NEW HAVEN FIRSTS
First Hamburger Sandwich was cooked at Louis' Lunch in New Haven in 1900. Louis' descendants are still cooking them the same way today, on the original grill—garnished with tomato and onion only. Don't even think of asking for ketchup!
First Pizza in Connecticut. In 1900 Frank Pepe brought his family's recipe for tomato pie with him when he emigrated from Italy. From this basic recipe, he developed the pizza we all know and love today. Visitors to Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napolitano on Wooster Street can still enjoy pizza baked in the original brick ovens.
First Lollipop. George C. Smith of Bradley-Smith Candy Company, New Haven, decided in 1892 to put sticks into balls of candy he was making.
First Planned City. New Haven became America’s first planned city in 1638 when it was laid out in nine squares. The New Haven Green is the central square and was designed as the marketplace, public square and burying ground.
First Medical Diploma. Daniel Turner was the first man in America to receive a medical diploma, which was conferred by Yale College on September 11, 1729. His honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine was a reward for valuable monetary contributions to Yale. Mr. Turner never practiced medicine.
First Cotton Gin. In 1794, Yale College Graduate Eli Whitney of Hamden invented the cotton gin, a device that made cotton economically profitable by eliminating thousands of hours required to pick the seeds out by hand. Whitney's original cotton gin is on display at the New Haven Museum & Historical Society. Whitney was the founder of "Whitneyville" in Hamden, the site of his factory village.
First Agricultural Station. The first agricultural station in America was established in New Haven in 1875 by the state of Connecticut for the purpose of developing sprays to protect crops against insects.
First Mortised Locks. In 1835 pioneers in the manufacture of hardware for homes and factories, the Blake Brothers of Westville made the first mortised locks for doors and chests, replacing the old box lock.
First Casters. We can also thank the Blake Brothers of Westville for the ability to roll our beds away. The Blake patent issued in 1838 described the new product as a “mode of constructing casters and applying them to bedsteads.”
First Sulfur Matches. In 1835, Thomas Sanford, with the aid of Edward Beecher, of New Haven, made the first sulfur matches, replacing the use of the tinderbox. They also invented the match-making machinery, which made matches accessible to everyone.
First Electric Trains. On July 24, 1907, the first New Haven Railroad electrified passenger train traveled from Grand Central to New Rochelle, New York. The initial electrification covered all four tracks to Stamford, Connecticut, and in 1913-1914 was extended to New Haven, Connecticut.
First Elevator. Frank J. Sprague of New Haven devised the first electric elevator. It was hydraulic and operated by a means of a vertical plunger traveling up and down a cylinder, pushing and lowering the car above it. The plunger was moved by liquid under pressure. His inventions made possible the electric street railway, and his Sprague control system is still used in the New York subway.
First Frisbee. Legend says that in 1920, with the cry "Frisbee," Yale students hurled Mrs. Frisbies's pie plates across the New Haven Green and a national pastime was born.
First College Football Game. The first intercollegiate football game occurred on November 16, 1872 between Yale University and Columbia University at Hamilton Park in New Haven. The American game began as a virtual free-for-all between players using a round ball, no holds barred. Over several years, Walter Camp, then Yale football captain, refined the game. Recognized as the "Father of American Football", he sired the game as it is played in the United States, the game that evolved from rugby as it was played in England.
First Football Dummy. In the fall of 1889 All-American football player Amos Alonzo Stagg improvised with a gymnasium mat as a tackling dummy for football practice. It is now used as standard equipment throughout the country.
First Enclosed Football Field. The Yale Bowl, built in 1914, was the first enclosed field (not covered, encircled). It currently seats 64,246. The first game played there was Yale vs. Harvard on November 21, 1914.
First Intercollegiate Football League Championship (Rugby). In 1876 Yale, Columbia, Harvard and Princeton played the first league football championship at Yale. The standings were Yale 2, Princeton 2, Harvard 1, and Columbia 0.
