Town of Groton
USS Nautilus moored in Groton at the Submarine Force Museum
The Submarine Capital of the World
Location within New London County, Connecticut
|Metropolitan area||New London|
|• Town Council||Patrice Granatosky (D), Mayor |
Portia Bordelon (D)
Aundre Bumgardner (D)
Rachel Franco (D)
Conrad Heede (D)
Juan Melendez (D)
Lian Obrey (D)
Juliette Parker (D)
Joe Zeppeiri (D)
|• Town Manager||John Burt|
|• Town meeting moderator||Syma Ebbin (D)|
|• State Representative||Joe De La Cruz (D)|
Christine Conley (D)
|• State Senator||Heather Somers (R)|
|• Total||45.3 sq mi (117.3 km2)|
|• Land||31.0 sq mi (80.4 km2)|
|• Water||14.2 sq mi (36.9 km2)|
|• Density||890/sq mi (340/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
Groton // is a town in New London County, Connecticut located on the Thames River. It is the home of General Dynamics Electric Boat, which is the major contractor for submarine work for the United States Navy. The Naval Submarine Base New London is located in Groton, and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer is also a major employer. Avery Point in Groton is home to a regional campus of the University of Connecticut. The population was 40,115 at the 2010 census.
Groton was established in 1705 when it separated from New London, Connecticut. The town was named after Groton, Suffolk in England.A hundred years before it was established, the Niantic people settled in the area between the Thames River and Pawcatuck River, but they eventually settled in Westerly, Rhode Island. The newcomers to the land were the Pequots, a branch of the Mohawk people who moved eastward into the Connecticut River Valley.
The summer of 1614 was the first time that the Pequots encountered white settlers. They started trading furs for the settlers' goods, such as steel knives, needles, and boots. In 1633, the Dutch bought land from them and opened a fur trading post. Meanwhile, the English bought land for settlement from the local tribes. The Dutch had unintentionally killed the Pequots' chief, and this prompted revenge by the Pequot tribe, and this escalated into the Pequot War (1636–38). On the night of May 26, 1637, the Colonial forces arrived outside the Pequot village near the Mystic River. The palisade surrounding the village had only two exits, and their leader Colonel John Mason gave the order to set the village on fire and block off the exits. Those who tried climbing over the palisade were shot; anyone who succeeded in getting over was killed by the Narragansett forces.
The land was poor for farming, but access to the region's waterways left room for commerce and trade, and Groton became a town of oceangoing settlers. Most of the community began to build ships, and soon traders made their way to Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony to trade for food, tools, weapons, and clothing. John Leeds was the earliest shipbuilder, coming as a sea captain from Kent, England. He built a 20-ton brigantine, a two-masted sailing ship with square-rigged sails on the foremast and fore-and-aft sails on the mainmast. Thomas Starr built a 67-ton square-sterned vessel, and Thomas Latham launched a 100-ton brig on the Groton bank with mast standing and fully rigged. The sturdy ships built in Groton engaged in very profitable trade with the islands of the Caribbean.
On September 6, 1781, the Battle of Groton Heights was fought between a combined force of state troops and local militia led by William Ledyard and numerous British forces led by Benedict Arnold. No one at Fort Griswold had expected an attack, especially after six years of false alarms. At sunrise, a force of 1,700 British regulars landed on both sides of the mouth of the Thames River. The fleet had sailed from Long Island the evening before, and only a sudden shift in the wind prevented a surprise attack during the night; it was 9 a.m. the next day before the transports could come ashore to land the troops.
