May 13: The Automobile’s Electric Future Debuts — in 1897

  Today in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage. It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a top speed…

May 12: She Won More Oscars Than Any Other Actor.

  Meryl Streep won three. So did Daniel Day Lewis, Frances McDormand and Jack Nicholson. But though she never attended a prize show to accept any of them in person, this actor from Hartford, born today in 1907, won four Oscars for her film perfor or , more than any other actor. Katharine Hepburn, who…

May 11: Connecticut’s 1796 State House: A Symbol for the New Nation

  In the early years of the American Republic, Connecticut held itself up to the nation as a model for creating the kind of stable, citizen-selected-and-run government that was central to the success of the American project. Thanks to the Royal Charter of 1662, which had given Connecticut virtual independence 114 years before the Declaration…

May 6: The Hartford Whalers Leave Connecticut.

  May 6, 1997 marks a day that will live in infamy in the eyes of Connecticut sports fans. On that day, Peter Karmanos, owner of the Hartford Whalers, announced he was moving the NHL team to North Carolina and renaming them the Carolina Hurricanes. Connecticut has lacked a major professional sports franchise ever since….

April 30: New England Patriots’ Trick Play: Pass Before the First Kickoff

  In 1998, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots pro football team, was seeking a new home for his franchise, which had outgrown their small and outdated stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. After failing to secure stadium deals in South Boston and then Rhode Island, Kraft set his sights on Connecticut. His quest for…

April 21: Rumors of His Death Were NOT Greatly Exaggerated

  Today in 1910, Mark Twain, one of America’s most famous authors and Connecticut’s most famous residents, died at his home in Redding. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he grew up in Missouri and traveled extensively, working as a newspaper reporter and fiction writer, until settling with his family in 1871 in the wealthy “Nook Farm”…

April 17: The Robber Baron Who Saved the U.S. Economy — Twice

  Today in 1837, John Pierpont Morgan, one of the most famous businessmen and financiers in American history, was born in Hartford. Born into a wealthy and influential Connecticut family, J. P. Morgan was groomed to be a successful financier from an early age. He quickly moved up the ranks of his father’s banking companies…

April 16: Frederick Douglass & Social Media in Hartford, 1864

    Carte-de-visite photographs were the hot social media of the mid-nineteenth century. These small portrait photographs, mounted on cards, were some of the first such images to be commercially reproduced, and they created a craze for collectible photographs. People collected carte-de-visite portraits of family, friends and celebrities and then mounted them in photograph albums….

April 7: Thousands Rally to Show Support for WWI

  Today in 1917, citizens of Hartford thronged the streets in a “mass patriotic meeting” to show support for America’s formal entry into World War I. The Great War had been raging in Europe for three years, but the United States had been extremely reluctant to join the fight against the Germans. American resistance to…

March 24: Joel Barlow, The Poet and Diplomat Who Died Far From Home

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late-18th century, was born today  in 1754 in the western Connecticut town of Redding. As a member of the Yale class of 1778, the bright young man found himself surrounded by an impressive crowd of…

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 5: Abraham Lincoln “Wakes Up” Hartford

  Today in 1860, sectional tensions over slavery and its expansion into the country’s newly formed states and territories was nearing the breaking point. It was a crucial election year, and members of the nation’s political parties were actively trying to decide who would be their standard bearers in the upcoming presidential campaign. For the…