Groton, Connecticut

Groton, Connecticut
Groton, Connecticut


Nickname(s): The Submarine Capital of the World
Location within New London County, Connecticut
Coordinates: 41°20′45″N 72°01′47″W / 41.34583°N 72.02972°W / 41.34583; -72.02972Coordinates: 41°20′45″N 72°01′47″W / 41.34583°N 72.02972°W / 41.34583; -72.02972
Country United States
State Connecticut
NECTA Norwich-New London
Region Southeastern Connecticut
Incorporated 1705
 – Type Council-manager
 – Town Council Harry A. Watson, Mayor
Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
Heather Sherman Bond
Catherine Kolnaski
Frank O'Beirne, Jr.
John F. Scott, IV
Paulann H. Sheets
James L. Streeter
Elissa T. Wright
 – Town Manager Mark Oefinger
 – Town meeting moderator Rita M. Schmidt
 – Total 45.2 sq mi (117.1 km2)
 – Land 31.3 sq mi (81.1 km2)
 – Water 13.9 sq mi (36.0 km2)
Population (2008)[1]
 – Total 39,167
 – Density 1,322/sq mi (510/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 06340

Groton /ˈɡrɒtən/ is a town located on the Thames River in New London County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 39,907 at the 2000 census.

Groton is the home of the Electric Boat Corporation, which is the major contractor for submarine work for the United States Navy, and the Navy's SUBASE New London. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer is also a major employer. The Avery Point section of Groton is home to a regional campus of the University of Connecticut.



Groton Monument and Fort Griswold, a sketch by John Warner Barber for his Historical Collections of Connecticut (1836)

Groton, Connecticut was established in 1705 when it made its separation from New London, Connecticut. Over the years Groton has become a very populated city with numerous monuments that makes it one of the most historical cities in the area. Many tourists come from all over to view Groton. Groton has become a very popular town especially with all its attractions. People are mainly attracted to Groton because of General Dynamics branch of Electric Boat, its history with the Revolutionary War, battle memorials and Fort Griswold.

Groton is the home of General Dynamic's Electric Boat Division, which has been supplying the Navy with submersibles since 1899. Electric Boat employs thousands in the Groton/New London area, but since the end of the Cold War, has suffered through many layoffs.

The Old Mystic Baptist Church which was founded in Groton, Connecticut was the first Baptist Church in Connecticut.

The beginning

A hundred years before the town was established, the Nehantic (Native American) Indians were settled in Groton, Connecticut between the Thames and Pawcatuck Rivers. The Nehantic Indians were brutally attacked by another band of natives. These invaders burned their wigwams, destroyed their cornfields and food supplies and a few possessions were stolen. Many of the Nehantic Indians warriors were tomahawked. The survivors fled to Misquamicut, Rhode Island.

The newcomers to the land were the Pequots. The Pequots were a branch on the Mohawks of who were most feared. They were brave and heartless. They had little sympathy which allowed them to create horrifying types of torture for their enemies. They wrote their names in blood and fire all over but also in Groton, Connecticut. As the Pequots population grew it forced them to move eastward into the Connecticut Valley. But soon enough they began to rampage through the villages of the River Indians. The Peqouts finally rested and made their headquarters in Groton, Connecticut. They built 3 villages at Groton Heights, Fort Hill, and Mystic. This was all prime Indian country. They land supplied them with all they needed to survive, and there was game of all kinds.

Life was hard for the Peqouts, without having more modern weapons and tools to work with. They made canoes from burning out the insides of a straight tree trunk. The rivers in Groton were the Pequots form on transportation: Groton has navigable water on three sides. On the west side, deep Thames River; on the east, the Mystic with shelving shores and a safe anchorage. On the south Groton borders on Fishers Island Sound; a ragged, rocky shoreline with many coves and inlets and three splendid sandy beaches at Eastern Point, Bluff Point and Groton Long Point.

