An 1834 painting of the Old State House, downtown Hartford.

ORIGINS: Settled in 1633 as a Dutch trading post called House of Hope. Founded in 1635 by a group of settlers from Massachusetts led by the Rev. Thomas Hooker.

NAME: Originally called Newtown, it was named Hartford in 1637 after Hertford, England.

DID YOU KNOW? Hartford is home to the country's oldest state house (1796), the oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum (1844), and the oldest insurance company, known today as the Hartford Financial Services Group.

FAMOUS RESIDENTS: Samuel Colt, father of the modern revolver; Horace Wells, who pioneered the use of anesthesia; the authors Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe and the actress Katharine Hepburn.


In 1614, Dutch mariner Adriaen Block, who was employed by the Dutch West India Co., sailed up what is now called the Connecticut River and explored an area the Indians called ``Suckiaug.'' But it was not until 1633 that another Dutchman, Jacob van Curler, bought the tract from the Pequots and established a fort and trading post, called ``House of Hope,'' at the present-day Dutch Point.

The English established a settlement at the site in 1635, calling it Newtown, and the next year, the Rev. Thomas Hooker led a group from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to settle there. The English, in 1637, renamed their settlement Hartford, after Hertford in Hertfordshire, England.

The city of Hartford, which became the capital of Connecticut, was not incorporated until 1784. The city and town were consolidated in 1896.

Hartford's form of government consists of a strong mayor as chief executive and a court of common council. One of Hartford's leading industries, insurance, started locally in the 18th century, when ship captains and merchants agreed to share risks and profits on ships' cargoes. The city's oldest active insurance concern, The Hartford, was founded in 1810. In addition, Hartford was a leading manufacturer of guns and was once known as a manufacturing center for such products as typewriters and bicycles. About 124,000 people live within Hartford's 18.4 square miles.

Among the city's landmarks are: The Old State House, Travelers Tower, Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Bushnell Park, the state Capitol, the library and Legislative Office Building, the Governor's Residence, City Hall, First Congregational Church & Ancient Burying Ground, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Trinity College, Nook Farm, the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses and the Connecticut Historical Society. The Connecticut Convention Center opened in June on the banks of the Connecticut River.

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