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Town Information

Settlers arrived in the Town of Hamden in 1638 as part of the New Haven community, which was the first European settlement in the New World. The town was incorporated more than a century later, in 1786, when two different settlements withdrew from New Haven. Hamden, named for English statesman John Hampden, had a population of 1,400 and became known as the "Land of the Sleeping Giant". In its early years, Hamden was composed of several small independent communities, including Mt. Carmel, Highwood and Whitneyville.

Along with New Haven, Hamden became an important manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. In 1798, four years after he started manufacturing his cotton gin in new Haven, Eli Whitney began making arms for the U.S. Government at a mill site in Hamden. It was here that Whitney invented the milling machine and introduced the concept of interchangeable parts, ushering in the era of mass production.

Whitneyville, the community that sprang up alongside the armory, was filled with stone houses the inventor built for his workers. These are believed to be the first employer-provided homes in U.S. history. In 1806, the dam Eli Whitney had built at the mill site was enlarged, creating beautiful Lake whitney. The first truss bridge in the United States was erected over the Mill River in Whitneyville in 1823, though it has since been replaced.

The Farmington Canal traversed all of Hamden from 1825 to 1848. It started in New Haven and stretched 80 miles to the north, but was abandoned with the advent of the railroad. Some of the remaining locks and piers are still visible today, and a popular hiking trail follows the old route north to Cheshire. Many historic structures from Hamden's early years still remain along the Mill River.

Immigrants from Italy, Germany and Ireland flocked to the area in the 18th and 19th centuries to work in the sawmill, quarries and factories. Today, Hamden's economy is largely service-based, with many of its residents employed in healthcare, retail and education.

For specific data and demographics about Hamden, please visit Town of Hamden Demographics.


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