Between the rivers the land was undulating and rough, until you got to the center, Poquonnock Plains, which was a nice smooth stretch of land that went to the sound. To the North of Poquonnock lied the center on Groton until 1836.

The summer on 1614 was the first time the Pequots ever met the white settlers. They started trading furs for the settler’s goods. Things like steel knives, needles and boots. In 1633 the Dutch bought land from the Pequots and permission for River Indians to bring their fur for trade. Meanwhile the English bought land for settlement away from the local tribes. The Dutch had unintentionally killed the Pequots Chief. This created a need for revenge by the Pequot tribe, so they attacked. Soon after attacking the new leader of the Pequots Sassacus realized that they were in grave danger because the English hated them and so did the surrounding Indians. The Pequots had been expelled from their land by white settlers. They too could see how beautiful the land was. The land was covered in forest and flowing with wildlife and all types of birds and animals that they have never seen before.

In 1630 John Winthrop the Younger had stayed in Groton to take care of the manor while his father led 100 puritans to Boston. He became a business agent for the colonists but soon after in 1631 he sailed a ship to come up with remedies. He became New England’s first recognized scientist.

The first settlers of Groton had to be farmers because they needed to provide the necessities of food and clothing. The land that they had to work with though made it very difficult to start off. The land was mainly made up of rocks and trees. Because of the earlier glaciers it wiped away all of the top soil. Therefore all of the rocks and trees had to be removed before any work could be done to the ground. Livestock was also very important to the settlers. Cattle were great for providing dairy; pigs and sheep for wool and animal protein; and the oxen did the heavy farm work. In 1660, Gray wolves in the area started to become such a problem that the settlers offered to give 20 shillings for each wolf that is killed. Since the land was poor and they were settled right on the water it left room for commerce and trade.

Groton became an oceangoing town. Most of the community began to build ships and soon the first traders made their way to Boston and Plymouth to trade for food, tools weapons and clothing. John Leeds was the earliest shipbuilder as a sea captain from Kent, England. John Leeds 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 with mast standing and fully rigged on the Groton Bank. The sturdy ships built in Groton made very profitable trades with the Caribbean Islands. Many ships lost lots due to storms but the profits were worth the risks.

American Revolution

Rough times were brought to Groton when the French and Indian War ended and the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 came into play. Once Parliament closed down the Boston port it crippled Groton’s commerce.

On September 6, 1781 a battle of the American Revolutionary War, The Battle of Groton Heights, was fought. The battle was fought between a small militia detachment led by William Ledyard and numerous British forces led by Benedict Arnold. No one at Fort Griswold had been expecting anything especially after there had been 6 years of false alarms. At sunrise a force of 1700 British regulars landed on both sides of the Thames Rivers mouth.

The fleet had sailed from Long Island the evening before and only a sudden shift in the wind prevented a surprise night attack-it was 9 a.m. before the transports could come close to shore to land the troops.

Benedict Arnold led an 800 man detachment which destroyed stockpiles of goods and naval stores. Benedict Arnold had been unaware of the orders given to spare most of the town. He was also unaware that one of the ships that they were to destroy was filled with gunpowder. Upon ignition the ship burst into flames and created an uncontrollable fire. The fire resulted in setting fire to 143 buildings which should have been spared.

Later on a British force of 800 men were moving towards Fort Griswold which was garrisoned by 164 militia and local men. The British sent a flag of surrender to Fort Griswold but William Ledyard refused and returned the flag. Therefore the British assaulted Fort Griswold.

The memorial for the Battle of Groton Heights was put up in 1830 for the 88 men and boys who were killed at Fort Griswold. Fort Griswold is currently the only standing intact memorial left from the Revolutionary War. The 135-foot-tall (41 m) monument has become the towns’ symbol and is now featured on the Groton town seal.