First Animal Mascot. Handsome Dan, a bulldog owned by Andrew B. Graves, Class of 1892, becomes Yale’s mascot, the first animal to hold such a position in American sports.
First Film of Football Game. On November 15, 1902, for the first time in history, cameraman Thomas Alva Edison uses a movie camera to record a football game; Yale beat Princeton 12-5.
First Vulcanized Rubber. In 1839, Charles Goodyear of New Haven discovered the process of vulcanizing rubber. Until then rubber was ill smelling, sticky with heat, brittle with cold and easily dissolved by oil or acids. Later the world's first and largest rubber footwear plant was built in New Haven.
First Rubber Overshoes. Taking full advantage of Goodyear's vulcanized rubber, L. Candee & Co. was the first to manufacture rubber overshoes and boots in 1843.
First Automatic Revolver. The automatic revolver was invented and first made by Colonel Colt at the Whitney Armory, New Haven, in 1836. After the Seminole and Mexican wars its superiority was undeniable and he began manufacturing it in quantity, making the word "Colt" synonymous with "revolver." Samuel Colt sub-contracted the work on his guns to Eli Whitney's Hamden factory.
First Lattice Truss Bridge. Ithiel Town of New Haven invented the first pure lattice truss bridge built in America in 1820. He solved the serious problem of constructing a safe, inexpensive railroad bridge, and one that would support a longer span than conventional bridges. He received $1 per foot royalty on all truss bridges built in this country.
First Telephone Exchange. The first telephone exchange became operational in New Haven. The manager of a New Haven telegraph office, George C. Coy was inspired by Alexander Graham Bell's demonstration of the telephone in New Haven to organize his own telephone business The exchange went into service in January 1878 with 21 subscribers.
First Telephone Book. The first telephone book was published in New Haven, by the New Haven District Telephone Company in February 1878. It was one page long and held fifty names - no numbers were listed as the operator would connect you. The page was divided into four heading residential, professional, miscellaneous, and essential service listings.
Other Telephone Firsts. The Southern New England Telephone Company in New Haven was the first major phone company to: Complete conversion to the dial system (1953) Provide all customers with direct distance dialing (1962) Offer Totalphone service (1971) Replace traditional cord switchboards with electronic consoles (1974) Serve all customers with Zero Express Dialing (1974)
First University Art Museum. The Yale University Art Gallery is the oldest college art museum in the United States. The gallery was founded in 1832, when patriot-artist John Trumbull donated to Yale College more than 100 paintings of the American Revolution. The gallery's main building was among the very first designed by Louis Kahn, who taught architecture at Yale, and was built in 1953. The Gallery’s encyclopedic collections number more than 100,000 objects ranging in date from ancient times to the present day.
First Erector Set. Alfred Carlton Gilbert, a graduate of Yale Medical School, introduced the world to the first Erector Set in 1913 at the New York and Chicago Toy Fair. Gilbert invented the Erector Set in 1911, inspired by railroad girders. The construction toy was introduced two years later. The A. C. Gilbert Company, founded in 1909 in New Haven, was once one of the largest toy companies in the world. It is best known for introducing the Erector Set to the marketplace, but also produced magic sets, microscopes and a line of HO scale trains, which were primarily marketed under the brand name Gilbert HO. Many of Gilbert’s original toy sets can be seen at the Eli Whitney Museum in Hamden.
First Planetarium. The first U.S. planetarium (or orrery) to represent the motion of celestial bodies was constructed in 1743 by Thomas Clap, who became President of Yale College in 1739.
First Propagation. The first propagation of fruits was in 1775 by Benjamin Douglas of New Haven.
First Geography Book. In 1784 Meigs, Bowen and Dana, New Haven, published the first geography book in the U.S. Jedidiah Morse's 214-page book is called; Geography Made Easy: Being a Short, But Comprehensive System of that very Useful and Agreeable Science, Illustrated with Newly Constructed Maps, Adapted to the Capacities and Understanding of Children, Calculated Particularly for the Use and Improvement of Schools in the United States.
