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City of New London
—  City  —
Downtown on the west bank of the Thames River

Nickname(s): The Whaling City
Motto: Mare Liberum
Coordinates: 41°21′20″N 72°05′58″W / 41.35556°N 72.09944°W / 41.35556; -72.09944
Country  United States
State Connecticut
Region Southeastern Connecticut
NECTA Norwich-New London
County New London County
Settled 1646 (Pequot Plantation)
Named 1658 (New London)
Incorporated (city) 1784
 - Type Council-manager
 - City council Rev. Wade Hyslop, Mayor
John Maynard, Dep. Mayor
Margeret Mary Curtain
Kevin J. Cavanagh
Adam Sprecace
Robert M. Pero
Michael Buscetto III
 - City Manager Martin Berliner
 - Supt. of Schools Christopher Clouet
 - City 10.76 sq mi (27.9 km2)
 - Land 5.54 sq mi (14.3 km2)
 - Water 5.23 sq mi (13.5 km2)
 - Urban 123.03 sq mi (318.66 km2)
Elevation 56 ft (17 m)
Population (2005)[1][2]
 - City 26,174
 Density 4,725/sq mi (1,824/km2)
 Metro 266,618
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06320
Area code(s) 860
FIPS code 09-52280
GNIS feature ID 0209237
Website City of New London

New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States. It is located at the mouth of the Thames River (pronounced as to rhyme with 'James', unlike the river of the same name in London, the capital of England, which pronounces it to rhyme with 'hems') in New London County, southeastern Connecticut.

The city is home to Connecticut College, Mitchell College, the United States Coast Guard Academy, and The Williams School. New London Harbor is home port to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chinook and the Coast Guard's tall ship Eagle.

New London had a population of 25,671 at the 2000 census. The Norwich-New London metropolitan area (NECTA [3]) includes twenty-one towns [4] and 266,618 people [5]. The population of the city of New London is 26,174 [6].



View of New London in 1854
Historic Church of Christ on State Street in New London -- side photo taken from Citizens Bank

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,[3] 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 & nearly burned to the ground on September 6, 1781 Battle of Groton Heights, by Norwich Native Benedict Arnold in the attempts to destroy the colonial privateer fleet and storage of goods and naval stores within the city. 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 by Arnold who sold its secrets to the British fleet so they could avoid its artillery fire. Ft. Griswold was attacked and the British suffered great casualties before eventually storming the fort and slaughtering many of the militia who defended the fort. 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 more than 6 militia killed and 24 wounded while Arnold and the British and Hessian raiding party suffered an equal amount.[4]

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.

The family of Nobel and Pulitzer-Prize playwright Eugene O'Neill, 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 there, and a family home there is a museum and Registered National Landmark operated by the O'Neill Theater Center.) Dutch's Tavern on Green Street was a favorite watering hole of Eugene O'Neill and still stands today.

Kelo v. New London, Supreme Court case

On February 22, 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided in Kelo v. City of New London, that the city may seize privately owned real property under eminent domain so that it could be used for private economic development, deciding the tax revenue from the private development satisfied the requirement for public interest for eminent domain.

In spite of the city's legal victory, the project never got off the ground. The city's chosen redeveloper was not able to get financing for the project. In spite of an expenditure over eighty million dollars by the city acquiring and demolishing the area where the taken homes once stood, is now a vacant, trash-strewn parcel; that, according to the New London newspaper, The Day, is being taken over by weeds and birds. In November, 2009, Pfizer, which was to be the primary beneficiary of the redevelopment, announced that they instead are closing their facility adjacent to the site and leaving the region.[5][6]

Towns created from New London

When established, New London originally had a larger land area. Towns set off since include:

  • Groton in 1705
    • Ledyard (originally North Groton) created from a part of Groton in 1836
  • Montville in 1786
    • Salem created from parts of Montville, Colchester and Lyme in 1819
  • Waterford in 1801
    • East Lyme created from parts of Waterford and Lyme in 1839


49% of New London's area is water.

