History

Step Back in Time

Founded in 1638, New Haven, Connecticut is rich in history of innovation and artistry. The Elm City is the first planned city in America built on a grid system and is best explored on foot through a network of pedestrian-friendly streets.

 

Dutch explorer Adriaen Block made a pitstop in New Haven while sailing through the Quinnipiac River, which he nicknamed the "River of Royenberch,” meaning “red rock,” referring to East Rock and West Rock.

1614

Dutch explorer Adriaen Block made a pitstop in New Haven while sailing through the Quinnipiac River, which he nicknamed the "River of Royenberch,” meaning “red rock,” referring to East Rock and West Rock.

1637

New Haven’s first English Puritan settlers set up camp for the winter alongside a creek.

English Puritans arrived in the New Haven harbor onboard a ship called the Hector and settled in what was then known as “Quinnipiac,” named after the Native American inhabitants of the area.

1638

English Puritans arrived in the New Haven harbor onboard a ship called the Hector and settled in what was then known as “Quinnipiac,” named after the Native American inhabitants of the area.

1638

The first Native American reservation was founded as a result of a treaty signed by the English and the Quinnipiac tribe at what is now Fort Wooster Park.

The town of Quinnipiac is officially renamed New Haven after the English maritime village.

1640

The town of Quinnipiac is officially renamed New Haven after the English maritime village.

1641

New Haven became the first “planned city in America” thanks to John Brockett’s groundbreaking nine-square plan, inspired by Roman city planner, Vetruvius’ concepts for design. The innovative grid layout was centered by the New Haven Green and nestled between two small creeks at the mouth of the harbor.

Reverend John Davenport, co-founder and religious leader of the New Haven Colony, established The Hopkins Grammar School, the fifth oldest private school in the country, named after its principal benefactor, Edward Hopkins.

1660

Reverend John Davenport, co-founder and religious leader of the New Haven Colony, established The Hopkins Grammar School, the fifth oldest private school in the country, named after its principal benefactor, Edward Hopkins.

1661

Regicide judges Edward Whalley and son-in-law William Goffe hid in what is now known as “Judge’s Cave” in West Rock State Park to escape the wrath of King Charles I. Karl Anderson's commemoratory mural "Pursuit of the Regicides" can be seen on the wall of Westville Post Office.

Local merchant and druggist Benedict Arnold demanded the keys to the New Haven powder house before leading the Governor's Foot Guard to Cambridge to join the American Revolution. Ever since, the Elm City has celebrated April 21 as “Powder House Day.”

1775

Local merchant and druggist Benedict Arnold demanded the keys to the New Haven powder house before leading the Governor's Foot Guard to Cambridge to join the American Revolution. Ever since, the Elm City has celebrated April 21 as “Powder House Day.”

1775

George Washington paid a visit to New Haven on his way to take control of the Continental Army around Boston.

The first family-chartered burial ground was sold by James Hillhouse at the Grove Street Cemetery, which took over the New Haven’s Green as a burial ground.

1777

The first family-chartered burial ground was sold by James Hillhouse at the Grove Street Cemetery, which took over the New Haven’s Green as a burial ground.

1779

On July 4, an estimated 2,000 British troops descended upon New Haven, where they burned down buildings and murdered patriot citizens – all while gobbling up the city’s plentiful supply of rum. By day two, the attack fizzled out as the drunk and demoralized British soldiers willfully stumbled back to their awaiting ships.

Roger Sherman was elected to be the first mayor of New Haven. Known as “the signer,” Sherman was the only man to sign all four of America's founding documents: Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, and U.S. Constitution.

1784

Roger Sherman was elected to be the first mayor of New Haven. Known as “the signer,” Sherman was the only man to sign all four of America's founding documents: Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, and U.S. Constitution.

1790

James Hillhouse began planting elm trees in New Haven, initiating the first citywide beautification program in the nation. Fun fact: New Haven’s longtime nickname, “The Elm City” is inspired by the city’s roots as the first city to adopt a public tree planting program in America, eventually fostering a remarkable canopy of trees, many of which were of the majestic elm variety.

Yale alumnus Eli Whitney invented the first Cotton Gin, which became a gamechanger for cotton production across the U.S.

1794

Yale alumnus Eli Whitney invented the first Cotton Gin, which became a gamechanger for cotton production across the U.S.

1810

William Lanson, a runaway slave who became a prominent entrepreneur, completed a 1,350-foot extension to New Haven’s Long Wharf, making it the longest wharf in the country at three-quarters of a mile long.

Yale graduate Noah Webster fulfilled his dream of writing the first American dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language in an effort to standardize the American language.

1828

Yale graduate Noah Webster fulfilled his dream of writing the first American dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language in an effort to standardize the American language.

1833

The world’s first mortise lock was invented by the “Blake Brothers” of New Haven, who happen to be the nephews of Eli Whitney, the inventor of the cotton gin.

The Blake Brothers continue their inventive streak with the first furniture caster, patented at their manufacturing plant in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood.

1838

The Blake Brothers continue their inventive streak with the first furniture caster, patented at their manufacturing plant in New Haven’s Westville neighborhood.

1839

Joseph Cinque led a mutiny aboard the Amistad with a group of illegally-captured slaves, who were then taken prisoner in New Haven and tried in an unprecedented U.S. Supreme Court case, wherein they were finally granted freedom and found home in Liberia.

Charles Goodyear, a New Haven-bred inventor discovered how to vulcanize rubber into a hard substance in 1843, setting the stage for the first rubber shoe and boot made by L. Candee & Company Rubber Shoes & Boots in 1844. The shoe company became the largest manufacturer of its kind, employing 1500 people at its New Haven factory.

1844

Charles Goodyear, a New Haven-bred inventor discovered how to vulcanize rubber into a hard substance in 1843, setting the stage for the first rubber shoe and boot made by L. Candee & Company Rubber Shoes & Boots in 1844. The shoe company became the largest manufacturer of its kind, employing 1500 people at its New Haven factory.

1858

Eli Whitney Blake was granted U.S. patent No. 20,542 for his “stone-crushing” machine.

Philos Blake, nephew of Eli Whitney, kept up the family streak with U.S. Patent No. 27,665: the corkscrew. Cheers!

1860

Philos Blake, nephew of Eli Whitney, kept up the family streak with U.S. Patent No. 27,665: the corkscrew. Cheers!

1860

Abraham Lincoln hunkered down in New Haven for two nights along the campaign trail. The former U.S. president spoke to 1,000 bystanders during his visit, which would be his first and last stop in the Elm City.

Strouse, Adler & Co. opened its doors as the first corset manufacturer in North America, earning New Haven the title of “the corset capital of the world.” The company, named after its founder Isaac Strouse, became the largest manufacturer in the world, employing 1,200 people – predominantly women. By the 1930s, Strouse expanded its portfolio of products to include some of the world’s first pizza boxes.

1862

Strouse, Adler & Co. opened its doors as the first corset manufacturer in North America, earning New Haven the title of “the corset capital of the world.” The company, named after its founder Isaac Strouse, became the largest manufacturer in the world, employing 1,200 people – predominantly women. By the 1930s, Strouse expanded its portfolio of products to include some of the world’s first pizza boxes.

1863

A New Haven dentist by the name of Joseph H. Smith administered nitrous oxide or laughing gas to a patient – the first dose of anesthesia in dentistry.

A quirky local industrialist named Ebenezer Beecher revolutionized the process of making matches with the first match machine, created in a factory on Blake Street in Westville.

1863

A quirky local industrialist named Ebenezer Beecher revolutionized the process of making matches with the first match machine, created in a factory on Blake Street in Westville.

1866

The first pedaled bicycle was patented by a Frenchman named Pierre Lallement, who placed New Haven at the epicenter of cycling history with his two-wheeled contraption he called a “velocipede.”

Alvin J. Fellows snagged U.S. Patent No. 79,965 with the first tape measure in a circular case.

1868

Alvin J. Fellows snagged U.S. Patent No. 79,965 with the first tape measure in a circular case.

1869

Professor John F. Weir conceived the first Fine Arts Department in America in Street Hall at Yale.

Oliver Winchester started the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which would eventually expand to become the largest employer in New Haven.

1870

Oliver Winchester started the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which would eventually expand to become the largest employer in New Haven.

1872

Paul Russo and his loved ones arrived in New Haven, staking their claim as one of the original Italian families to plant roots in the Elm City. Russo is to thank for starting the first Italian specialty store, Italian newspaper, bank, church and consulate and was the first Italian American to graduate Yale with a law degree.

Yale faced off with Eton College of England at Hamilton Park in the first international football game ever played (which was a lot more like soccer). Spoiler alert: Yale won 2-1.

1873

Yale faced off with Eton College of England at Hamilton Park in the first international football game ever played (which was a lot more like soccer). Spoiler alert: Yale won 2-1.

1876

Edward Alexander Bouchet became the first African American to earn a degreefrom Yale and the sixth person in the Western Hemisphere to earn a doctorate of physics for his thesis “Measuring Refractive Indices.” Bouchet’s father, William Francis Bouchet was the personal servant of a Yale student from South Carolina when he earned his freedom and became a porter at Yale. Eventually, he graduated from Hopkins School in 1870.

Emmaline Jones, the first female dentist, set up shop at an office on Chapel Street.

1876

Emmaline Jones, the first female dentist, set up shop at an office on Chapel Street.

1877

George Coy brought the first telephone switchboard to life using carriage bolts and teapot lids with the help of Franklin Telegraph Co. and the Atlantic & Pacific Telegraph Co.

The world's first commercial telephone exchange called The District Telephone Company debuted in New Haven with 21 subscribers, one of whom was Rev. John E. Todd, whose call was greeted by a boy named Herrick Frost with the words “Ahoy, ahoy.”