First Steamboat. In 1787, Connecticut native, John Fitch built a 450-ft. boat, equipped it with a steam engine and sailed it on Long Island Sound for 40 miles at 4 mph. 17 years later, innovator Robert Fulton, with better financial backing, would make Fitch's vision of steamboats plying American waterways a reality.
First Medical Publication. Cases & Observations, the first medical transactions published in the New World, was published in 1788 by the New Haven Medical Society. This publication afforded medical information to physicians, surgeons and hospitals and led to the first plan whereby doctors kept an actual case record of patients.
First Assembly Line. Eli Whitney developed the American System of manufacturing in 1799, using the ideas of division of labor and of engineering tolerance, to create assemblies from parts in a repeatable manner.
First Political History Book. In 1828 the first political history of the U.S. was written by Timothy Pitkin and published in New Haven.
First Science Journal. The American Journal of Science was founded in 1830 by Benjamin Silliman of New Haven. Silliman is said to have been the most prominent and influential scientific man in America during the first half of the 19th century.
First Artificial Ice. In 1849, Alexander Catlin Twining, a New Haven engineer invented the first practical method of producing ice in considerable quantities by artificial means.
First Stone Crusher. In 1851 Eli Whitney Blake, the "father of America's highways," was issued a patent for a steam-powered stone crusher. At the time there were fewer than 20 miles of paved roads in the U.S. This invention also gave railroad roadbeds stone foundations.
First Corkscrew. New Havener Philios P. Blake was granted a patent in 1860 for his corkscrew. It was a good idea, but the extensive use of hardwood stoppers was a severe handicap until cork came into greater use, whereupon the corkscrew became a universal gadget.
First Corset. New Havener Isaac Strouse founded the U.S. corset industry in 1860. He was the first to make a sewn corset with steel stays. Two years later Max Adler joined forces with Strouse and the two formed the Strouse Adler Co.
First Spring Tape Measure. Alvin Fellows of New Haven was granted a patent in 1868 for his tape measure in a circular case with a lock to hold the tape at the desired point.
Fire Sprinkler System. Henry Parmelee of New Haven, invented a fire sprinkler system consisting of a perforated head containing a valve which was held closed by a low fusing material. He was granted a patent on the first practical automatic sprinkler in 1874.
First Automobile Self-Starter. In 1900 autos carried 72 lbs. of batteries for starting purposes until New Havener John Petrie, famous creator of magic tricks and stage effects, invented the self-starter, attaching a magneto to the flywheel to create a spark.
First Wireless Radio. In 1904 Lee De Forest, while at Yale University, built the first wireless radio (station and mast) in the country. His audion tube became an essential component of not only commercial radio, but the telephone, television, radar, and computer.
First Fat-Soluble Substance (Vitamin A). In 1913 vitamin A was discovered and chemically produced by Thomas B. Osborne at the Connecticut Agricultural Station in New Haven.
First Hybrid Corn. In 1916 the first higher-yielding lines of hybrid corn was developed in America at the Connecticut Agricultural Station in New Haven.
First Acidophilus Milk. In 1920 Leo Frederick Rettger and Henry Chaplin of Yale University developed acidophilus milk (milk fermented using bacterial cultures, used to treat digestive disorders). Fairlea Farms Co. in Orange produced the product under the supervision of Rettger.
First American Submarine. Yale student David Bushnell invented the first submarine in 1776 during his senior year at Yale University. Although tiny and able to travel underwater, it was not very effective in its 1776 attack against a British vessel even though it carried an explosive charge.
First Modern Submarine. Milford is the home of Simon Lake, inventor of the modern submarine. The original submarine is on display at Milford Landing.
Oldest Trolley Line. The Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven holds the distinction for being the oldest suburban trolley line in continuous operation in the United States. The museum's trolley collection is on the National Register of Historic Places.
First Clinical use of Penicillin. In 1942 Yale New Haven Hospital was the location for the first successful clinical use of penicillin in the United States.