Early 19th century

Monument, erected in 1830, commemorates the American troops massacred by the British following the surrender of Fort Griswold in the Battle of Groton Heights during the American Revolution

Shortly after the Revolutionary War Groton started to re-establish its commercial activities. Shipbuilders began to build again; in 1784 Victory was launched; 1785 Success was launched; and in 1787 five sloops were built along with the 164-ton Nancy. Shipbuilders along the Mystic River were the busiest ship builders. These ships went on trips to Florida and the profits returned made Mystic the most thriving part of the town. Groton had been putting out many vessels but in 1723 came big shipbuilding. It was the largest merchantman built before the revolution weighing at, 700 tons. Ships were being sailed to Lisbon and England. But soon enough England and France were fighting. Since the United States took a neutral position and continued trade with both sides, profits were large. Between 1784 and 1800, 32 vessels were built in Groton. And then 28 to 1807 when business came to a sudden stop with the Embargo Act.

June 1812 had arrived and the United States declared war on Great Britain. We had a small navy yet most of the sea power was landlocked in the Thames River. This frightened the people in Groton for fear the repeated affairs on 1781. So they all fled inland for safety. For those that didn’t flee they demanded protection and militia. These residents built a fort on a hill of rock that held on 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.

August 12, 1814, the day after the British attacked Stonington, some men from Mystic lured a British barge to Groton Long Point which gave them 2,600 dollars in prize money. The men in Mystic acquired a sloop in which they later sold the cargo for 6,000 dollars. Seventeen Mystic men also tried out a new weapon, the spar torpedo, to rid themselves of the unwelcome guards. 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 the HMS Ramillies. On their first attempt the torpedo went into the water; on the second attempt the explosive caught on the 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 second among the world’s 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 dollars. 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 dollars.

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.

Late 19th century

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 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, during the Civil War, wanted 3 experimental ironclad steamers to be built in private shipyards to be used against the Confederacy's wooden fleet. A company in Groton was chosen to build and bomb-proof steamer designed by C.S. Bushnell of New Haven. 100 men were hired and a big shed was built so construction could continue rain or shine. The ship was ready for launching in 130 days. There were a lot of skeptics on whether the ship would corrode once it hit the salt water or sink but there were very few who thought 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 the 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 in Groton came to an end and moved up to Noank. One of the largest shipyards, Palmer Shipyard, had been 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 these giant ships 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.

Groton, Connecticut used to consist of present day Groton and Ledyard. The center of Groton used to be the intersection of Route 184 and Route 117. This was also where Groton’s first school, church, tavern and stagecoach shop were located. Ledyard separated from Groton to become its own town in 1836 and this area was no longer the center.

20th century

In the 20th century, the shipbuilding industry moved from the Mystic River to the Thames River. Electric Boat is the town's largest employer. During World War II, Electric Boat completed submarines every two weeks. In 1954, Electric Boat launched the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered submarine. Presently, the Nautilus is decommissioned and permanently berthed at the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum. 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, some people refer to Groton as the "Submarine Capital of the World". The National World War II Submarine Memorial - East including parts of USS Flasher (SS-249) is located in Groton. [2]

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.[3]


There are two major companies in Groton: the General Dynamics subsidiary 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.

Top employers

According to the Town's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[4] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Naval Submarine Base New London 10,150
2 General Dynamics Electric Boat 8,277
3 Pfizer 3,400
4 Town of Groton 947
5 1109th Aviation Classification and Repair Depot 466
6 City of Groton 266
7 Mystic Marriott 211
8 PCC Structurals 190
9 Pequot Health Center 169
10 Zachry Engineering 122


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 45.2 square miles (117.1 km²), of which, 31.3 square miles (81.1 km²) of it is land and 13.9 square miles (36.0 km²) of it (30.75%) is water.

