The city's official nickname is the "Hardware City" because of its history as a manufacturing center and as the headquarters of Stanley Black & Decker. Because of its large Polish population, the city is often playfully referred to as "New Britski."
New Britain was settled in 1687 and then was incorporated as a new parish under the name New Britain Society in 1754. Chartered in 1850 as a township and in 1871 as a city, New Britain was separated from the nearby town of Berlin, Connecticut. A consolidation charter was adopted in 1905.
During the early part of the 20th century, New Britain was known as the "Hardware Capital of the World", as well as "Hardware City". Major manufacturers, such as The Stanley Works, the P&F Corbin Company (later Corbin Locks), and North & Judd, were headquartered in the city.
The wire coat hanger was invented in 1869 by O. A. North of New Britain, Connecticut.
In 1895, the basketball technique of dribbling was developed at the New Britain YMCA. In 1938, New Britain High School competed in the high school football national championship game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 1954 saw the development of racquetball, also at the YMCA.