(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Summer 2021
People are always looking for a good place to live. Before the English settlers came, Native Americans made camps in different places according to the season. In the summer they lived along rivers or the shoreline to fish and farm. In the winter they moved inland to their hunting grounds.
The English settlers had a different way of living. They built permanent towns. They built their first towns near rivers and deep harbors for their ships. This type of community is called a maritime village. Essex, Stonington Borough, and Mystic are maritime villages.
The English were looking for fertile farmland, too. They moved inland. This type of community is called a rural or country town. Lebanon, Colebrook, and Woodstock are rural towns.
After the American Revolution, Connecticut became a state of the United States of America. It needed a state capital. It already had two colonial capitals: New Haven and Hartford. The government moved back and forth between the two cities. In 1875 Hartford became the capital city.
As travel improved, communities grew along stagecoach lines, canals, and railroads. They became transportation centers. Farmers brought produce there to send to market. Litchfield was at the crossroads of three major stagecoach routes. Farmington was on the Farmington Canal. Many products were shipped to and through these transportation centers.
Towns with fast-moving streams became mill towns. The streams powered the mill machinery. Mill towns had housing for millworkers and shops. New Britain, Waterbury, Norwich, and Bridgeport started as mill towns. They became large cities. Factories there produced many different products. Smaller communities can be mill towns, too. Manchester, Willimantic, and Taftville are mill towns.
What about the Native Americans? When the English settlers came, many Native Americans were pushed off their land. It was a hard struggle to keep their communities intact. Today Connecticut is home to five tribes. Each governs its own land. Uncasville and Mashantucket are two examples of Native American communities. They are very special places with important histories.
Learn about the kind of place you live in by visiting Where I Live: Connecticut at WhereILiveCT.org.
Educators: Find lesson plans for each type of community, plus four more special places, at WhereILiveCT.org/curriculum/.
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