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Hartford, Connecticut

HistoryEdit Main articles: History of Hartford, Connecticut and Timeline of Hartford, Connecticut 1877 map of Hartford Various tribes, all part of the loose Algonquin confederation, lived in or around present-day Hartford. The area was referred to as Suckiaug', meaning "Black Fertile River-Enhanced Earth, good for planting." These included the Podunks, mostly east of the Connecticut River; the Poquonocks, north and west of Hartford; the Massacoes, in the Simsbury area; the Tunxis tribe, in West Hartford and Farmington; the Wangunks, to the south; and theSaukiog in Hartford itself.[8] Colonial HartfordEdit The first Europeans known to have explored the area were the Dutch, under Adriaen Block, who sailed up the Connecticut in 1614. Dutch fur traders from New Amsterdam returned in 1623 with a mission to establish a trading post and fortify the area for the Dutch West India Company. The original site was located on the south bank of the Park River in the present-day Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood. This fort was called Fort Hoop, or the “House of Hope.” In 1633, Jacob Van Curler formally bought the land around Fort Hoop from thePequot chief for a small sum. It was home to perhaps a couple families and a few dozen soldiers. The area today is known as Dutch Point, and the name of the Dutch fort, "House of Hope," is reflected in the name of Huyshope Avenue.[9] The fort was abandoned by 1654, but its neighborhood in Hartford is still known as Dutch Point.[10] The Dutch outpost, and the of the tiny contingent of Dutch soldiers that were stationed there, did little to check the English migration. The Dutch soon realized they very vastly outnumbered. The House of Hope remained an outpost, but it was steadily swallowed up by waves of English settlers. In 1650, when Peter Stuyvesant met with English representatives to negotiate a "permanent" boundary between the Dutch and English colonies, the line they agreed on was more than 50 miles (80 km) west of the original settlement. The English began to arrive 1637, settling upstream from Fort Hoop near the present-day Downtown and Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhoods.[11] Pastor Thomas Hooker and Governor John Haynes led 100 settlers with 130 head of cattle in a trek from Newtown (now Cambridge, Massachusetts) in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and started their settlement just north of the Dutch fort.[12] The settlement was originally called Newtown, but was changed to Hartford in 1637 to honor the English town of Hertford the explorer also created the town of Windsor (in 1633).[13] The fledgling colony along the Connecticut River had issues with the authority by which it was to be governed because it was outside of the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's charter. Therefore, Hooker delivered a sermon that inspired the writing of theFundamental Orders of Connecticut, a document (ratified January 14, 1639) investing the people with the authority to govern, rather than ceding such authority to a higher power. Historians suggest that Hooker's conception of self-rule embodied in the Fundamental Orders went on to inspire the Connecticut Constitution, and ultimately the U.S. Constitution. Today, one of Connecticut's nicknames is the "Constitution State."[14] The original settlement area contained the site of The Charter Oak. The Charter Oak was an unusually old white oak tree in which, according to legend, colonists hid the Connecticut's Royal Charter of 1662 to protect it from confiscation by an English governor-general. Thus the grand, stately tree came to symbolize the power of nature as a defender of freedom throughout Connecticut. In fact, the state adopted the image as the emblem of the Connecticut state quarter. The Charter Oak Monument is located at the corner of Charter Oak Place, a historic street, and Charter Oak Avenue.[15] 19th centuryEdit Throughout the 19th century, Hartford’s residential population, economic productivity, cultural influence, and concentration of political power continued to grow. The advance of the Industrial Revolution in Hartford in the mid-1800s made this city by late century one of the wealthiest per capita in United States.[16] Industrialization and the Colt LegacyEdit Colt's Armory from an 1857 engraving viewed from the East Perhaps the greatest influence on Hartford's development in the 100 years after independence was Samuel Colt, an industrialist and inventor, and his wife Elizabeth Colt. Although Colt is often considered the father of the Connecticut River Valley industrial revolution, there were in fact a handful of small outfits already in operation by the time Colt purchased a large tract of land in the area in the 1840s. In 1836, the Connecticut-born gun manufacturer received a U.S. patent for a revolver mechanism that enabled a gun to be fired multiple times without reloading. Sales were initially slow and Colt's business ventures struggled. Then in 1846, with the Mexican-American War under way, the U.S. government ordered 1,000 Colt revolvers. In 1848, Colt was able to start again with a new business of his own, and 1855, he converted it into a corporation under the name of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company. Settled just south of downtown Hartford the original factory is situated modern-day Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood.[17] With business booming, Colt entered an aggressive and expansionary phase and by 1855, Colt opened what was the world’s largest private armament factory, the Colt Armory, in which he employed advanced manufacturing techniques such as interchangeable parts and an organized production line. By 1856, the company could produce 150 weapons per day. The Civil War led to a surge in demand, and Colt supplied the Union Army. Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company operated at full capacity and employed over 1,000 people in its Hartford factory. By that time, Colt had become one of the wealthiest men in America was presiding over his enterprise from Armsmear, an ornate Italianatemanor built near the armory in 1857. Upon his death in 1862, Colt was worth over $15 million ($380 million by 2015 standards).[18] Colt's methods were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, and his successes secured Hartford's place as a major 19th century manufacturing center. It is estimated that in its first 25 years of manufacturing, Colt's company produced over 400,000 revolvers. His use of interchangeable parts helped him become one of the first to exploit the assembly line.[19] Moreover, his innovative use of art, celebrity endorsements and corporate gifts to promote his wares made him a pioneer in the fields of advertising, product placement and mass marketing. His business practices were also innovative, involving not just a shrewd use of patents to protect his products, but also new developments in marketing and business organization to create a highly successful business which long outlived him. Elizabeth Colt inherited a controlling interest in her late husband's manufacturing company following his death in 1862. At the time, Colt firearms were producing an estimated 1/996th of the entire gross national product of the United States. Despite living in an age where she couldn’t vote, Elizabeth steered the company until 1901 (with her brotherRichard Jarvis as president), becoming one of the most prominent female industrialists in America. Together the two transitioned the company from the end of the American Civil War through the early 20th century seeing the evolution from percussion revolvers to cartridge revolvers to semiautomatic pistols and machineguns.[20] In addition, the Colts left an indelible imprint on Hartford's built environment. Inspired by what he had seen during a trip to London in 1851, Colt embarked upon one of the boldest real estate development campaigns in Hartford's history. His intention to build an industrial community to house his workers adjacent to the Colt Armory. By 1856, it was a city within a city, where workers of many nationalities and religions worked, lived and recreated alongside one another. While not the largest, the most prominent or the most tightly controlled of America's 19th century company towns, Coltsville was among the country's first, and easily the most advanced of its time. Colt's complex also included the largest armory in the world, wharf and ferry facilities on the Connecticut River.[21] After a major fire destroyed the original armory in 1864, Colt's widow had the original armory rebuilt including the original structure's most dramatic feature: the blue onion dome with gold starts, topped by a gold orb and a rampant colt, the original symbol of Colt Manufacturing Company. Visible to commuters on I-91, the Colt Armory stands a monument to Hartford's first "celebrity industrialist," and the once mighty empire he created.[22] Church of the Good Shepherd Hartford CT Elizabeth Colt dedicated her final decades to philanthropy and public works. Following her son's death, she commissioned the Church of the Good Shepherd in 1896 as a monument to his life. Built in High Victorian Gothic style, architectural features include a variety of gun parts, such as bullet molds, gunsights and cylinders. This unusual characteristic earns the building the title of likely being the only church in the world with a gun motif.[23] With no remaining children, Elizabeth willed her extensive collection of rare art to theWadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, one of the oldest art galleries in America. The Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt Memorial Wing was the first American museum wing to bear the name of a female patron.[24] When Elizabeth Colt died in 1904, she willed the majority of her estate, Armsmear, to the City of Hartford for use as a public park. Today, the 105 acres (42 ha) Colt Park services the community with a number of athletic fields, playgrounds, a swimming pool, playground, skating rink and Dillon Stadium.[25] Rise of a Major Manufacturing CenterEdit Around 1850, Hartford native Samuel Colt perfected the precision manufacturing process that enabled the mass production of thousands of his revolvers with interchangeable parts. Over the next several decades, a variety of industries adopted and adapted these techniques and Hartford became the center of production for a wide array of products—including firearms by Colt, Richard Gatling and John Browning; Weed sewing machines; Royal and Underwood typewriters; Columbia bicycles; and even Pope automobiles.[26] Just three years after Colt's first factory opened, another weapons manufacturer set up shop in 1852 at a nearby site situated along the now-buried Park River. Located in the present-day neighborhood of Frog Hollow, the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Companyfactory heralded the beginning of the area's transformation from marshy farmland into a major industrial zone. The road leading from town to the factory was called Rifle Lane; the name was later changed to College Street and then Capitol Avenue.[27] A century earlier, mills had located along the Park River because of the water power, but by the 1850s water power was approaching obsolescence. Sharps located there specifically to take advantage of the railroad line that had been constructed alongside the river in 1838. After the Sharps Rifle Company failed in 1870, the Weed Sewing Machine Company took over its factory. The invention of a new type sewing machine was an evolution of mass production after the principles of interchangeability were applied to clocks and guns. The Weed Company played a major role in making Hartford one of three machine tool centers in New England and even outranked the Colt Armory in nearby Coltsville in size, if not fame.