January 18: Where Were You When the Roof Caved In?

  At 4:19am on January 18, 1978, downtown Hartford narrowly missed being the site of one of the deadliest disasters in American history when the entire roof of the Hartford Civic Center arena — covering an area of nearly 2.5 acres and weighing 1,400 tons — suddenly collapsed onto a coliseum of 10,000 empty seats….

January 17: Hartford Takes an Electrifying Gamble, and then Gambles Again.

  On January 17, 1901, the Hartford Electric Light Company (HELCO) took a major — and somewhat risky — step into the steam-powered future with the delivery of a huge, innovative, first-of-its-kind steam-turbine-powered generator. The massive 90,000-pound machine arrived on a custom-designed railroad car following a long journey from the Westinghouse Machine Company of Pittsburgh,…

January 16: Yale Graduate Students’ Grades Finally Turned In

    Today in 1996, yielding to intense and unrelenting pressure from the university administration, graduate student teachers at Yale University finally turned in final grades for the classes they had taught the previous semester — an action that ended  an incredibly tense standoff over teacher compensation and labor rights closely watched by students and…

January 15: They Got On the Wrong Train

  Today in 1878, right after hearing the famed evangelist Dwight Moody preach that “repentance is grabbing your bag and coat and getting out of the wrong train and onto the right one,” a group of revival-attending passengers in Hartford boarded a specially ordered train that took them to one of Connecticut’s deadliest train disasters….

January 14: Chain-Reaction Tragedy at the Hazardville Gunpowder Mill

The community of Hazardville, Connecticut unintentionally lived up to its name today in 1913, when an errant spark of unknown origin caused a deadly chain reaction of four massive explosions at the Hazard Powder Company. Situated on the banks of the Scantic River in the southern half of the town of Enfield, the Hazard Powder…

January 13: Charles Nelson Reilly, Actor and Hartford Circus Fire Survivor

  Born today in 1931, Charles Nelson Reilly was a Tony-Award-winning actor, comedian, and beloved TV personality best known for his appearances as a campy character actor on countless game shows, sitcoms, and movies in the 1960s through the 1980s. Later in life, he focused more on directing and voice acting, and after his death…

January 11: A Sell-Out Crowd Celebrates The New Home Team’s New Home

  Today in 1975, Hartford became home to a professional hockey team for the first time as the New England Whalers played their inaugural home game at the brand-new Hartford Civic Center. The Whalers had been organized in 1972 as one of the first teams of the World Hockey Association, an upstart professional hockey league…

January 10: Legendary Arms Maker Samuel Colt Dies at 47

  Today in 1862, Samuel Colt, a man who had endured years of  failed business ventures before finding both fame and fortune in Hartford, died suddenly  at age 47, one of the richest men in the United States..  In just 15  years,  Colt had created a  record  of innovation in marketing and  manufacturing  whose impact…

January 9: Connecticut Votes to Join the United States

  Today in 1788, the delegates at the Connecticut state convention ratified the United States Constitution by a vote of 128 to 40, making Connecticut the fifth state to join the Union. While certain states, most notably New York and Virginia, remained skeptical of the new Constitution and required lots of convincing in order to…

January 7: The Explorer Who Became Connecticut’s Governor For Exactly One Day

  It would be an understatement to say that Hiram Bingham III, Connecticut’s famous archaeologist, explorer, professor, pilot, politician, and best-selling author who likely was the inspiration for the fictional adventurer Indiana Jones, accomplished much in his lifetime. It remains an irony, however, that one of Bingham’s most well-known accomplishments was also one of the…

January 6: The Inaugural Ball That Didn’t Happen

  Long known as “the Land of Steady Habits,” Connecticut is home to scores of political and cultural traditions that span generations, including many that stretch back into the colonial era. One such tradition has been the Inaugural Ball, a ceremony filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance thrown for newly elected governors by the…

January 5: Ezra Warner Invents the Can Opener

  In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time. Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar…