October 31: Trick or Treat? The Legend of the Charter Oak

  One of the most important symbols in Connecticut history is the Charter Oak – the giant, gnarled oak tree that represents Connecticut’s “steady habit” of self-rule and resistance against tyranny. Depictions and namesakes of the Charter Oak are plentiful throughout the state: schools, streets, social organizations, parks, Connecticut’s state quarter, and even a brewery…

September 7: A Game-Changer in Both Sports and Television

  Today in 1979, at 7:00pm Eastern time, the first cable channel devoted exclusively to sports and entertainment went live from its studio in Bristol, Connecticut. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) was the dream of Bill Rasmussen, a former communications director for the New England (later Hartford) Whalers, who spent the better part…

September 5: Celebrity Dash — Stars in Cars Bagged on the Merritt Parkway

  Every day, tens of thousands of commuters from Connecticut and neighboring states use the Merritt Parkway as an alternative to the often-congested Interstate 95 highway in an attempt get to their destinations faster — and every day, a number of them are ticketed for going a little too fast. Connecticut passed America’s very first speed…

August 21: The Death of the Charter Oak

  In the early morning hours of August 21, 1856, the Charter Oak — the ancient living symbol of Connecticut’s most cherished values and icon of its core identity — crashed  to a ground-shaking death amid the fierce winds and blinding rain of an overnight summer storm. The giant white oak had stood atop a…

August 12: Gidget Born in Bridgeport

  Today in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941. With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age of three….

August 4: Connecticut Broadcasting’s Ban the Beatles Boycott

  “She loves you, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” . . . . Well, maybe not. On August 4, 1966, several Connecticut pop music radio stations joined a nationwide boycott and refused to play Beatles music in response to perceived anti-Christian remarks made by John Lennon. The offending interview actually took place the preceding March, when journalist…

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 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 13: P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Performance Wasn’t on a Stage

  Today in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent. Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz veteran…

July 6: The Hartford Circus Fire

  What began as an innocent day at the circus ended in one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history, today in 1944. In early July of that year, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had set up one of their largest “Big Top” tents in a field in Hartford’s North End…

June 17: Windsor’s “Murder Factory” Takes It’s Last Breath On Broadway

  Today in 1944, a Broadway comedy based on one of Connecticut’s most infamous true crime tales wrapped up a wildly successful, multiyear New York run after over 1,400 shows. The unlikely inspiration for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” written by Joseph Kesserling in 1939, was the story of Amy Archer-Gilligan, a twice-widowed caretaker who ran…