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The area was briefly visited by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614.Dutch traders set up a small trading system of beaver pelts with the local inhabitants, but trade was sporadic and the Dutch did not settle permanently in the area.New Haven was founded in 1638 by English Puritans, and a year later eight streets were laid out in a four-by-four grid, creating what is commonly known as the "Nine Square Plan".The central common block is the New Haven Green, a 16-acre (6 ha) square, and the center of Downtown New Haven.Yale president Ezra Stiles recounted in his diary that while he moved furniture in anticipation of battle, he still couldn't quite believe the revolution had begun.
New Haven has since billed itself as the "Cultural Capital of Connecticut" for its supply of established theaters, museums, and music venues. Before Europeans arrived, the New Haven area was the home of the Quinnipiac tribe of Native Americans, who lived in villages around the harbor and subsisted off local fisheries and the farming of maize.
On July 5, 1779, 2,600 loyalists and British regulars under General William Tryon, governor of New York, landed in New Haven Harbor and raided the 3,500-person town.
A militia of Yale students had been preparing for battle, and former Yale president and Yale Divinity School professor Naphtali Daggett rode out to confront the Redcoats.
By 1640, "Qunnipiac's" theocratic government and nine-square grid plan were in place, and the town was renamed Newhaven, with 'haven' meaning harbor or port.
(However, the area to the north remained Quinnipiac until 1678, when it was renamed Hamden.) The settlement became the headquarters of the New Haven Colony, distinct from the Connecticut Colony previously established to the north centering on Hartford.It is the second-largest city in Connecticut (after Bridgeport), with a population of 129,779 people as of the 2010 United States Census.