Across the Thames River in New London, Benedict Arnold was leading an 800-man detachment which destroyed stockpiles of goods and naval stores. His men set fire to a ship containing gunpowder which created an uncontrollable fire that destroyed most of New London. Meanwhile, a British force of 800 men moved toward Fort Griswold in Groton, which was garrisoned by 164 militia and local men. The British sent a flag of surrender to Fort Griswold, but Colonel William Ledyard refused and returned it. The British then attacked, opening the bloody Battle of Groton Heights. After an initial repulse, the British succeeded in entering the fort and overpowering the small garrison inside. Ledyard realized that his men were overpowered and surrendered to the British—who proceeded to slaughter the Americans and murder Ledyard with his own sword. Jonathan Rathbun described the surrender this way:
The wretch who murdered him [Ledyard], exclaimed, as he came near, "Who commands this fort?" Ledyard handsomely replied, "I did, but you do now," at the same moment handing him his sword, which the unfeeling villain buried in his breast! Oh, the hellish spite and madness of a man that will murder a reasonable and noble-hearted officer, in the act of submitting and surrendering!
A memorial for the Battle of Groton Heights was put up in 1830 for the 88 men and boys who were killed at the fort. Fort Griswold is the only intact memorial in town left from the Revolutionary War. The 135-foot-tall (41 m) monument has become the town's symbol and is now featured on the Groton town seal.
Shortly after the Revolutionary War, Groton started to re-establish its commercial activities. Shipbuilders began to build again; Victory was launched in 1784, Success was launched in 1785, and five sloops were built in 1787, along with the 164-ton Nancy. Shipbuilders along the Mystic River were the busiest. These ships went on trips to Florida, and the resulting profits made Mystic the most thriving part of the town.
Between 1784 and 1800, 32 vessels were built in Groton. 28 more were built from 1800 to 1807, when business came to a sudden stop with the Embargo Act. In June 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain. Most of the United States' small navy was landlocked in the Thames River. This frightened the people in Groton for fear that there would be a repeat of the Groton Heights massacre of 1781, and many residents fled inland for safety. Those that did not flee demanded protection and militia. These residents built a fort on a hill of rock that held one cannon and maintained constant guard. The fort was named Fort Rachel, after a woman that lived nearby. The British never attacked but created a blockade that ruined Groton's trade.
Some men from Mystic lured a British barge to Groton Long Point on August 12, 1814, the day after the British attacked Stonington, gaining themselves 2,600 dollars in prize money. The men in Mystic captured a sloop, the cargo of which they later sold for 6,000 dollars. Seventeen Mystic men also tried out a new weapon called the spar torpedo to rid themselves of the British blockade. They brought the torpedo from New York; it was 30 feet (9 m) long, 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter, and had a 12-foot (4 m) crossbar at one end. The men failed to sink HMS Ramillies. On their first attempt, the torpedo went into the water; on the second attempt, the explosive caught on Ramillies' cable and exploded. All the men made it safely to the shore while being fired at by the British ship and the American sentries at Eastern Point.
Groton received word that the war was over on February 21, 1815. The land-locked frigates left the Thames in April, leaving Groton to resume its marine pursuits.
After the War of 1812, whaling became a very important part of Groton's economy, but most of the expeditions were still for seal skins. Before 1820, sealers went to Antarctica, where their ships would drop them off. They would kill the seals and then prepare the skins for some weeks, until their ship returned for them. By 1830, whaling had become Mystic's main business. By 1846, Groton became one of the world's prime whaling ports. Whaling was difficult and dangerous, but boys would go out to sea to make their fortune, nonetheless, in the hope that some of them would eventually come to command a vessel.
In 1865, Ebenezer Morgan made one of the most profitable voyages. He sold his cargo for $150,000. Three years later, he raised the first American flag on Alaskan territory, and there he collected 45,000 seal skins. When he retired, it was said that his estate totaled up to $1 million.
William H. Allen, another son of Groton, spent 25 years commanding a whale ship. Old sailors said that "whales rose to the surface and waited to be harpooned." When he retired, he spent 12 years working as a selectman.