In terms of land area, New London is one of the smallest cities in Connecticut. Of the whole 10.76 square miles (27.9 km²), nearly half is water; 5.54 square miles (14.3 km²) is land [7].

The town and city of New London are coextensive. Between 1705 and 1801 sections of the original town were ceded to form newer towns. The towns of Groton, Ledyard, Montville, and Waterford; and portions of Salem and East Lyme; now occupy what had earlier been the outlying area of New London [8].

New London is bounded on the west and north by the town of Waterford, on the east by the Thames River and Groton, and on the south by Long Island Sound.

The geographic coordinates of the state superior courthouse in New London are 41° 21' 20" N, 72° 5' 58" W [9].

Principal communities

Other minor communities and geographic features are: Bates Woods Park, Fort Trumbull, Glenwood Park, Green's Harbor Beach, Mitchell's Woods, Riverside Park, Old Town Mill.


New London is a frequent stop on Amtrak's Acela Express
Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas passing USCG Barque Eagle

By land, New London is practically midway between New York City and Boston. The major seaboard interstate highway, I-95, passes through the city, and New London's Amtrak station is on the passenger rail Northeast Corridor. The city of Worcester, Massachusetts is 74 miles (119 km) northward, principally via Interstate 395, and the Connecticut capital, Hartford, is 53 miles (85 km) to the northwest via a sequence of state highways.

New London is served by local taxi companies, regional Southeast Area Transit buses, interstate Greyhound Lines buses, the Cross Sound Ferry to Long Island, the Fishers Island Ferry District, and in summer by the Block Island Express ferry.

The Groton-New London Airport is located in neighboring Groton; and two major airports, T. F. Green and Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport are within 75 minutes driving time.

Rail freight is by the Providence & Worcester Railroad and the New England Central Railroad. Seagoing cargo at the State Pier is handled by Logistec.

New London is also currently visited by Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships.


Population since 1810
Population 1756–1800 [10]
1756 †‡ 3,171
1774 †‡ 5,888
1782 †‡ 5,688
1800 ‡ 5,150
† Includes area taken to form other towns in 1786 and 1801
‡ Includes area taken to form other towns in 1801

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 25,671 people, 10,181 households, and 5,385 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,635.5/sq mi (1,789.1/km²). There were 11,560 housing units at an average density of 2,087.4/sq mi (805.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 19.71% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 18.64% African American, 0.88% Native American, 2.12% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 9.13% from other races, 63.49% White and 5.67% from two or more races. The largest white ethnic origins are Irish (13.9%), Italian (11.7%), English (8.6%), German (7.3%), Polish (4.3%), and French (4.1%). [11]

There were 10,181 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.4% were married couples living together, 17.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.1% were non-families. 37.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 17.6% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 17.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 95.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,809, and the median income for a family was $38,942. Males had a median income of $31,405 versus $25,426 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,437. About 13.4% of families and 15.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.


Municipal Building on State Street in New London
Ballot on New London voting machine

New London has a form of government centering on a professional city manager and elected city council. Distinct town and city government structures formerly existed, and technically continue. However, they now govern exactly the same territory, and have elections on the same ballot on Election Day in November, the first Tuesday after the first Monday, of odd-numbered years; the officials of town and city interact essentially as do the officials of a single town or city who have different but related responsibilities and powers.

Notable residents

Lyman Allyn Art Museum, designed by Charles A. Platt

See also: Connecticut College people.