1878

The world's first commercial telephone exchange called The District Telephone Company debuted in New Haven with 21 subscribers, one of whom was Rev. John E. Todd, whose call was greeted by a boy named Herrick Frost with the words “Ahoy, ahoy.”

1878

The first telephone directory was published on February 21.

“Yale News” became the first daily college newspaper in the U.S., first published on January 28.

1878

“Yale News” became the first daily college newspaper in the U.S., first published on January 28.

1880

The first “payphone” was installed at the Yale Bank building, where calls were paid to an attendant on hand.

The first real “rulebook” for American football was established on the New Haven Green by Walter Camp, including the number of team members allowed on the field, downs, scrimmage lines and players’ positions. The first “legitimate” game of football followed shortly thereafter at Hamilton Park.

1882

The first real “rulebook” for American football was established on the New Haven Green by Walter Camp, including the number of team members allowed on the field, downs, scrimmage lines and players’ positions. The first “legitimate” game of football followed shortly thereafter at Hamilton Park.

1882

Reverend Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, in the basement of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven as a mutual benefit society to working-class and immigrant Catholics in the U.S.

The New Haven Free Public Library opened its doors (and shelves) as the sixth public library in the nation.

1887

The New Haven Free Public Library opened its doors (and shelves) as the sixth public library in the nation.

1893

Italian-born theatre magnate Sylvester Poli started the first Vaudeville theater in New Haven on Church Street.

New Haven’s oldest-running watering hole, Archie Moore’s, opened its doors (and casks) on Willow Street.

1898

New Haven’s oldest-running watering hole, Archie Moore’s, opened its doors (and casks) on Willow Street.

1900

Louis Lassen served the first “Hamburger Sandwich” from a lunch cart on Meadow Street, which would eventually evolve into a legendary eatery called Louis Lunch.

George C. Smith of Bradley Smith Co. created the first lollipop in 1908, named “Lolly Pops” after a racing horse he had placed a bet on. The idea for the sweet, circular treat was inspired by the idea of putting candy on a stick to make it easier to eat.

1903

George C. Smith of Bradley Smith Co. created the first lollipop in 1908, named “Lolly Pops” after a racing horse he had placed a bet on. The idea for the sweet, circular treat was inspired by the idea of putting candy on a stick to make it easier to eat.

1905

New Haven became home to more people of Italian descent than any other city in the U.S. per capita.

The public caught their first glimpse of an “Erecter Toy Set” introduced by New Haven native Albert C. Gilbert at the Chicago Worlds Fair, now the longest running toy line.

1911

The public caught their first glimpse of an “Erecter Toy Set” introduced by New Haven native Albert C. Gilbert at the Chicago Worlds Fair, now the longest running toy line.

1911

The Hotel Taft made its debut on Chapel Street, named for esteemed Yale grad and U.S. President William Howard Taft.

The first game of frisbie unfolded between a group of students at Yale who developed a habit of tossing around Mrs. Frisbie’s empty pie containers.

1920

The first game of frisbie unfolded between a group of students at Yale who developed a habit of tossing around Mrs. Frisbie’s empty pie containers.

1927

Polish Jewish immigrant Harry Lender started his bagel bakery on Oak Street, popularizing bagels around the country.

Dr. Frederic Francis Smith moved to New Haven and became the first African American to practice medicine in the city. In 1963, he helped organize the Freddy Fixer Parade, a community outreach event aimed at promoting environmental stewardship and unity within his Elm City neighborhood.

1932

Dr. Frederic Francis Smith moved to New Haven and became the first African American to practice medicine in the city. In 1963, he helped organize the Freddy Fixer Parade, a community outreach event aimed at promoting environmental stewardship and unity within his Elm City neighborhood.

1936

The first Pizza Box was constructed at National Folding Box Co. to help transport Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana’s steaming hot pies.

The New Haven Restaurant Institute was founded, which would later become the Culinary Institute of America. Foodies, rejoice!

1946

The New Haven Restaurant Institute was founded, which would later become the Culinary Institute of America. Foodies, rejoice!

1948

The first artificial heart pump was made by William Sewell out of an erector set. Sewell tested the device and bypassed a dog’s heart for over an hour, after which the dog miraculously recovered.

Peter Hodgeson invented Silly Putty after he noticed its extreme marketability at a local toy store on Wall Street. Once he perfected his first pile of putty in his Temple Street home, it was transferred to North Branford, where it was replicated and distributed to thousands of homes across the U.S. to become one of the world’s most successful toys.

1949

Peter Hodgeson invented Silly Putty after he noticed its extreme marketability at a local toy store on Wall Street. Once he perfected his first pile of putty in his Temple Street home, it was transferred to North Branford, where it was replicated and distributed to thousands of homes across the U.S. to become one of the world’s most successful toys.

1956

The world’s first pizza vending machine was created in New Haven by Lew Cenotti. Genius, right?