In 1849, the discovery of gold in California created a demand for speed that resulted in the creation of the clipper ship, a fast sailing ship with multiple masts and a square rig. The most important vessel built at the Mystic River Shipyard was the clipper ship Andrew Jackson . In 1859, it sailed from New York City to San Francisco in a record time of 89 days and 4 hours. Both clippers and sailing packets were built in the shipyards of the Mystic River at that time. The Mystic shipyards started building ships with a greater cargo capacity after the Civil War.
Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War, wanted three experimental ironclad steamers to be built in private shipyards and used against the Confederacy's wooden fleet. A company in Groton was chosen to build a bomb-proof steamer designed by C.S. Bushnell of New Haven. 100 men were hired, and a big shed was built so that construction could continue rain or shine. The ship was ready for launching in 130 days. There were many skeptics who believed that the ship would sink or corrode once it hit the salt water, and there were very few who thought that it might float. Thousands came to watch Galena's launch on Valentine's Day 1862. Reporters commented that she floated like a duck. When it came time for Galena to enter battle, she was pierced 13 times. Thirteen of the crew members were killed and 11 were wounded from flying metal fragments. During the Civil War, 56 steamships were built for government service in shipyards on both sides of the Mystic River.
After the war, there were dozens of excess war steamships and, after 1870, shipbuilding moved up to Noank within the Groton town limits. One of the largest shipyards was Palmer Shipyard, established in Noank in 1827. A marine railway built in Groton in 1860 allowed them to pull vessels out of the water for repairs, which brought in a lot of business and money. The shipyard was running up to 1913 when one of the Palmer brothers died, but during World War I the shipyard was used again. Iron ships began to be demanded, and their construction attracted workers to Groton. Housing was beginning to run short, so Groton Realty had to hurry to build hotels and cottages. The ships which brought the workers in turn also brought more business to the Realty.
The Naval Submarine Base New London was founded in Groton in 1872 as the New London Navy Yard. Submarines were first based there in 1915, and in 1916 it was officially renamed a submarine base.
Groton used to include what is now the town of Ledyard, which separated from Groton in 1836. The original center of Groton is still known as Center Groton at the present-day intersection of Route 184 and Route 117, now in the north-central part of town, due to the departure of Ledyard to the north. Groton Center was the location of the town's first school, church, tavern, and stagecoach shop.
In the 20th century, the shipbuilding industry moved from the Mystic River to the Thames River. Electric Boat is the town's largest employer. However, until 1931, submarines designed by Electric Boat were subcontracted to other shipyards, primarily Fore River Shipbuilding in Quincy, Massachusetts. Electric Boat commenced industrial operations in Groton with the establishment of the New London Ship and Engine Company (NELSECO) as a subsidiary in 1911. NELSECO was the primary engine manufacturer for Electric Boat-designed submarines 1911–1925. In 1931, USS Cuttlefish was laid down as the first submarine built in Groton. During World War II, Electric Boat completed submarines every two weeks.
In 1954, Electric Boat launched USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine. Presently, Nautilus is decommissioned and open for visitors, permanently berthed at the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum. Groton is sometimes referred to as the "Submarine Capital of the World," due to the long-standing history of submarines in the town, and the fact that Groton has one of the largest submarine bases in the world. The National World War II Submarine Memorial East is located in Groton, including parts of USS Flasher.
The Groton and Stonington Street Railway was a trolley line that was created in 1904 to serve the Groton area. The trolley was dismantled and replaced by buses in 1928.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 45.3 square miles (117.3 km2), of which 31.0 square miles (80.4 km2) is land and 14.2 square miles (36.9 km2), or 31.47%, is water.
Other minor communities and geographic features are Bluff Point, Eastern Point, Esker Point, Jupiter Point, Mumford Cove, and West Pleasant Valley.
