One of the most interesting way to view a city’s history is through its maps. Often reading a history gives you someones point of view now looking back, where maps over the years gives a snapshot on the community. This is very true with New Britain.
One thing that is interesting when you look at maps is you get the feel the New Britain, surprisingly is a new community in Connecticut. The state register reports that New Britain was incorporated in 1850 as the 147th town in the state (there are 167 total towns and cities in Connecticut today). It also references that it was named as a Parish in 1754 from Great Britain. However, the maps tell a different story about its naming and gives a better feel of how young Great Britain is.
A map from 1625 shows that the nearest indian villages to New Britain where the Pyquag Village (about where Wethersfield is). New Britain was just slightly west of the Quinnipian-Sucklauk Path ( just a little bit northeast of the “S” in Tunxis).
A map from 1758 shows a very large Farmington, with several parish’s including New Cambridge (Plainville), Kensington, Southington and Quebek. Several interesting things can be learned from this map.
Firstly, you an see that many of the area towns where originally part of Farmington, including the towns later known as Avon, Bristol, Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. New Britain at the time was identified as Quebek. The name Quebek in various formats such as Quebeck and Quebeek, was the only label you saw for todays New Britain, if it was labelled at all.
A year after the Declaration of Independence, Farmington was still in tack, with Quebeek Parish still displayed.
A clearer map from 1780 with town and county borders more clearly defined shows Quebeek clearly within the town of Farmington. Also you can see from the small section shown and even more thougoughly in the full map of Connecticut that Middletown was in Hartford County. That was because there was no Middlesex County at that time.
By this 1792 map Farmington had begun to be broken up with Southington, and Berlin (which included New Britain) showed their own distinct town borders. Berlin also became more ragged as it added part of Wethersfield and Middletown to its eastern border.
Even after splitting from Farmington and becoming part of Berlin, New Britain was still identified as Quebeck as shown by this 1796 map.
Sometime between the above 1796 map and the following 1831 map Quebek was dropped and New Britain as used to identify the area.
The following 1855 map, only 5 short years after New Britain was incorporated as its own town you can see the lines already drwawn in for Borough of New Britain, with the Hartford – Providence raiload bisecting it.
The Borough of New Britain was incorporated as a city in 1870. The following map shows the streets of New Britain from 1875.
As can be seen for all its size and population New Britain is a relative new comer to Connecticut, with the name itself only been in general use for less then 150 years.