History of Bristol's Development

Bristol’s Pro-Development History 

"This is a manufacturing town, and the inhabitants are distinguished by their enterprise and industry."

- John Warner Barber, CT Historical Collections (1836)


Growing out of the clock making industry, Bristol was truly the heart of America’s industrial revolution. The enterprise and industry of the city's inhabitants remains the same today. Bristol has consistently supported development. Local government is stable and accessible with a tradition of bipartisan support.


In 1979, Bristol helped the fledgling ESPN, which today is the world’s largest sports broadcasting cable channel with more than 3,500 employees. Some of our largest private employers are:                   

  • Associated Spring                    
  • Bauer Aerospace                    
  • Bristol Hospital                    
  • ClarkDietrich Building Systems                    
  • Covanta 
  • Eastern Plastics                    
  • Firestone Building Products                    
  • Otis Elevator                    
  • Theis Steel 

In recent years, Bristol developed one of the most successful industrial parks in Connecticut. More than 800 people are employed there in 23 businesses.


Bristol's proximity to other cities including Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury means that professional sports and cultural activities are always nearby, such as the Watch and Clock Museum. The New England Carousel Museum is dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, and preservation of operating carousels and carousel memorabilia and the creation of new carousel material, for the education and pleasure of the general public. Bristol is home to Lake Compounce (founded 1846), the country's oldest continuously operating amusement park. Bristol is also the gateway to the Litchfield Hills, one of Connecticut's most beautiful tourist areas.

Recreational opportunities abound. With swimming or sailing in the Atlantic Ocean or skiing on Vermont slopes only an hour away, your family can have the time of their lives. Within minutes, you could be enjoying the fall foliage in the Litchfield Hills, playing at Lake Compounce, antiquing, exploring our historical sites and museums, or walking or riding through one of our beautiful parks.

Bristol is a great place to raise and educate a family.

Discover what makes Bristol great--from our historic Downtown district and Federal Hill, to the quaint village of Forestville, there's a setting for everyone. Learn more about Bristol's neighborhoods here: Life in Bristol