Named in 2012 by Money Magazine as the 53rd best small U.S. city in which to live, the New Haven suburb of Hamden has it all–a rich history, breathtaking natural scenery, opportunities for year-round outdoor activities, the energy of a college town and the romance of classic New England vistas. The “Land of the Sleeping Giant” offers mountains, hills, parks and lakes, rivers, ponds and streams, making Hamden irresistible to anyone looking for an idyllic spot to raise a family.
Hamden boasts an involved community that includes the all-volunteer Hamden Symphony Orchestra, which performs year-round and offers a free summer concert series at Town Center Park.
Hamden’s history dates back to 1638, when it was purchased from the Quinnipiac Indians. Hamden remained part of New Haven until 1786, when its 1,400 residents voted to incorporate separately. The 33.3 square mile community is bordered by New Haven, Woodbridge, Bethany, Cheshire, Wallingford and North Haven.
Hamden is a great place for anyone who loves fishing, boating and swimming. Approximately half a square mile of the town’s surface area is composed of water in the forms of Lake Whitney, Lake Wintergreen, the Quinnipiac River, the Mill River and other lesser ponds and streams. The Mill River runs the length of town, widening above the Lake Whitney Dam into an evergreen-lined reservoir that contributes significantly to the Greater New Haven water supply.
Hamden also offers its residents an extensive network of trails, including the blue-blazed Quinnipiac Trail and Regicides Trail which crisscross the town’s laurel-covered ridges and spectacular cliffs, providing views to Long Island. Hillside streams form ravines and cascades like Wintergreen Falls, Sleeping Giant Falls and Wolcott Falls.
Hamden gets its nickname from Sleeping Giant, the town’s most dominant landmark. The long trap rock ridge features the 739-foot-high Sleeping Giant Tower (completed in 1936,) a Works Progress Administration (APA) project from the Great Depression. The main trail leading to the Tower (also called “the Castle” by locals) is a scenic, 1.6 mile hike each way that is a favorite of hikers and runners in good weather.
In addition to Hamden’s trails, the Farmington Canal Greenway runs through town, attracting walkers, bicyclists and roller bladers as well as joggers and runners.
Hamden’s many amenities include state-of-the-art sports facilities associated with the town’s high school, 17 parks and recreation areas and three golf courses. The town of approximately 62,000 was formed from distinct communities, resulting in neighborhoods that have retained a degree of distinct identity and architectural character. Some of Hamden’s better known neighborhoods include Augurville, Beecher Heights, Centerville, Dunbar Hill, Hamden Plains, Highwood, the Mix District, Mount Carmel, Spring Glen, State Street, Whitneyville and West Woods (Hamden Hills).
Hamden’s has had some famous residents throughout its history, including Eli Whitney, Thornton Wilder, Ernest Borgnine, Linda Greenhouse, Jean Harris, Bob Heussler, Jonathan Quick and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to name just a sampling.
Once a leader of the Industrial Revolution, the lion’s share of Hamden’s current economy is generated by the service industry. Progressive town leaders and an active Chamber of Commerce work together to keep Hamden a great place to do business.
Many Hamden residents are educators within Hamden or at nearby Yale University, Albertus Magnus, Southern Connecticut State University, University of New Haven or Gateway Community College. In addition to its high achieving public school system, Hamden hosts private schools such as the distinguished Hamden Hall Country Day School, Sacred Heart Academy, Saint Rita School, Saint Stephen School and West Woods Christian Academy. Paier College of Art has built a reputation for excellence in fine arts, and Quinnipiac University has earned national recognition for Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, which draws visitors and scholars from around the world to its Hamden campus.
Fine dining, casual and take-out establishments, gallery space to display the works of local artists, innumerable medical offices and laboratories, a lively retail shopping scene and a solid Yale-New Haven Hospital off-site presence are all a part of Hamden’s economic success.
CNN/ Money named Hamden to its list of America’s 100 best small cities in 2008, 2010 as well as 2012. In 2011 and 2012, Hamden was named one of the 100 best communities in the U.S. by America’s Promise Alliance for young people. Far families and singles looking for an active, environmentally welcoming and economically sound community in which to live, Hamden may be just the ticket.
To find out more about buying a home in Hamden, talk to a local real estate professional who can guide you toward making it your own great place to live.