Entrance to New London Historic Waterfront District
Gold Star Bridge from a city pier
  • Hempstead, Joshua (1998) [1901]. Diary of Joshua Hempstead: a record of life in colonial New London, Connecticut, 1711–1758. New London: New London County Historical Society. pp. 750 pages. ISBN 0-9607744-3-2. 
  • Gerba, Janet Burnett (1995) [1995]. With no little regrett [sic]: an historical novel based on The journal of Madam Knight. Rutland, Vt: Colonial American Press. pp. 275 pages. ISBN 0-9647752-0-4. 
  • King, Matthew. The New London State of Mind. New London: 
  • King, Matthew. Why Not New London?. New London: 
  • King, Matthew. New London Eel Stew. New London: 
  • Knight, Sarah Kemble (1992) [1825]. The journal of Madam Knight, 1704. Chester, Ct: Applewood Books. pp. 72 pages. ISBN 1-5570911-5-3. 
  • Stone, Clifford (1976) [1976]. The Great Sunflower: A Novel. Seattle: Vanguard Press. ISBN 0-8149-0775-X. 
  • Shasha, Mark (1992) [1992]. Night of the Moonjellies. New York: Simon&Schuster. ISBN 1930900163. 

Local music

New London from the harbor

It is also home to one of the larger music festivals on the East Coast, I AM Festival which features notable acts from the city's burgeoning independent music scene along with touring national acts. This festival is run by New London Music Festival and booked by Sean Murray and Rich Martin. Past acts include Rye Coalition, Jay Reatard, Girl Talk, Deerhoof, MC Chris, Rainer Maria and more.[8] The Rock Fix is another popular annual musical showcase sponsored by independent label Cosmodemonic Telegraph and held in conjunction with the annual Hygienic Art show. To keep up on the ever growing New London music and arts scene, locals stay tuned to, an online zine which promotes, supports, informs and documents New London music & arts. New London has been home to an active and vital original music scene since the 70s.

Eclectic and diverse, New London is home to many musicians. The more well-known include:

Quiet Life, a folk rock band, was formed in New London in 2004 but now resides in Portland, OR.[9]

Other notable acts past and present include: The Reducers, Paisley Jungle, Live Nude Girls, New Johnny 5, The Cartoons, Grand Passion, Fatal Film, The Suicide Dolls, The Brain Police, Incognito Sofa Love, Swinging Johnsons, Sloth, Eli Treatment, Ringers, Brazen Hussy, Gone for Good, Paul Brockett Roadshow Band, Recur Occurrence, Flesh Hammer, DOT, The Liz Larsons, Low-Beam, Total Bolsheviks, the Weird Beards , Straight to VHS , The Hoolios, Above/Below, the Hempsteadys, Quiet Life and many more.

Sites of interest

From the waterfront in New London ferry service is available to the resort of Block Island, Rhode Island.
Downtown New London (2009)
Royal Hotel downtown
Military monument in downtown New London


Further reading

View of New London in 1813
  • Caulkins, Frances Manwaring (1985) [1852]. History of New London Connecticut from the first survey of the coast in 1612 to 1852. New London: New London County Historical Society. ISBN 0-8328-0008-2. 
  • Powell, Walter L. (December 2000). Murder or Mayhem?: Benedict Arnold's New London, Connecticut Raid, 1781. Thomas Publications. ISBN 1-57747-059-1. 
  • Stone, Gregory N. (June 2000). The Day Paper. The Story of One of America's Last Independent Newspapers. New London: The Day Publishing Company. ISBN 0-9672028-0-9. 
  • Richter, Robert A. (2001). "Touring Eugene O'Neill's New London". Connecticut College. Retrieved 2006-10-19. "Due to urban renewal in the 1960s, Bradley Street no longer exists, but during O'Neill's day it hummed with activity. At the turn of the last century traveling salesmen reported that New London had 'the liveliest, most wide-open red-light district between New York and Boston.' Bradley Street was the district's hub, even though the New London Police Headquarters was located here." 
  • Starr, William Holt (1876). A Centennial Historical Sketch of the Town of New London. New London: G.E. Starr. OCLC 5956004. 
  • Benedict, Jeff (2009). Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage. One Woman's Historic Battle Against Eminent Domain. New York: Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 978-0-446-54444-3. 

External links

Coordinates: 41°21′15″N 72°06′04″W / 41.354069°N 72.10104°W / 41.354069; -72.10104

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