Groton has a humid continental climate (Dfb).
|Climate data for Groton–New London Airport (GON) (1981–2010), snow data from Norwich, Connecticut (1981–2010).|
|Record high °F (°C)||65|
|Average high °F (°C)||37.5|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||29.5|
|Average low °F (°C)||21.6|
|Record low °F (°C)||−14|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.27|
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||8.8|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.05)||6||5||6||7||8||8||6||6||6||7||7||7||79|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.05)||3||3||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||10|
|Population 1756–2000 |
As of the censusof 2000, there were 39,907 people, 15,473 households, and 9,980 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,275.2 people per square mile (492.3/km²). There were 16,817 housing units at an average density of 537.4 per square mile (207.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 83.61% White, 6.95% Black or African American, 0.83% Native American, 3.33% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 1.66% from other races, and 3.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.01% of the population.
There were 15,473 households out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the town, the age distribution of the population shows 24.8% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.5 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $46,154, and the median income for a family was $51,402. Males had a median income of $36,204 versus $30,255 for females. The per capita income for the town was $23,995. About 4.9% of families and 6.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.0% of those under age 18 and 6.1% of those age 65 or over.
|Voter registration and party enrollment as of October 25, 2005|
|Party||Active voters||Inactive voters||Total voters||Percentage|
There are two major companies in Groton: General Dynamics Electric Boat and Pfizer. The Electric Boat plant on the eastern shore of the Thames River employs 10,500 people in the community. Pfizer is one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, and the company maintains a 137-acre (0.55 km2) research and development facility in Groton.
According to the Town's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,the top employers are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Naval Submarine Base New London||10,150|
|2||General Dynamics Electric Boat||8,277|
|4||Town of Groton||947|
|5||1109th Aviation Classification and Repair Depot||466|
|6||City of Groton||266|
|9||Pequot Health Center||169|
There are many schools in the Groton area.
Groton Public Schools currently include 11 schools, but there are plans to consolidate the three middle schools into two middle schools. In 2012 Fitch Middle was closed.
Groton is served by Southeast Area Transit.
Town residents or others closely associated with Groton:
General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) is a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation. It has been the primary builder of submarines for the United States Navy for more than 100 years. The company's main facilities are a shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, a hull-fabrication and outfitting facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and a design and engineering facility in New London, Connecticut.
Naval Submarine Base New London is the United States Navy's primary East Coast submarine base, also known as the "Home of the Submarine Force". It is located in Groton, Connecticut directly across the Thames River from its namesake city of New London.
New London County is in the southeastern corner of Connecticut and comprises the Norwich-New London, Connecticut Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Hartford-West Hartford, Connecticut Combined Statistical Area. There is no county government and no county seat, as is the case with all eight of Connecticut's counties; towns are responsible for all local government activities, including fire and rescue, snow removal, and schools.
New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States, located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, Connecticut. It was one of the world's three busiest whaling ports for several decades beginning in the early 19th century, along with Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. The wealth that whaling brought into the city furnished the capital to fund much of the city's present architecture. The city subsequently became home to other shipping and manufacturing industries, but it has gradually lost most of its industrial heart.
Ledyard is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States, located along the Thames River. The town is named after Colonel William Ledyard, a Revolutionary War officer who was killed at the Battle of Groton Heights. The population was 15,051 at the 2010 census. The Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, is located in the northeastern section of Ledyard, on land owned by the tribe. Ledyard's zip code is 06339. Within the southwestern area of Ledyard is the district known as Gales Ferry, which has the postal code 06335.
Mystic is a village and census-designated place (CDP) in Groton and Stonington, Connecticut; it has no independent government because it is not a municipality in the state of Connecticut.
Noank is a village and census-designated place (CDP) in the town of Groton, Connecticut. The original settlement is along Elm Street and east of it towards Morgan Point, and is listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. The population was 1,796 at the 2010 census.
The Thames River is a short river and tidal estuary in the state of Connecticut. It flows south for 15 miles (24 km) through eastern Connecticut from the junction of the Yantic River and Shetucket River at Norwich, Connecticut, to New London and Groton, Connecticut which flank its mouth at Long Island Sound. The Thames River watershed includes a number of smaller basins and the 80-mile-long Quinebaug River, which rises in southern Massachusetts and joins the Shetucket River about four miles northeast of Norwich.
