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That's three centennials and a diamond jubilee

Yale may be 312 years old, but the town of New Haven goes back a good deal further: this month, the Elm City will celebrate the 375th anniversary of its founding with a series of events including lectures, an April 27 celebration on the Green, and a laser light sculpture called Night Rainbow emanating from the top of East Rock for four days.

It's a long way from April 24, 1638, the day that the settlers led by the Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton sailed up West Creek and made landfall. (West Creek is no more, but the spot where they disembarked is near the modern-day corner of George and College Streets.) The next day, Davenport led the first worship service in what would be—for the next 26 years—the New Haven Colony.

Yale didn't arrive in New Haven until 1716, but, as our "Old Yale" columnist (and New Haven city historian) Judith Ann Schiff explained a while back, the idea for a college in the colony went back as far as 1656.

Even if you didn't get immersed in the town and its history as a student, it's not too late to catch up. The story of Yale's hometown includes the appearance of a phantom ship in the harbor (a tale retold in verse by Longfellow), a British invasion answered by a septugenarian Yale president with a fowling rifle, and—my favorite—an incident at the beginning of the American Revolution in which local militia leader Benedict Arnold demanded the keys to the powder house so his men could march to Boston and join the fight. (This occurrence—a mildly heated bureaucratic dispute, really—is re-enacted every year on Powder House Day.)

Happy Birthday New Haven! We hope we look as good as you when we're 375.

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