July 31: A New Era in Urban Transportation Begins Reshaping City Life

  Today in 1900, one of the first electrically powered trolley lines in the United States began service on the three-mile run between Branford and East Haven. It was a relatively short trip that launched major and permanent changes in Connecticut’s urban settlement patterns and lifestyles. The inaugural run of the Branford Electric Railway was…

July 30: Powder Ridge: The Epic Rock Festival That Never Was

  Today in 1970, a sea of nearly 30,000 concertgoers circumvented police roadblocks and hiked up Beseck Mountain in Middlefield, Connecticut with high hopes of attending a rock concert — and party — for the ages. In an attempt to ride the momentum of the wildly popular rock n’ roll megaconcert at Woodstock in 1969,…

July 29: A Determined Minister’s Swim for Justice

  In 1926, a group of eastern Connecticut investors hoping to capitalize on the state’s new car culture, expanding highway system, and Roaring 20’s prosperity, purchased a large spring-fed wetland in Andover Connecticut. They cleared trees, cut roads, and built the 550 foot-long dam that created beautiful Andover Lake. When it was completed in 1928,…

July 28: The World’s First Hamburger?

  July 28, 1900 was shaping up to be an average summer day for lunch wagon owner and German immigrant Louis Lassen, who was serving sandwiches and other hot meals to factory workers in New Haven during their lunch breaks. Suddenly, a local businessman, Gary Widmore, rushed up to Lassen’s wagon and desperately asked for…

July 27: The River That Made Us Connecticut

  Today in 1998, Vice President Al Gore officially designated the Connecticut River as an American Heritage River, one of only 14 such waterways in the nation. In his remarks, Gore recognized the central role the Connecticut played in shaping not only the environment and physical character of New England, but also the economic and…

July 25: New Haven-born Duo Tops the Charts with a Four-Time Retread

  Today in 1970, The Carpenters, the iconic pop music duo consisting of New Haven-born siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter, experienced the first major breakthrough of their musical careers. They did so with a song that had previously been recorded by a host of other performers. The pair achieved “overnight stardom” (after a decade of…

July 24: Ancient Incan City Puts Hiram Bingham III on the Map

  Hiram Bingham III was, without a doubt, one of the most colorful people to grace the annals of Connecticut history. Born in 1875, over the course of his lifetime he became an Ivy League-educated scholar of Latin America, pilot, amateur archaeologist, Yale professor, United States senator, best-selling author, and the duly elected governor of…

July 23: Abby Smith, Who Refused To Be Cowed

    Today in 1879, Abigail “Abby” Hadassah Smith, — who achieved instant national fame at age 76 because of the way she responded to the man who took her cows — passed away at her home in Glastonbury. Born into a prominent activist Glastonbury family, Smith and her four sisters were educated from birth…

July 22: Mohegan Minister Samson Occom Preaches Up An Ivy League College

  Samson Occom, one of the Mohegan tribe’s most famous members and a direct descendant of the great 17th-century tribal leader Uncas, was born in 1723 in southeastern Connecticut. As a teenager, he converted to Christianity after attending one of the many revivals held throughout Connecticut as part of the first Great Awakening. When he…

July 21: Testing the World’s First Attack Submarine — in 1776

  While Connecticut has been home to an outsized share of American innovators and creative geniuses, few of them have had as long-lasting an impact as David Bushnell, inventor of the Turtle — the world’s first combat submarine. Born in Saybrook in 1740, Bushnell decided at age 30 to sell his share of the family…

July 20: Mass-Marriage-Minded “Moonies” Minister Moves Into Danbury Prison.

  Sun Myung Moon, the late 20th century Korean evangelist whose Unification Church once claimed over three million members worldwide, was a figure dogged by controversy throughout his life. Born in occupied North Korea in 1920, Moon developed strong anti-Communist views as an adult and founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea. The church’s…