April 4: Saving the Elm City’s Elm Trees – The First Time

  Today in 1909, the last in a series of “campaign documents” aimed at mobilizing citizens to save the trees that had given New Haven its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities was published in the New Haven Sunday Union. Decades before the 1936 arrival of the devastating Dutch elm disease, the “City…

March 29: Catholic Immigrants Unite to Protect & Support Each Other, & Their New Country

  Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by growing hostility toward a massive recent influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe, dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless, and a marked increase in the formation of fraternal benefit societies. In response to these societal pressures, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old Irish immigrant and…

March 20: The First U.S. Figure Skating Championships

  Today in 1914, the first “International Style” Figure Skating Championship competition in the United States was held in New Haven, Connecticut. While amateur ice skating had been a popular American pastime since the colonial days, modern figure skating — an artistic blend of dance moves and other technical feats performed on ice — was…

March 14: Eli Whitney Patents the Machine That Would Lead to Civil War

  Today in 1794, Eli Whitney, one of Connecticut’s most influential inventors, received a patent for the cotton gin, a machine that revolutionized cotton production by optimizing the laborious task of cleaning seeds from raw cotton bolls. Born in Massachusetts in 1765, Eli had exhibited both interest in, and talent at, manufacturing early in life,…

March 12: The “Great White Hurricane” Paralyzes Connecticut

  When snow started falling across the state in the early hours of March 12, 1888, Connecticut residents thought nothing of it. It wasn’t unusual to have light to moderate snowfall in early March, and the forecast for that day called for “fair weather, followed by rain.” Later that morning, amid moderate snowfall, most Connecticans…

March 7: New Haven Hides the Killers of a King

  Soon after the then-separate Connecticut and New Haven colonies were established in the 1630s, their country of origin, England, was thrown into a long and brutal civil war pitting English Puritans against King Charles I. The Parliamentarians, as the king’s enemies called themselves, were ultimately victorious, and, after taking control of the government, they…

March 2: A Great and Deadly Accident Finds a City Completely 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 28: Fire & Murder – Edward Malley’s Very Worst Winter

  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 residents out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront on Chapel Street in 1852, making home deliveries…

February 21: The World’s First Telephone Directory

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development of the telephone. Within two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of innovations — like…

February 17: A Great Hope for Hawaii Dies in Cornwall

  When 25-year-old Henry Opukahaia first set foot in the town of Cornwall, Connecticut in 1817, he carried on his shoulders the far-reaching hopes and dreams of some of Connecticut’s most powerful religious leaders. The charismatic young man, one of the first native Hawaiians to convert to Christianity, was also one of the first students…