The Battle of Groton Heights was a battle of the American Revolutionary War fought on September 6, 1781 between a small Connecticut militia force led by Lieutenant Colonel William Ledyard and the more numerous British forces led by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold and Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Eyre.
The Southeastern Connecticut region comprises, as the name suggests, the southeastern corner of the state of Connecticut. It is sometimes referred to as Greater New London or by the tourist slogan Mystic and More.
Fort Trumbull is a fort near the mouth of the Thames River on Long Island Sound in New London, Connecticut and named for Governor Jonathan Trumbull. The original fort was built in 1777, but the present fortification was built between 1839 and 1852. The site lies adjacent to the Coast Guard Station New London and is managed as the 16-acre Fort Trumbull State Park by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Fort Griswold is a former American defensive fortification in Groton, Connecticut named after Deputy Governor Matthew Griswold. The fort played a key role in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, in correspondence with Fort Trumbull on the opposite side of the Thames River. Griswold defended the port of New London, Connecticut, a supply center for the Continental Army and friendly port for Connecticut-sanctioned privateers who attacked British ships. The 17-acre site is maintained as Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Connecticut Route 12 is a state highway that runs between Groton and the state line in Thompson.
William Ledyard was a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut militia who was killed during the American Revolutionary War. He commanded Fort Griswold in Groton and resisted the British forces during the Battle of Groton Heights on September 6, 1781. The British finally took the fort, and Ledyard surrendered—but the British officer took Ledyard's sword and used it to kill him in the very act of his surrender, then led the British forces to slaughter the surrendering Americans.
The Noank Historic District is a historic district encompassing the historic main part of the village of Noank in the town of Groton, Connecticut. The district contains a distinctive assortment of mid-to-late 19th-century residential architecture that is notable for its often picturesque woodwork. At the time of their construction, the village was primarily a worker village for nearby shipyards. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Alabama is a Gloucester fishing schooner that was built in 1926 and served as the pilot boat for Mobile, Alabama. The Alabama's home port is Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The Alabama is owned by The Black Dog Tall Ships, along with the Shenandoah, and offers cruises of Nantucket Sound.
The Groton and Stonington Street Railway was an interurban trolley line that extended from Groton, Connecticut to Westerly, Rhode Island, with a later branch to Old Mystic, Connecticut and an extension to New London. The line operated from 1904 to 1919 and 1923 to 1928, after which it was replaced by buses.
Groton Public Schools is a school district located in Groton, Connecticut, United States. The Groton Public School District services students from the City of Groton, Town of Groton, Groton Long Point, Noank, and West Mystic areas. The school district includes students of families who are employed at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Pfizer, and US Navy Submarine Base NLON. Due to the military population, a large number of students move in and out of the school district due to military transfers.
The Ebenezer Avery House was originally located on Latham Street and Thames Street in Groton, Connecticut, United States. The date of the house's construction is unknown, but it is believed to be from the 1760s and it was the house of Ebenezer Avery. The Ebenezer Avery House was the location where the British brought the injured soldiers after the Battle of Groton Heights on September 6, 1781. In 1971, the house was moved to Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park in Groton and restored. Though it stands in a state park, the historic house museum continues to be maintained by the Avery Memorial Association.
The Harbor Defenses of Long Island Sound was a United States Army Coast Artillery Corps harbor defense command. It coordinated the coast defenses of Long Island Sound and Connecticut from 1895 to 1950, beginning with the Endicott program. These included both coast artillery forts and underwater minefields. The area defended included the approach via the Sound to New York City, the port cities and manufacturing centers of New London, New Haven, and Bridgeport, and eventually included the submarine base and shipyard in Groton. The command originated circa 1900 as an Artillery District, was renamed Coast Defenses of Long Island Sound in 1913, and again renamed Harbor Defenses of Long Island Sound in 1925.
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