Connecticut’s model through most of its history has been to “hive off” towns, create new towns in areas that had been part of other towns, said state historian emeritus Walt Woodward. Thus, fewer large towns, more small towns.
For example, West Hartford, East Hartford and Manchester were once part of Hartford. East Hartford broke off Hartford in 1783, and then the “Orford Parish” broke off from East Hartford in 1823 to become Manchester. West Hartford remained part of Hartford until 1854.
Had those communities all remained part of Hartford, the capital city today would have a population of nearly 300,000. This would put it in the population range of Madison, Wisc., Buffalo, N.Y. and Reno, Nev. and make it the second-largest city in New England, surpassing Worcester’s 206,000 and Providence’s 190,000.
If just Hartford and East Hartford merged, the city of 171,000 would be far and away the largest in the state, topping Bridgeport’s 150,000.