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 Cotton Gin

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

March 13: The New Haven Black Panther Trials

  On this day in 1970, the stage was set for one of the most polarizing trials of the modern Civil Rights era as Bobby Seale, national chairman of the militant black power group Black Panthers, arrived in Connecticut to stand trial for ordering the murder of a New Haven man who had been killed…

March 7: English Regicides Flee to New Haven

  Not long after the then-separate Connecticut and New Haven colonies were first established in the 1630s, their mother country of England was thrown into a long and brutal civil war between supporters and opponents of King Charles I.  The enemies of the King, calling themselves Parliamentarians, were primarily English Puritans who, after taking control…

March 2: A Deadly Accident Leads to Hartford’s First Hospital

  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: Edward Malley’s Department Store Disaster

  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 denizens out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront of his own on Chapel Street in 1852,…

February 21: The World’s First “Phone Book”

  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 and adaptation of the telephone.  Not even two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of…

February 19: Roger Sherman Baldwin, Governor and Abolitionist

On this day in 1863, in the midst of a bloody Civil War that pitted Americans against each other over questions of slavery and freedom, scores of Connecticans mourned the passing of Roger Sherman Baldwin, one of Connecticut’s most ardent abolitionist lawyers and accomplished politicians. Baldwin was born in 1793 to a well-to-do Connecticut family,…

February 17: Henry Opukahaia and Connecticut’s Foreign Mission School

  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 one of the first students to…

February 16: A National Statesman and the First Mayor of New Haven

  In the midst of the American Revolution, one of the most chaotic and turbulent times in the nation’s history, it seems fitting that one of the most even-tempered and widely trusted statesmen would hail from the Land of Steady Habits.  That statesman was Roger Sherman, and even though he was a reluctant public speaker,…

February 11: Charles Dickens visits New Haven

  On the evening of February 7, 1842, three words spread throughout the streets of New Haven like wildfire, causing crowds of people to rush toward the city’s downtown Toutine Hotel: “Dickens has come!”  Just before 8:00pm that night, Charles Dickens had arrived at the city’s Union Station, traveling by rail from Hartford.  The man…

February 5: World War I’s Most Decorated Pet

Today in 1918, an unlikely war hero in the shape of a small, short-tailed puppy arrived at the front lines in France alongside the 102d Regiment of the Yankee Division, a unit composed of mostly Connecticut soldiers who had been recruited in New Haven.  That puppy, named “Stubby” by his comrades on account of his…