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Middletown, Connecticut

MIDDLETOWN, CONNECTICUT, a city and the county-seat of Middlesex county, Connecticut, U.S.A., in the township of Middletown, in the south central part of the state, on the west bank of the Connecticut river, about 30 m. from its mouth, and about 15 m. south of Hartford. Pop. (1890), 9013; (1900), 9589, of whom 2316 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 11,851. Within a radius of 2 m. from the city hall there was found in 1910 most of the township's population of 20,749. The city is served by two branches of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad, by a line of coast steamers, and by electric lines connecting with neighbouring cities and villages. The city is connected by a long highway bridge with the village of Portland in the township of Portland (pop. in 1910, 3425; area 26 sq. m.), which is known for its brown-stone quarries. Four miles south of Middletown is Chestnut Mountain (or Bull Hill), which commands a fine view; and about 3 m. east are the " Narrows " of the Connecticut river, where the water flows between high hills. Middletown has a number of handsome residences. In High Street stand the buildings of Wesleyan university (Methodist Episcopal), founded in 1831 by the Rev. Wilbur Fisk, who became the first president, and the Rev. Laban Clark (1778-1868), who became the first president of the board of trustees. Women were first admitted in 1872, but coeducation was later discontinued, and the last freshman class of women students under the old system entered in 1909. The university offers classical and scientific courses, and in 1908-1909 had 36 instructors, 322 students (30 being women), and a library of 79,000 volumes. In 1875-1877 the work of the first agricultural experiment station in the United States was carried on here under state supervision in Wesleyan University, with Professor Wilbur Olin Atwater (1844-1907) as director; it was then removed to New Haven. Middletown is also the seat of the Berkeley divinity school (Protestant Episcopal), founded in 1849 as the theological department of T'rinity College, Hartford, rechartered and removed to Middletown in 1854, and having in 1907 a faculty of 8, and 16 students; and the city has a free public library (1874) with 17,700 vols. in 1907. South-east of the city is the Connecticut hospital for the insane, and south- XVIII. 14 west of the city, the Connecticut industrial school for girls (reformatory). The total value of the factory products in 1905 was $5,604,676, an increase of 35 % over that for 1900. The municipality owns and operates the waterworks.

Middletown occupies the site of an Indian village, Mattabesec or Mattabesett (from Massa-sepues-et, " at a great rivulet or brook "), the principal village of the Mattabesec Indians, an Algonquian tribe which included the Wongunk, Pyquaug and Montowese Indians and seems to have had jurisdiction over the whole of south-western Connecticut. The township of Middletown was settled by whites in 1650, and until 1653, when the present name was adopted, was known by the Indian name, Mattabesett. It was incorporated in 1651; and the city was chartered in 1784. Shipbuilding and commerce became the principal sources of wealth. In the middle of the nineteenth century Middletown was one of the leading cities of Connecticut, and as late as 1886 it was a port of entry; but the development of rival ports, especially New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport, into railway centres, retarded the growth of manufacturing, and commerce declined after the Civil War.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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