It was their hope to set up a theological community with the government more closely linked to the church than the that in Massachusetts, and to exploit the area's excellent potential as a port.
The Quinnipiacs, who were under attack by neighboring Pequots, sold their land to the settlers in return for protection.
In 1664 New Haven became part of the Connecticut Colony when the two colonies were merged under political pressure from England, according to folklore as punishment for harboring the three judges (in reality, done in order to strengthen the case for the takeover of nearby New Amsterdam, which was rapidly losing territory to migrants from Connecticut).
In 1637 a small party of Puritans reconnoitered the New Haven harbor area and wintered over.
In April 1638, the main party of five hundred Puritans who had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the leadership of the Reverend John Davenport and London merchant Theophilus Eaton sailed into the harbor.
The area was briefly visited by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block in 1614.
Dutch traders set up a small trading system of beaver pelts with the local inhabitants, but trade was sporadic and the Dutch did not settle permanently in the area.
The city served as co-capital of Connecticut from 1701 until 1873, when sole governance was transferred to the more centrally located city of Hartford. New Haven had the first public tree planting program in America, producing a canopy of mature trees (including some large elms) that gave New Haven the nickname "The Elm City".
New Haven has since billed itself as the "Cultural Capital of Connecticut" for its supply of established theaters, museums, and music venues. Before Europeans arrived, the New Haven area was the home of the Quinnipiac tribe of Native Americans, who lived in villages around the harbor and subsisted off local fisheries and the farming of maize.
Clockwise from top: downtown New Haven skyline, East Rock Park, summer festivities on the New Haven Green, shops along Upper State Street, Five Mile Point Lighthouse, Harkness Tower, and Connecticut Hall at Yale.
It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in New Haven County, Connecticut, and is part of the New York metropolitan area.
It is the second-largest city in Connecticut (after Bridgeport), with a population of 129,779 people as of the 2010 United States Census.