Figure Skating Championship. The first National Figure Skating Championship was held on March 20, 1914 at the New Haven Arena under the rules of the Skating Union of America. The four events were men's and women's championship, pair skating and waltz.
First American to Medal in Canoeing. At the 1972 Munich Olympics, white-water canoeing was included as an event. The only American to medal in this sport and the only American to ever medal in white-water canoeing was 19-year-old Jamie McEwan, of Yale, who won the bronze.
First Rowing Competitions. Yale was the first college to feature competition in rowing in 1844. The competitions were between classes and students.
Intercollegiate Trap Shooting Association. The first meet of the Intercollegiate Trapshooting Association was held at the New Haven Shooting club on May 7, 1898 using clay pigeons. Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia and Cornell formed the Association that year.
First National Medical Association Conferences. Dr. Jonathan Knight, a faculty member of the original Yale Medical School was the president of the first two National Medical Association Conferences in 1846 and 1847. These conferences resulted in the founding of the American Medical Association, and some consider Dr. Knight the "Father of the AMA."
First Use of Anesthesia. Trips to the dentist would be a real nightmare if Joseph Smith hadn't advertised painless dentistry. The first use of anesthesia at the dentist's office was so popular that in one month Smith pulled more than 1,000 molars.
First Ever Use of Chemotherapy as a Cancer Treatment. The results of studies on nitrogen mustard compounds, a chemical warfare agent, at Yale University led to the development of chemotherapy. The first human application in 1942 at Yale New Haven Hospital yielded a temporary remission for a patient suffering from Hodgkin's Disease.
First Course in Pediatric Medicine. Dr. Eli Ives presents the country’s first pediatric course at Yale Medical College in 1813.
Connecticut's First Hospital. Yale New Haven Hospital, originally called the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, opened as an 11-bed facility in 1826, becoming Connecticut's first and the nation's fourth volunteer hospital.
First Heart-Lung Machine. William H. Swell Jr. and William Glen developed a prototype heart-lung machine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 1949. A major breakthrough in modern medicine, this bypass equipment allows physicians to perform delicate operations directly on the heart while blood flow proceeded normally.
Neonatal ICU and Fetal Heart Monitoring. The first use of fetal heart monitoring equipment and the establishment of the first newborn intensive care unit were at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1960.
First Identification of Lyme Disease. Identified and treated successfully in the mid-1970's by Yale's Section of Rheumatology, this disease is named for the Connecticut town where several cases were first identified. Yale University School of Medicine remains a major location for information, research and treatment of the disease.
First Fetal Cardiovascular Center. The first fetal cardiovascular center in the United States was established at Yale New Haven Hospital in 1985.
First Transplantations. Yale New Haven Hospital was the site for many transplant done for the first time in Connecticut: cornea, 1957; kidney, 1967; liver, 1983; heart, 1984; bone marrow, 1988; heart-lung, 1988; pancreas, 1989; single lung, 1990; heart from unmatched donor, 1992.
Roger Sherman. At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Sherman offered the "Connecticut Compromise," which resulted in our two-chamber legislature with representation based on population in the House of Representatives and equal representation for each state in the Senate. First mayor of New Haven, Sherman is the only man to sign all four basic documents of American government: the Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution. Sherman is buried in the New Haven Burying Ground/Grove Street Cemetery.
Noah Webster. Moved to New Haven in 1798, where he held elective offices. In 1807, Webster began to compile his American Dictionary of the English language, which was published in 1828. Webster is buried in the New Haven Burying Ground/Grove Street Cemetery.
Knights of Columbus World Headquarters. In 1882, Rev. J.J. McGivney led a group of lay-Catholic men who formed the Knights of Columbus. New Haven is still home to the International Headquarters of the Knights of Columbus.
Yale University Graduates. Among its many notable graduates are George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Gerald Ford, and William Howard Taft. Other famous graduates are: William F. Buckley, Jodie Foster, Nathan Hale, Meryl Streep, Gary Trudeau, Sigourney Weaver, Noah Webster, Thornton Wilder, Henry Winkler and Tom Wolfe.