On the eve of the Civil War, New Haven had a railroad and had begun to have a ‘city’ look. Stores and banks lined the streets. Wooster Square and Hillhouse Avenue were neighborhoods of splendid homes built by Ithiel Town and Henry Austin. New burial grounds were created outside the growing city as 40,000 now lived in New Haven. Sidewalks and paved roads stretched out from the center of town to newly developing areas. Water was carried in pipes to every neighborhood.
The harbor had seen better days but served its community with four steamboat companies.
Men from New Haven, Rear Admiral Foote and Major General Terry were among many who distinguished themselves during the war. While thousands served as soldiers, the citizens at home made supplies and cared for the returning wounded.
The first Civil War casualty from New Haven was Theodore Winthrop who was buried in the Grove Street Cemetery. War began April 1861, ended April 1865. Less than a week later, President Lincoln was shot.
The Post Civil War Period 1865-1900 saw the development of industry, business and the urban center. The familiar farm scene life style began to disappear as people flocked to the cities to work.
New hopes for the harbor came with business growth. Lighthouses, breakwaters and bridges were added to improve the area.
In 1873 New Haven was described as a city with new streets, new buildings, factories and conveniences for its people. The old wooden structures were disappearing and being replaced by limestone, brownstone, brick and iron. The famous Elm trees were being destroyed by worms and beetles. In the early 1890’s trolleys provided transportation in the city, making shopping areas available to people in the suburbs. Electricity was available to the community. A New Haven man invented the sprinkler system, a great contribution to fire fighting. Fires had long been a hazard because of gas lamps and wood houses.
New Haven and Hartford had shared the power as co-capitals of the colony for 150 years. In 1873 New Haven lost the vote and Hartford emerged as the state capitol.
On July 4, 1876 New Haven celebrated the 100th anniversary of independence of the US. with parades, fireworks and speeches.
Waves of immigrants arrived bringing new skills, labor for the factories and problems. Health and housing required hospitals and homes. Many new churches and synagogues were built.
New Schools were built to provide education for the rapidly growing population. The first kindergarten began with Welch School in 1892. In 1869, after the Civil War and the end of slavery, Black children were enrolled in the public schools, for they had been educated separately until then. In 1887 the Public Library opened.
Theater and concerts came to New Haven. People crowded in to see Vaudeville, plays and to hear symphonies. Sleighing was a popular sport, salt-water bathing in summer. Many clubs and athletic organizations were formed. Football, baseball and track at Yale provided heroes who were idolized by boys on vacant lots and in city parks.
It was during this time that the Winchester arms factory grew to be one of New Haven’s largest and most important industries. Sargent and Company and the New Haven Clock Company were other major industries of the period. Trade unions were formed bringing improved working conditions and wages to the workers.
During the 1870’s the telephone and typewriter were invented creating new conveniences and jobs. New Haven was the first city to issue a telephone directory.
The population of New Haven was a little over 100,000 at the turn of the century. Nearly one third of those people had been born in another country.