Connecticut in a nutshell
Wedged between New York City and Boston, Connecticut may be small, but it delivers on quality:
inns and restaurants, museums and galleries, shopping and spas. The seashore is a delight, dotted with Colonial villages set on beaches and coves. Inland, the countryside is easy on the eye, with a landscape that is almost English in places.
But, there are also vibrant cities and major attractions for couples as well as for families.
Although 48th in size among the 50 states, this beautiful little New England state is large in history and culture.
Particularly worth a visit are its waterfront towns overlooking Long Island Sound and various rivers. All have handsome old houses, built by sea captains and merchants as early as the 17th century; each also has its own unique claim to fame, ranging from Stamford’s Presbyterian church, built in the shape of a fish, Bridgeport’s museum to circus tycoon P T Barnum – once the town’s mayor – and Old Lyme’s American Impressionist-rich Florence Griswold Museum, to New Haven’s prestigious Yale University, Essex’s fascinating Connecticut River Museum, and Groton’s USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.
The state capital, Hartford – also known as the world’s insurance capital – encompasses a jewel of a State Capitol, one of America’s oldest and best art museums (the Wadsworth Atheneum) and, in its suburbs, the neighboring homes of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe (whose Uncle Tom’s Cabin sounded the battle cry for the abolition of slavery).
Other sites of note range from the beautiful Litchfield Hills, home to the rich and famous, to a state park displaying dinosaur tracks laid down 200 million years ago and America’s largest Native American museum, funded by one the world’s largest casinos, Foxwoods, both on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation.
The picturesque seaport town of Mystic, once the centre for whalers and for clipper-ship construction, is now home to the Mystic Seaport living history museum where you can watch rope makers and ship builders in action and climb aboard the Charles W Morgan, the only wooden whaling ship left in the USA, and the Amistad slave ship, reconstructed for the Stephen Spielberg film about the 1839 slave rebellion on board the ship.
Nearby is the interesting Mystic Aquarium, a base for an underwater exploration program which located the wreck of the Titanic, among other things.
Connecticut is a land of ‘firsts’. At the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, you can see a model of the first submarine, launched nearby in 1775.
In Groton, you can go aboard the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, while Litchfield is home to America’s first law school.
As you drive into Hartford, watch for the blue dome of the Colt Armory, a reminder that local inventor Sam Colt’s ‘45’ was the ‘gun that won the West’.
In New Haven, watch Yale University students spin a Frisbee across the Green. Legend has it that Ma Frisbie’s empty apple pie plates provided entertainment and sport back in 1920: yet another local invention!
State Data & Facts
Connecticut – State Abbr.: CT
– Statehood Ranking: 5
4,845 sqaremiles (12,549 qkm)
– Land Area Ranking: 48
(2000; Census every 10 years)
The Constitution State
Qui Transtulit Sustinet (==He Who Transplanted Still Sustains)
725 m / 2,379 ft (Mount Frissell)
Dayligh Saving Time: yes
The Charter Oak
Connecticut’s Native American History
Connecticut’s name comes from Quinnehtukut, which means “beside the long tidal river, ” the Connecticut River. When colonists arrived, about 20,00 Native Americans from several tribes inhabited the state. Their heritage is reflected in place names statewide and several cultural centers
Day-Lewis Museum, Farmington (Greater Hartford): Yale-owned Native American archeology museum housed in last of Tunxis Indian homes, a post-and-beam building that houses artifacts found on site.
Indian Burial Grounds, Norwich (Mystic & More): Resting place of the great Mohican chief, Uncas, who gave land for settlement of Norwich.
Indian & Colonial Research Center, Old Mystic (Mystic &More): Research library, artifacts, rare photographs.
Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington (Litchfield Hills): Algonkin artifacts and art, furnished longhouse, outdoor simulated archeological site, 17th-century Algonkin village, native plant trails.
Somers Mountain Indian Museum, Somers (North Central): Native American artifacts form across North America. Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum, Uncasville (Mystic & More): Eastern Woodlands Indian life and lore exhibits, crafts displays of Northern Plains and Southwestern tribes.
LANDMARK: Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Ledyard: World’s pre-eminent cultural center and museum celebrating Native American history, culture art. Library sets new world standard for Native American collections. Web: http://www.pequotmuseum.org/