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In honor of Connecticut Magazine’s 50th anniversary year, throughout 2021 State Historian Walter Woodward is highlighting some of the moments that have helped shaped our state throughout its history.

June 28, 1983

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Debris lies below the Mianus River bridge June 28, 1983, in Greenwich, after a 100-foot section of the northbound bridge gave way, sending vehicles 70 feet into the river below and killing three people.

At 1:30 a.m., a 100-foot span of Interstate 95 in Greenwich collapsed into the Mianus RIver. Three people died and another three were grievously injured when a car and two tractor-trailers went over the edge. The collapse was caused by the failure of pins that held the bridge deck in place, and led to major changes in state inspection policies. 

June 23, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London allowed New London to seize more than 100 properties through eminent domain for the purposes of economic development. Susette Kelo was one of 14 holdouts who had refused to sell her home for a major expansion by Pfizer pharmaceuticals. The SCOTUS decision made resistance futile. The city force-acquired the properties. Then Pfizer decided to cancel its expansion. 

June 11, 1974

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The Connecticut Hospice in Branford.

The Connecticut Commission on Hospitals and Health Care approved the construction of the country’s first hospice facility, “The Connecticut Hospice” in Branford. The move fulfilled nurse Florence Wald’s lifelong dream of providing comprehensive, compassionate care for patients with terminal illnesses. The $2.6 million facility transformed American health care.

June 1, 1842

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The Wadsworth Atheneum

Gov. Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum as the first public art museum in the U.S. The Hartford museum and its iconic, castle-like building was the lifelong dream of well-connected benefactor Daniel Wadsworth. His acquisition and gift of paintings by artists such as John Trumbull, Frederick Cole, and Edwin Church provided the foundation for his institution devoted to study and appreciation of arts, literature and natural science. 

June 18, 1933

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Elizabeth Park

More than 15,000 people, some from as far away as Oregon and California, lined up in a rainstorm to see the thousands of roses blooming in Hartford’s Elizabeth Park. The Hartford/West Hartford landmark, with more than 800 varieties of roses and thousands of plants, became the country’s first public rose garden when established by Charles M. Pond in honor of his wife Elizabeth in 1897.

June 14, 1952

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President Harry Truman lays the keel of the USS Nautilus.

President Harry S. Truman came to Groton to lay the keel of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine. Named after the fictional submarine of Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Truman hailed the event as “the Birth of the Atomic Era Navy.” 

June 16, 1903

Just after 6 p.m., the Liberty Bell arrived in Stamford, its first stop on a whistle-stop tour of Connecticut.  The Bell drew thousands — in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Plainfield — to see the iconic symbol of freedom aboard its specially constructed open railroad car. Then it continued on to Boston where it was featured at the 128th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. 

Today in Connecticut History with Walter Woodward can be heard daily on Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR). Subscribe to stories at TodayinCTHistory.com.

 This article appears in the June 2021 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.