February 28: Edward Malley’s Department Store Disaster

  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 denizens out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront of his own on Chapel Street in 1852,…

February 4: Colt Firearms Factory Destroyed By Fire

    On the morning of February 4, 1864, just after 8:00am, the loud, sharp, incessant tones of a steam whistle pierced the air in Hartford, alerting city residents to danger.  As men and women rushed toward the source of the noise in the city’s south end, they were shocked to find the massive East…

August 11: A New Haven Piano Maker Patents the Automatic Fire Sprinkler System

  As the Industrial Revolution fueled the growth of American cities at an unprecedented rate during the 19th century, the risk of urban fires increased in turn — especially in an era that preceded building and fire codes.  In response to the increase in fire-related damage claims, insurance rates for inner-city businesses skyrocketed in the…

May 27: Oldest Operating Volunteer Fire Department in New England

  From the earliest days of Connecticut history, fire posed one of the greatest mortal dangers to Connecticut residents — especially to the English settlers whose homes, barns, fences, and other structures were made of timber and often clustered closely together.  In the 17th and early 18th centuries, before the advent of portable water pumps,…