[27] Weed eventually would become the birthplace of both the bicycle and automobile industries in Hartford. Inspired by a British-made, high-wheel bicycle, or velocipede, he saw at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition industrialist Albert Pope bought patent rights for bicycle production in the United States. Wanting to contract out his first order, however, Pope approached George Fairfield of Hartford of Weed Sewing Machine Company, who produced Pope's first run of bicycles in 1878.[28] Bicycles proved to be a huge commercial success and production in the Weed factory expanded, with Weed making every part but the tires, and by 1890, demand for bicycles overshadowed the failing sewing machine market. That year, Pope bought the Weed factory, took over as its president, and renamed it the Pope Manufacturing Company. The bicycle boom was short-lived, peaking near the turn of the century when more and more consumers craved individual automobile travel, and Pope's company suffered financially from over-production amidst falling demand. In an effort to save his business, Pope opened a Motor Carriage Department and turned out electric carriages, beginning with the "Mark III" in 1897. Pope's venture might have made Hartford the capital of the automobile industry were it not for the ascendency of Henry Ford and a series of pitfalls and patent struggles that outlived Pope himself.[29] In 1876 Hartford Machine Screw was granted a charter "for the purpose of manufacturing screws, hardware and machinery of every variety." The basis for its incorporation was the epochal invention of the first single-spindle automatic screw machine. For its next four years the new firm occupied one of Weed's buildings, milling thousands of screws daily on over 50 machines. Its president was the same George Fairfield who ran Weed and its superintendent was Christopher Spencer, arguably Connecticut's most versatile inventor. Soon Hartford Machine Screw outgrew its quarters and built a new factory adjacent to Weed, where it would remain until 1948. Political TurmoilEdit On December 15, 1814, the Hartford Convention was called to order in Hartford. Delegations from the five New England states, (Maine was still part of Massachusetts at that time) were sent to Hartford to discuss New England's possible secession from the United States. State Street in 1914 During the early 19th century, the Hartford area was a center of abolitionist activity. The most famous abolitionist family was the Beechers. The Reverend Lyman Beecher was an important Congregational minister known for his anti-slavery sermons. His daughter,Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote the famous Uncle Tom's Cabin, while her brother, the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, was a noted clergyman who vehemently opposed slavery and supported the temperance movement and women's suffrage. Beecher Stowe's sister,Isabella Beecher Hooker, was a leading member of the women's rights movement. Bulkeley Bridge, circa 1906-1916 In 1860, Hartford was the site of the first "Wide Awakes," abolitionist supporters ofAbraham Lincoln. These supporters organized torch-light parades that were both political and social events, often including fireworks and music, in celebration of Lincoln's visit to the city. This type of event caught on and eventually became a staple of mid-to-late-19th century campaigning. 20th centuryEdit On the week of April 12, 1909, the Connecticut River reached a then-record flood stage of 24½ feet above the low water mark flooding the city and doing great damage.[30] On July 6, 1944, Hartford was the scene of one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States. The fire, which occurred at a performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, became known as the Hartford Circus Fire. Old Post Office and Custom House next to the Old State House (left) in 1903. Completed in 1882, the building was demolished in 1934. After World War II, many residents of Puerto Rico moved to Hartford and even today Puerto Rican flags can be found on cars and buildings all over the city. Former Hartford MayorEddie Pérez was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Hartford in 1969, when he was 12 years old. Starting in the late 1950s, as the suburbs ringing Hartford began to grow and flourish, the capital city began a long decline. Insurance giant Connecticut General (now CIGNA) moved to a new, modern campus in the suburb of Bloomfield. Constitution Plaza, at first hailed as a model of urban renewal, gradually became a concrete office park. Once-flourishing department stores such as Brown Thomson, Sage-Allen, and G. Fox & Co. all shut down as suburban malls such as Westfarms and Buckland Hills grew in popularity. In 1997, the city lost its professional hockey franchise, the Hartford Whalers, to Raleigh, North Carolina despite an increase in season ticket sales and an offer of a new arena from the state. Currently a developer from Newton, Massachusetts who is also the city's largest property owner is working with the city to bring an NHL team back to Hartford and house them in a new largely publicly funded stadium.[31] Hartford experienced problems as the population shrank 11 percent during the 1990s. OnlyFlint, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Saint Louis and Baltimore experienced larger population losses during the decade. However, the population has increased since the 2000 Census.[32] In 1987, Carrie Saxon Perry was elected mayor of Hartford, the first female African-American mayor of a major American city.[33]

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