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…

April 4: Angry Riots Rip Hartford After MLK Assassination

Today in 1968, the streets of Hartford, Connecticut exploded with anger following the assassination of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. Dozens of residents in Hartford’s North End took to the streets — most of them young, black men — expressing their frustration and anger by breaking storefront windows, overturning…

March 24: Joel Barlow, Hartford Wit and American Diplomat

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late 18th century, was born on this day 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…

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: Candidate 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…

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 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…

February 8: Defending the West from the Worst

  A descendant of the Joseph Wadsworth who protected his colony’s charter by hiding it in the legendary Charter Oak, Elijah Wadsworth would also be tasked with saving his people’s government. Not from a takeover, however, but from a British invasion. And not in Connecticut, but in in the part of Ohio once owned by…

February 4: Colt Arms Factory Destroyed By Suspicious 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…

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…