Principal communities

The Griswold at Eastern Point, 1906

Other minor communities and geographic features are: Bluff Point, Eastern Point, Esker Point, Jupiter Point, Mumford Cove, West Pleasant Valley.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 4,302
1810 4,451 3.5%
1820 4,664 4.8%
1830 4,805 3.0%
1840 2,963 −38.3%
1850 3,743 26.3%
1860 4,450 18.9%
1870 5,124 15.1%
1880 5,128 0.1%
1890 5,539 8.0%
1900 5,962 7.6%
1910 6,495 8.9%
1920 9,227 42.1%
1930 10,770 16.7%
1940 10,910 1.3%
1950 21,896 100.7%
1960 29,937 36.7%
1970 38,244 27.7%
1980 41,062 7.4%
1990 45,144 9.9%
2000 39,907 −11.6%
Est. 2008 39,167 −1.9%
Population 1756 - 2000[5][6]

As of the census[7] of 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 population was spread out with 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[8]
Party Active voters Inactive voters Total voters Percentage
  Democratic 4,908 207 5,115 25.93%
  Republican 3,922 224 4,146 21.01%
  Unaffiliated 9,856 595 10,451 52.97%
  Minor parties 17 1 18 0.09%
Total 18,703 1,027 19,730 100%


There are many schools in the Groton area, from elementary schools to a college campus. There are several elementary schools in Groton, including Claude M. Chester Elementary, Charles Barnum Elementary, Mary Morrison Elementary, and others. There are three middle schools: Cutler, Fitch, and WestSide. There are two high schools: Fitch Senior High School and E.T. Grasso/Southeastern Technical High School. Groton hosts the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut.

Points of interest

Notable people, past and present

Town residents or others closely associated with Groton:

  • Robert G. Albion (1896–1983), an influential maritime historian, died in Groton.
  • Brian Anderson (b. 1976), a professional skateboarder originally from Groton.
  • Captain James Avery (1620–1700), Captain of the New London Company.
  • Doctor James Cook Ayer (1818–1878), patent medicine businessman and industrialist.
  • Ambrose Burfoot (b. 1946), marathoner who grew up in Groton.
  • Dave Campo, NFL coach, and a graduate of Fitch Senior High School.
  • Waightstill Avery (1741–1821), North Carolina politician, soldier in the American Revolutionary War, participant in a duel with Andrew Jackson.
  • Silas Deane (1737–1789), a delegate to the Continental Congress and the United States' first foreign diplomat, was born in Groton.
  • John J. Kelley (1930-2011) winner of the 1957 Boston Marathon, member of two U.S. Olympic Marathon teams.
  • Husband E. Kimmel (1882–1968) U.S. Navy rear admiral and commander of the Pacific Fleet, died in Groton.
  • William Ledyard (1738–1781), commander of Fort Griswold and killed in the attack on it, was born in Groton.
  • John Ledyard (1751–1789), an international explorer, was born in Groton.
  • Fran Mainella, National Park Service Director, 2001–2006, a graduate of Fitch Senior High School.
  • Paul Menhart, Former Toronto Blue Jays Pitcher, a graduate of Fitch Senior High School.
  • Lou Palazzi (1921–2007), an NFL player and umpire, was born in Groton.
  • Thomas Rogers, (1792–1856) builder of innovative locomotives, was born in Groton.
  • Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), the first American Episcopal bishop was born in Groton.
  • Elijah F. Smith, 8th Mayor of Rochester, New York
  • Tookoolito (1838–1876), famous Inuit guide to Arctic explorers, lived in Groton and is buried there in the Starr Burying Ground.
  • Cassin Young (1894–1942) U.S. Navy captain, awarded the Medal of Honor.

Pictures of Groton

See also

Media related to Groton, Connecticut at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates
  2. ^ "National World War II Submarine Memorial - East". California Center for Military History. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Kimball, Carol W. Historic Glimpses: Recollections of Days Past in the Mystic River Valley. Mystic, Connecticut: Flat Hammock Press, 2005.
  4. ^ Town of Groton CAFR. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  5. ^ Office of the Secretary of the State
  6. ^ U.S. Census Bureau
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 25, 2005" (PDF). Connecticut Secretary of State. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 

External links

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