Hamden is a town in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. The town's nickname is "The Land of the Sleeping Giant." The population was 60,960 at the 2010 census. Hamden is a suburb of the city of New Haven.
The town of Hamden ranked #53 in the CNN Money list of "America's best small cities" in 2012. In 2008, Fortune Magazine and CNN Money picked Hamden as #33 on their "Best Place to Live and Launch" list, citing Hamden's great blend of urban and suburban lifestyles. The article also pointed out Hamden's exceptional education system as well as its "New England Charm".
Originally settled by Puritans as part of the town of New Haven, Hamden was purchased by William Christopher Reilly and the Reverend John Davenport in 1638 from the local Quinnipiack Native American tribe. It remained a part of New Haven until 1786 when 1,400 local residents incorporated the area as a separate town, naming it after the English statesman John Hampden.
Largely developed as a nodal collection of village-like settlements (which remain distinct today), including Mount Carmel (home to Quinnipiac University), Whitneyville, Spring Glen, West Woods, and Highwood, Hamden has a long-standing industrial history. In 1798, four years after Eli Whitney began manufacturing the cotton gin in New Haven, he made arms for the U.S. government at a mill site in Hamden, where a waterfall provided a good source of power. At that site, Whitney introduced the modern era of mass production with the concept of interchangeable parts.
The major thoroughfare through Hamden is named Whitney Avenue in honor of Eli Whitney, and it runs past Whitney's old factory, now the Eli Whitney Museum.
Whitney constructed stone houses for his employees in the nearby area, which is still referred to as Whitneyville; this is believed to be the first example of employer-provided homes in U.S. history. In 1806, the dam that Eli Whitney built at the mill site was enlarged to create a reservoir, Lake Whitney. The first truss bridge in the United States was erected nearby over the Mill River in Whitneyville in 1823, but has since been replaced.
The Farmington Canal, which ships traveled from New Haven northward, passed through Hamden between 1825 and 1848 until it was supplanted by railroad travel. The canal right-of-way has become, in recent years, a popular walking and bicycling trail, passing by some of the well-preserved locks of the canal, as well as some of Hamden's oldest sites. Before its use as a walking and bicycling trail, many local residents rode their motocross bikes on the Farmington Canal.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Hamden received a steady influx of immigrants, most notably from Italy and Ireland. To this day, a large part of Greater New Haven's Italian-American community resides in Hamden.
During the post-war period, Hamden underwent significant suburban development. Much of the southern section of town is urbanized and is difficult to distinguish from neighboring New Haven. The northern section of town, however, retains a more rural character, and has the distinct neighborhood of Mount Carmel. This area of town is the location of the unique Sleeping Giant hill formation that is the source of the town's nickname.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 33.3 square miles (86 km2), of which 32.8 square miles (85 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2), or 1.62%, is water. The town features the Mill River, which runs from the northern part of town, is dammed to form Lake Whitney, and flows from there to Long Island Sound. The town also has the Quinnipiac River and Lake Wintergreen, as well as numerous small streams.
The Town Hall at the center of Hamden has a distinctive appearance. The rotunda includes commemorative stained glass windows. Across the street is Freedom Park, which contains a fountain with concrete stepping stones leading to a sign that pleads for peace in several different languages. The Town recently completed new facilities for the police and fire departments in the newly renovated Town Hall.
Hamden was host to the Ghost Parking Lot, a notable roadside public art installation located in front of the Hamden Plaza shopping center in Hamden's commercial district on Dixwell Avenue. Erected in 1978, it consisted of 15 car hulks, specially treated and encased in asphalt. Although featured in over 100 art books, the attraction was torn down in 2003 due to the excessive cost of restoration and repair.
Hamden is bordered by six other towns:
Hamden is governed by a mayor-council form of government, with a 15-member legislative council. Six councilors are elected at large while the other nine are elected by district. Town elections are held biennially during odd years in November. Other elected positions in the town government are the Town Clerk and members of the Board of Education. Positions in the various town boards and commissions are generally appointed by the Mayor subject to approval by the Legislative Council.
Curt Balzano Leng became mayor in 2015 in a special election. Past mayors of Hamden are:
John DeNicola Sr. was the town's last first selectman before becoming the town’s first mayor, in November 1965.
The main industries in the town are retail trade, computer products, manufacture of wire and cable, concrete, pump mixer products, fabricated metals, construction and business services. Business services account for 49.4% of employment in the town, with retail trade accounting for 22.8%, and manufacturing accounting for 9.6%. The top four major employers are the Town government and school district, Quinnipiac University, Harborside Health Care, and Area Cooperative Education Services (ACES).
Shaw's Supermarket was one of the top five major employers, but the Hamden Shaw's was sold to ShopRite in a sale of Shaw's Connecticut stores announced on February 13, 2010. The Shaw's supermarket has been shut down and the new ShopRite store has opened.
Hamden is a residential suburb for New Haven, with more residents commuting to work in New Haven than residents working in Hamden.
The Wilbur Cross Parkway runs through the center of the town serving as a connection to Hartford to the north and the New York metropolitan area to the south. The town is connected to Interstate 91 via Connecticut Route 40, a spur expressway to the Mount Carmel section of town. The main route from the town center to New Haven passing through the commercial areas of Hamden is Dixwell Avenue (Route 10). Another route to New Haven via the Spring Glen and Whitneyville residential neighborhoods is Whitney Avenue.
Public transportation is provided by Connecticut Transit New Haven. The main bus routes in the town are the Dixwell Avenue (D) and the Whitney Avenue (J) routes. Other secondary routes serving the town are the State Street (M) and Winchester Avenue (O) bus routes.
Eli Whitney Technical High School is located in Hamden.
Hamden is home to several private and religious schools, including:
Within the town limits, there are 16 banks, six lodging facilities, and 29 day care facilities. There are no hospitals in the town, although it is close to the major hospitals in New Haven. In 2004, the crime rate was 2,084 per 100,000 residents, lower than the statewide average of 2,981 per 100,000 residents. The town library has 166,358 volumes (as of 2001).
Electricity in the town is provided by the United Illuminating company; natural gas is provided by the Southern Connecticut Gas company; the water provider is the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority; Cable TV is provided by Comcast of New Haven.
There are several parks and museums located in Hamden. Hamden Town Center Park hosts fireworks, free concerts, outdoor movies, and other seasonal festivals. Other parks include the Eli Whitney Museum in Whitneyville, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, parts of West Rock Ridge State Park (including Lake Wintergreen) and East Rock Park (including the Pardee Rose Garden), and the Sleeping Giant State Park. The Farmington Canal Trail runs through the town. Two blue-blazed hiking trails, the Quinnipiac Trail and the Regicides Trail, also run through the town.
The Jonathan Dickerman House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in Mount Carmel. Hamden also has an all-volunteer orchestra, the Hamden Symphony Orchestra, providing concerts throughout the year.
As of the census of 2010, there were 60,690 people, 23,727 households, and 14,300 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,867.3 people per square mile (721.0/km²). There were 25,114 housing units at an average density of 769.2 per square mile (297.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 68.45% White, 20.19% African American, 0.15% Native American, 5.47% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 3.00% from other races, and 2.72% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.74% of the population.
There were 23,727 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.7% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the town, the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 20, 10.6% from 20 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.4 years. For every 100 females there were 82.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $66,695, and the median income for a family was $88,613. The per capita income for the town was $34,596. About 3.8% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.
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