The Port of New Haven lies on the northern shores of Long Island Sound in the State of Connecticut, USA. Resting at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River, it is about 20 nautical miles northeast of Connecticut's Port of Bridgeport, some 116 nautical miles southwest of the Port of Providence, Rhode Island, and about 120 kilometers northeast of the Port of New York. An early leader in industrialization in the United States, many inventions were created in the Port of New Haven including the mass production technique invented by Eli Whitney, Goodyear's vulcanized rubber, the Colt repeating revolver, and the Winchester repeating rifle. In 2000, over 123 thousand people lived in the Port of New Haven, and over 542 thousand lived in the New Haven-Meriden metropolitan area.
Today, the Port of New Haven's economy is diverse, based on shipping, manufacturing, and education. It was one of the first cities on the East Coast to undertake wholesale urban renewal; however, the Port of New Haven still struggles with inner-city problems like crime, drugs, and high unemployment. Despite this, the Port of New Haven is known for its outstanding educational and cultural assets. It is home to Yale University, which was founded in 1701. Today, the Port of New Haven's economy is largely based on services in healthcare and education. Yale is the largest employer in the Port of New Haven, and other large employers include St. Raphael Hospital, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Smilow Cancer Hospital, Southern Connecticut State University, the Knights of Columbus headquarters, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, and United Illuminating.
The Quinnipiac peoples lived in the Port of New Haven area before Europeans arrived. The indigenous peoples lived in villages surrounding the harbor and lived on fishing and farming.
In 1614, Dutch explorer Adriaen Block visited the Port of New Haven area, and Dutch traders established a small trading system for beaver pelts with the locals. Trade was inconsistent, however, and the Dutch did not have a permanent settlement in the Port of New Haven area.
In 1638, five hundred Puritans followed Reverend John Davenport and English merchant Theophilus Eaton to the Port of New Haven from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They sought both religious independence and commercial progress offered by the Port of New Haven harbor. The local Quinnipiacs sold their land to the settlers in exchange for protection from their neighboring enemies, the Pequots.
By 1640, the Port of New Haven had a nine square grid plan and a theocratic government that did not allow other churches to be established in the town. The area to the north of the Port of New Haven continued to be home to the Quinnipiacs until 1678. The new settlement became the base for the New Haven Colony, which was separate from the Connecticut Colony based in Hartford.
In 1646, the Port of New Haven sent a shipload of goods to England, but the ship never arrived. This was an economic disaster for the colony. Development of the Port of New Haven slowed dramatically at the same time New Amsterdam (later New York) and Boston rose in prominence as trade centers.
In 1660, John Davenport's hopes were realized with the founding of Hopkins School in the Port of New Haven. In 1661, three of the judges who had signed the death warrant for Charles I of England sought refuge from British troops in the Port of New Haven. The Port of New Haven joined the Connecticut Colony in 1664 under political pressure from England, supposedly as punishment for hiding the three judges. Some of the colonists left the Port of New Haven and established Newark in Jew Jersey in their effort to create a new theocracy.
Made co-capital of Connecticut in 1701, the Port of New Haven held that status until 1873. In 1716, the Port of New Haven became a center for education when the Collegiate School was relocated there from Old Saybrook. In 1718, the school's name was changed to Yale College when merchant Elihu Yale made a sizeable donation.
Residents of the Port of New Haven fought with the British for more than a century. They were British allies in the French and Indian War. When the American Revolution was beginning, many local Port of New Haven residents hoped the conflict could be resolved without fighting. However, in 1775, the Port of New Haven's Second Company of the Governor's Foot Guard picked up arms against the British. They broke into the powder house under the command of Captain Benedict Arnold to take weapons and started a three-day march to Cambridge, Massachusetts. New Haven militiamen escorted George Washington from New Haven to Cambridge. In 1777 when about 3500 people lived in the Port of New Haven, British General William Tryon raided the town but did not burn it (unlike other nearby settlements), preserving its colonial atmosphere.
In 1784, the Port of New Haven was incorporated as a city, and Roger Sherman became its first mayor. Sherman was a signer of the Constitution and the author of the "Connecticut Compromise" that proposed the bicameral legislature that eventually formed the US Senate and House of Representatives.
In the late 1700s, the Port of New Haven's fortunes increased with industrial activity and inventions. Eli Whitney, a Yale graduate, developed the cotton gin and established a gun manufacturing factory (today's Eli Whitney Museum) in the Port of New Haven. Whitney's plant manufactured the Colt automatic revolver. Simeon North developed the country's first milling machine. Clock-making and brass hardware factories arose.
In 1839, the Port of New Haven became the site of one of the most famous events of the early anti-slavery movement. Mutineering Mendi tribesmen were tried for their rebellion as slaves being carried on the Spanish slave ship, Amistad.
The economy of the Port of New Haven benefited from the American Civil War as the city's industrial goods were purchased by the Union Army. After the war, the population doubled by 1900s. Most of the new arrivals were Italian-American immigrants, although Jewish immigrants were numerous.
The Port of New Haven continued to grow during both World Wars, and this era of in-migration was dominated from Puerto Ricans and African Americans from the southern states. Population of the Port of New Haven hit its peak after World War II because this city of some 4.4 hectares was restricted by surrounding municipalities and growing suburbs. In the 1950s, like in many other cities in the United States, middle-class workers began to leave the Port of New Haven.
In the 1950s, the Port of New Haven undertook one of the first major urban renewal projects in the United States. Sections of downtown Port of New Haven were destroyed and rebuilt with hotels, office towers, and shopping centers. New highways bisected the city as well.
In 1970, the Port of New Haven was the site for the largest trial in the State's history when Bobby Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, and his compatriots were tried for murder. The two trials attracted huge demonstrations to the Port of New Haven by supporters of the Black Panthers that continued for many weeks. Protestors gathered on the Port of New Haven Green to hear prominent speakers of the day like Benjamin Spock, Jerry Rubin, and Abbie Hoffman. The demonstrators teased police and were tear-gassed in return, but for the most part, the events were peaceful.
The decades of the 1960s through the early 1990s were a time of economic and population decline for the Port of New Haven and industries closed and people moved away. In the middle 1990s, the Port of New Haven began to recover, although poverty and crime are still problems in some central neighborhoods. In the early 21st Century, new restaurants, bars, and shops have increased in the Port of New Haven's downtown area. National chain stores have moved in.