New London is a city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States. It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut. New London is located about from Boston, Massachusetts, from Providence, Rhode Island, from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and about from New York City.
For several decades beginning in the early 19th century, New London was the world's third busiest whaling port after New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Nantucket. The wealth that whaling brought into the city furnished the capital to fund much of the city's present architecture. New London subsequently became home to other shipping and manufacturing industries, but has gradually lost its commercial and industrial heart. The city is home to Connecticut College, Mitchell College, the United States Coast Guard Academy, and The Williams School. The Coast Guard Station New London and New London Harbor is home port to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chinook and the Coast Guard's tall ship Eagle.
The area was called Nameaug by the Pequot Indians. John Winthrop, Jr. founded the first English settlement here in 1646, making it about the 13th town settled in Connecticut. Inhabitants informally named it Pequot after the tribe. The Connecticut General Assembly wanted to name the town Faire Harbour, but the citizens protested, declaring that they would prefer it to be called Nameaug. The legislature relented, and on March 10, 1658 the town was officially named after London, England.
The harbor was considered to be the best deep water harbor on Long Island Sound, and consequently New London became a base of American naval operations during the Revolutionary War. Famous New Londoners during the American Revolution include Nathan Hale, William Coit, Richard Douglass, Thomas & Nathaniel Shaw, Gen. Samuel Parsons, printer Timothy Green, Reverend Seabury. New London was raided and nearly burned to the ground on September 6, 1781 in the Battle of Groton Heights by Norwich native Benedict Arnold in an attempt to destroy the Revolutionary privateer fleet and supplies of goods and naval stores within the city. It is often noted that this raid on New London and Groton was to divert General Washington and the French Army under Rochambeau from their march on Yorktown, Virginia. The main defensive fort for New London, Fort Griswold, located across the Thames River in Groton, was well known to Arnold, who sold its secrets to the British fleet so that they could avoid its artillery fire. After overrunning New London's Fort Trumbull, Ft. Griswold was attacked by the British, who suffered great casualties before eventually storming the fort and slaughtering many of the militia who defended it. All told, more than 52 British soldiers and 83 militia were killed, and more than 142 British and 39 militia were wounded, many mortally. New London suffered over 6 militia killed and 24 wounded, while Arnold and the British and Hessian raiding party suffered an equal amount.
Connecticut's independent legislature, in its January session of 1784, made New London one of the first two cities (along with New Haven) brought from de facto to formalized incorporations.
For several decades beginning in the early 19th century, New London was the second busiest whaling port after New Bedford, Massachusetts in the world. The wealth that whaling brought into the city furnished the capital to fund much of the city's present architecture.
The New Haven and New London Railroad connected New London by rail to New Haven and points beyond by the 1850s. The Springfield and New London Railroad connected New London to Springfield, Massachusetts by the 1870s.
Several military installations, including the current United States Coast Guard Academy and Coast Guard Station New London, have been part of New London's history. Most of these have been located at Fort Trumbull. The first Fort Trumbull was an earthwork built 1775-1777 that took part in the Revolutionary War. The second Fort Trumbull was built 1839-1852 and still stands. By 1910 the fort's defensive function had been superseded by the new forts of the Endicott Program, primarily located on Fishers Island. The fort was turned over to the Revenue Cutter Service and became the Revenue Cutter Academy. The Revenue Cutter Service was merged into the United States Coast Guard in 1915, and the Academy relocated to its current site in 1932. During World War II the Merchant Marine Officers Training School was located at Fort Trumbull. From 1950 to 1990 Fort Trumbull was the location for the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory, which developed sonar and related systems for US Navy submarines. In 1990 the Sound Laboratory was merged with the Naval Underwater Systems Center in Newport, Rhode Island, and in 1996 the New London facility was closed.
Although the Naval Submarine Base New London is physically located in Groton, submarines were stationed in New London from 1951 to 1991. The submarine tender Fulton and Submarine Squadron Ten were at State Pier during this time. Squadron Ten was usually composed of ten submarines and was the first all-nuclear submarine squadron. In the 1990s State Pier was rebuilt as a container terminal.
The family of Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), and most of his own first 26 years, were intimately connected to New London. He lived for years there, and as an adult was employed and wrote his first seven or eight plays in the city. A major O'Neill archive is located at Connecticut College, and a family home there is a museum and registered national historic landmark operated by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Dutch's Tavern on Green Street was a favorite watering hole of Eugene O'Neill and still stands today.
Towns created from New London
When established, New London originally had a larger land area. Towns set off since include: