July 17, 2014
By ROSA CICCIO | Hartford Courant
HOW IT GOT ITS NAME: For English statesman John Hampden.
ORIGINS: Settled in 1638, part of land purchased from the Indians for the establishment of New Haven Colony. It was incorporated as a separate town in 1786.
SLEEPING GIANT: Hamden is home to Sleeping Giant State Park, which got its name from a ridge that resembles a sleeping man. Indian legend has it that the giant was Hobbomock, an ill-tempered spirit bent on causing trouble. During one of his tantrums, he stomped his foot so hard that it caused the course of the Connecticut River to change. To prevent further damage, the good spirit Keitan cast a spell causing Hobbomock to sleep forever.
LITERARY GIANT: Author and playwright Thornton Wilder made Hamden his home from 1946 until his death in 1975. Wilder is the only American author to win Pulitzers for both fiction ("The Bridge of San Luis Rey") and drama ("Our Town"). His play "The Matchmaker," which he wrote while living in Hamden, would later be adapted as the hit musical "Hello, Dolly."
NOTABLE RESIDENTS: Actor Ernest Borgnine; industrialist Eli Whitney; historian C. Vann Woodward and journalist Linda Greenhouse, both winners of the Pulitzer Prize; Nobel Laureate Sidney Altman; Poet Laureate Donald Hall; sports figures Scott Burrell (basketball), Henry Gruber (baseball), and Jonathan Quick (hockey).
SOURCES: The Hartford Courant; Connecticut Place Names; connecticuthistory.org; hamden.com; ct.gov/deep