October 8: Completing the World’s Largest Stone Arch Bridge

  For most of the 19th century, travelers passing between Hartford and East Hartford crossed the Connecticut River over a wooden covered bridge, constructed in 1818 and expanded several times to include additional lanes and, eventually, room for trolleys. In 1895, the entire structure burned down in a spectacular fire that, according to newspapers, some…

September 28: The Seed That Became UConn Planted at Mansfield

    On this day in 1881, the small agricultural school that would later become the state of Connecticut’s flagship university held its first classes in a former orphanage building located in Mansfield. The Storrs Agricultural School, consisting of just three faculty members and thirteen students when it first opened, offered young men the opportunity…

July 31: All Aboard The Branford Trolley Line!

  Today in Connecticut history, one of the first electrically-powered trolley lines in the United States began service between Branford and East Haven, Connecticut. July 31, 1900 marked the inaugural run of the Branford Electric Railway, which was hailed as a more efficient and sanitary way to transport people along the Connecticut shoreline than the…

July 12: Buckminster Fuller’s Car of the Future

  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…

June 29: Governor Baldwin Signs Bill Requiring History in Schools

  Connecticut history made history on this day in 1943, when Governor Ray Baldwin signed a law setting new standards for citizenship education in Connecticut schools. The new law required that any college or grade school that received state funding — public or private — include a comprehensive study of American history and government in…

April 16: Planting The Seeds of Connecticut’s Grange Movement

  As the United States grew exponentially in size and population over the course of the 19th century, formal social groups and fraternal societies of all kinds sprang up across the country with missions that encompassed lofty themes of patriotism, industry, fellowship, and civic service.  The National Grange of Patrons of Husbandry was one such…

March 3: Connecticut’s Joseph Hawley Heads America’s First World’s Fair

  As a country, the United States of America’s first hundred years of existence were marked by incredible growth in nearly every possible way, largely defined by the forces of westward expansion, immigration, and the Industrial Revolution it the 19th century.  As the 100th anniversary of the nation’s founding in 1876 approached, a proposal came…

February 27: Before Him, Some Cars Were Unsafe At Any Speed.

  Today in 1934, consumer advocate, author, and political activist Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut.  The son of Lebanese immigrants who operated a popular restaurant in the moderately-sized Connecticut factory town, Nader displayed an insatiable appetite for reading and an incredible ability to retain information at an early age — traits that  helped…

February 21: The World’s First “Phone Book”

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development and adaptation of the telephone.  Not even two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of…

February 7: Electric Boat Begins a Century of Submarine Building

  For over 100 years, Electric Boat has been the primary producer of submarines for the United States and allied countries around the world.  From its headquarters and shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, and auxiliary shipyards located in Quonset, RI and Newport News, VA, Electric Boat has designed and built dozens of technologically-advanced submarines for the…

February 2: The World’s First Two-Sided Building

Today in 1961, the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company unveiled plans for a new corporate headquarters building in downtown Hartford, featuring a bold and revolutionary elliptical design unlike anything the city — or the world, for that matter — had seen before. Designed by the famous modernist architect Max Abramovitz, the new Phoenix Mutual Life…

January 28: The World’s First Commercial Telephone Exchange

  In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a U.S. Patent for the first practical telephone design, ushering in one of the most revolutionary devices of the late 19th century.  The earliest telephones, however, were extremely limited: they allowed for communication between two receivers, but only if they were directly connected by a single wire.  It…