Bristol is a suburban city located in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Hartford. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 60,477.[1] Bristol is best known as the home of ESPN, whose central studios are in the city. Bristol is also home to Lake Compounce, America's oldest continuously operating theme park. Bristol was known as a clock-making city in the 19th century, and is home to the American Clock & Watch Museum. Bristol's nicknames include the "Bell City", because of a history manufacturing innovative spring-driven doorbells, and the "Mum City", because it was once a leader in chrysanthemum production and still holds an annual Bristol Mum Festival.[3] In 2010, Bristol was ranked 84th on Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live".[4] In 2013, Hartford Magazine ranked Bristol as Greater Hartford's top municipality in the "Best Bang for the Buck" category.

Bristol is about 20 miles west of Hartford, 120 miles southwest from Boston, and approximately 100 miles northeast of New York City.


Incorporated in 1785, the town's name is a transfer from Bristol, in England.[5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.8 square miles (69.5 km2), of which 26.4 square miles (68.4 km2) is land and 0.39 square miles (1.0 km2), or 1.51%, is water.[1] The city contains several distinct sections, including Chippens Hill in the northwestern quarter of Bristol, Edgewood in the northeastern quarter, and Forestville, and in the southeastern quarter. The majority of Bristol's area is residential in character, though since 2008 there has been a push for commercial development in the city.[6] The city is part of the Naugatuck Valley Regional Planning Organization following the closure of the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency, the metropolitan planning organization for Bristol, New Britain, and surrounding towns for decades.[7]

Forestville was the hunting grounds of the Tunxis tribe until the 19th century.[8] The village was established in 1833 and named Forestville for its wooded surroundings. Forestville today has grown into a mini-metropolis of suburban neighborhoods and local businesses. The boundaries of Forestville go from the Plainville town line, south to the Southington town line, west up to the industrial development along Middle street and crosses King Street, including properties on Kingswood Drive and Bernside Drive, north up to Bristol Eastern High School, then north up to the south edge of properties on Louisiana Avenue, then to the west of properties on the west side of Brook Street and from there, goes up to commercial development along Farmington Avenue. Within the Forestville area, there are two subsections known as East Bristol and the Stafford District. Forestville village has a library (Manross), post office, meeting hall, community group (Forestville Village Association), fire station, cemetery, funeral home, two urban parks (Quinlan Veterans Park and Clock Tower Park), Pequabuck Duck Race, Memorial Day Parade, Summer Concert Night, Pumpkin Festival, and a railroad station (no longer in use). At one time all of Forestville had its own zip code.[9][10]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,462
1800 2,722 10.6%
1810 1,428 −47.5%
1820 1,362 −4.6%
1830 1,707 25.3%
1840 2,109 23.6%
1850 2,884 36.7%
1860 3,436 19.1%
1870 3,788 10.2%
1880 5,347 41.2%
1890 7,382 38.1%
1900 6,268 −15.1%
1910 9,527 52.0%
1920 20,620 116.4%
1930 28,451 38.0%
1940 30,167 6.0%
1950 35,961 19.2%
1960 45,499 26.5%
1970 55,487 22.0%
1980 57,370 3.4%
1990 60,640 5.7%
2000 60,062 −1.0%
2010 60,477 0.7%
Est. 2016 60,147 [2] −0.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]

As of the 2010 census, there were 60,477 people, 25,189 households, and 16,175 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,265.8 inhabitants per square mile (874.8/km²). There were 26,125 housing units at an average density of 985.6 per square mile (380.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 87.74% White, 3.84% African American, 9.64% Hispanic, 0.19% Native American, 1.94% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.72% from other races, and 2.54% from two or more races.

In 2000 there were 24,886 households in Bristol, of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.0% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.7% consisted of a sole resident who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38, and the average family size was 2.94.

The age diversity at the 2000 census was 23.2% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city in 2010 was $57,610. The per capita income for the city was $30,573. 10.5% of the population was living below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.7% of those under the age of 18 and 5.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 25, 2005[12]
Party Active Voters Inactive Voters Total Voters Percentage
Democratic 12,480 381 12,861 38.64%
Republican 5,531 206 5,737 17.24%
Unaffiliated 13,954 729 14,683 44.11%
Minor Parties 4 0 4 0.01%
Total 31,969 1,316 33,285 100%


Education in Bristol is conducted using seven elementary schools (grades kindergarten through five), two middle schools (grades six, seven and eight), and two high schools. In addition to these public schools, there are three private Catholic Schools, and one Lutheran School available. These add an additional three pre-kindergarten through grade 8 schools and one additional high school.[13]

A recent press release shows good scores on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, a standardized test which students take statewide in tenth grade. The report states that more than 87% of Bristol students scored at or above the proficient level in each of the content areas assessed.[14]

