later Hartford) Whalers, who spent the better…

September 2: High-Flying Hijinks Over the Connecticut River

  Silas Markham Brooks, Connecticut’s first documented hot air balloonist, was one of many native Connecticans who pursued a colorful — if unpredictable — career as a consummate showman in the 19th century.  Born in Plymouth in 1824, Brooks worked in a local clock-making factory before being hired by P. T. Barnum to help manufacture…

September 1: Industrial Genius Elisha K. Root Dies in Hartford

  The man at the root of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford on this day in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius revolutionized axe production in Collinsville and the Colt Firearms Company in Hartford an worldwide icon of precision manufacturing. Born in western Massachusetts in 1808, Root became…

August 22: Hartford Hosts the First Presidential Car Ride

  Theodore Roosevelt was no stranger to Connecticut; his mother and second wife were Connecticans and his sister lived in Farmington for most of her adult life.  While Roosevelt’s several visits to the Connecticut to visit his family and friends often attracted plenty of press, his visit of August 22, 1902 was memorable for not…