July 14: A Tale of Two Tape Measures

  On July 14, 1868, Alvin Fellows of New Haven, Connecticut received a patent for his unique spring-loaded, locking tape measure design. While Fellows certainly wasn’t the first to conceive of using demarcated strips of metal tape as a measuring tool, his unique design featured significant improvements over previous tape measures and was the first…

July 11: The Voyage of the Neptune Reaps Astonishing Wealth

On this day in 1799, the merchant ship Neptune sailed into New Haven harbor after an absence of two years and eight months with the most lucrative haul of cargo Connecticut had ever seen. Captained by New Haven native Daniel Green, the Neptune set sail in late 1797 with a crew of 45 “young, sturdy,…

July 5: New Haven Builds A New State Capitol Building.

  From 1701 through 1878, the Colony (and later State) of Connecticut had not one, but two capital cities: Hartford and New Haven. During these 177 years of of shared governance, each co-capital built a series of State Houses to host the Connecticut General Assembly, which would meet in Hartford and New Haven on alternating…

July 4: A Canal for Connecticut

  On July 4, 1825, surrounding a canal-boat-on-wheels specially created for the occasion, thousands of Connecticans  gathered at Salmon Brook Village in Granby for ground-breaking on what was then the largest transportation project in Connecticut history – the Farmington Canal. Governor Oliver Wolcott spoke briefly before digging the ceremonial first shovel of dirt, officially kicking…

June 16: The Liberty Bell Comes to Connecticut

  On this day in 1903, one of the most iconic symbols of American freedom — the Liberty Bell — arrived in Connecticut as part of a multi-state tour. Most Americans today think of the Liberty Bell as a stationary, permanent fixture of Philadelphia; a typical “look but don’t touch” museum piece viewed from behind…

May 14: Author, War Chaplain, & Yale President Timothy Dwight IV

  Today in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV, scholar, minister, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits, was born.   The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated from Yale College in 1769 and shortly thereafter decided to dedicate his life to…

May 4: Hudson River School Artist Frederic Edwin Church born in Hartford

  On this day in 1826, iconic American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church was born in Hartford, Connecticut.  The internationally-renowned artist’s Connecticut roots ran deep: He was a direct descendant of one of the original English Puritans who settled Hartford under the leadership of Thomas Hooker, and Frederic’s father was a prominent silversmith and later…

May 2: Before Mr. Spock, There Was Doctor Spock.

  Today in 1903, pediatrician Benjamin Spock, the most influential doctor of the Baby Boomer generation, was born in New Haven.  A graduate of Yale University and Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Spock is considered to be the first doctor to apply Freudian psychoanalysis to child care. In 1946, Spock published The Common…

April 24: New Haven Founded As A “New Jerusalem”

  In the 1630s, John Davenport, like many Puritan ministers preaching in 17th century London, yearned to create a “New Jerusalem” in a place free of the persecution and political pressures of England.  Arriving in the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1637, Davenport and his congregants hoped to establish a new community among their fellow Puritans,…

March 29: Knights of Columbus Incorporated in New Haven

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

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…