Schools in Bristol
Elementary schools Middle schools K-through-8 schools High schools
Bingham School (closed June 2010) [15] Chippens Hill Middle School[16] Saint Anthony School (Closed June 2016) Bristol Central High School[17]
Edgewood School[18] Memorial Boulevard Middle School (Closed June 2012)[19] Saint Matthew School [4] Bristol Eastern High School[20]
Greene-Hills School[21] Northeast Middle School[22] Saint Joseph School [5] St. Paul Catholic High School[6]
Hubbell School[23] Immanuel Lutheran School [7]
Ivy Drive School[24]
Jennings School (closed June 2012)[25]
Mountain View School[26]
O'Connell School (closed June 2012)[27]
South Side School[28]
Stafford School[29]

Recently, it has been proposed that the educational system of the city be redesigned. Because some of the schools are in historic buildings, new schools are being sought by the city. In addition, it has been proposed that the entire education system of the city be redesigned, eliminating the middle school category. In other words, all schools would be kindergarten through eighth grade or high school. The Bristol Board of Education's[30] appeals for support for this project have been met with mixed emotions.[31]

Public safety


Bristol's emergency medical services program has been provided by Bristol Hospital since 1977. It was designed to assume the responsibility previously carried by the Bristol Police Department. The Bristol Hospital's EMS are carried out using 6 emergency ambulances, 2 paramedic intercept vehicles and 4 wheelchair vans.[32]

Fire department

The Bristol, Connecticut Fire Department is a full-service fire department with five engine companies (or stations) and one tower company. The Bristol Board of Fire Commissioners consists of five members appointed by the Mayor who establish the primary policies of the fire department.[33]

Police department

The Bristol Police Department is a full-service police department with approximately 125 sworn officers. In addition to a vehicular patrol division, downtown Bristol is also policed by a bicycle division and walking beat officers. During any shift, there may be as many as 20 officers on duty, not including detectives and officers from other divisions.[34]



Since 2008, Bristol has begun another renovation of the downtown area. This has included a complete overhaul of a park in the center of the city. In addition, an outdated and underused mall from the 1970s was demolished in 2008.[35] Also, North Main Street was improved in 2008 by adding islands in the road, elegant street lighting and a brick median when the road was repaved.[36] In 2010, a preferred developer agreement was signed for a comprehensive $225 million redevelopment utilizing new urbanism strategies. A sharp decline in the availability of federal funding and a sluggish economy has stalled the project significantly. There has yet to be any groundbreaking as of the year 2017. Most of the city's redevelopment plans can be found in the city's "West End Study" and its 2015 Plan of Conservation and Development.

Blight Committee

In the 1990s, the Blight Committee was formed to enforce appearance laws, and even demolish[37] properties which it deems are unsightly and unkempt. This committee is tasked with ensuring that properties are not abandoned and that all properties are reasonably maintained.

In 2008, the Bristol Blight Committee was disbanded in order to make way for a new committee, the Bristol Code Enforcement Committee. This new committee has even greater powers and can now deal with both appearances and structural integrity issues of buildings in Bristol. The purpose of the committee is to streamline the process of enforcing the issues the former Blight Committee was tasked with. The law requires all structures to be free of "abandoned vehicles, nuisances, refuse, pollution and filth ... broken glass, loose shingles, holes, cracked or damaged siding, crumbling brick and other conditions 'reflective of deterioration or inadequate maintenance.'"[38]


In addition to the Mum Festival, Bristol holds an annual street festival with a car show and a family farms weekend at Minors Farm, Shepherd Meadows and Roberts Orchard, similar to that of Southington's apple festival, all of which are held around September.[3]

Mum Festival and Parade

The first Bristol Mum Festival began on July 7, 1962, and included a parade. The members of the Chamber of Commerce and City of Bristol officials met and completed a list of activities to take place over six days. They wanted to focus on the positive things that were occurring in Bristol. When the festival opened it was originally known as the "Fall Festival". In 1963 the chrysanthemum ("Mum") was also added to the festival's name. Prior to 1986 the nurseries in Bristol would produce over 80,000 mum plants.[citation needed] In 2014, city leaders elected to adopt a new "brand" for the city. "All Heart" became the new logo on letterheads and T-shirts and even the "Mum Festival" leaders were "encouraged" to adopt the new image at the festival and parade.

Other attractions

Bristol has many parks: Peck, Page, Rockwell, Bracket, Barnes Nature Center, Indian Rock, Forestville Memorial and many more.[39] The city is also home to Lake Compounce, the oldest continuously operated amusement park in North America, and to the New England Carousel Museum, the American Clock & Watch Museum, the Imagine Nation Children's Museum, Bristol Military Memorial Museum, Bristol Historical Society Museum and the Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum. The Harry Barnes Memorial Nature Center comprises 70 acres (280,000 m2) of forest and fields, with nature trails and an interpretive center.


Bristol has a summer collegiate baseball team called the Bristol Blues who play home games at Muzzy Field.

Muzzy Field is one of the oldest ballparks in the United States. In 2012 and 2013, the City of Bristol approved funding for a significant renovation project of the historic ballpark.

Bristol hosts the Little League New England and Mid-Atlantic Regional playoffs every August at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Center.[40][41][42]


The local daily newspaper is the Bristol Press, and town news is also featured in a small weekly called the Bristol Observer. It is also home to The Tattoo, one of the first on-line newspapers.[43]

Sister cities


Notable companies

The companies below are some of the most notable in Bristol. These, in addition to Bristol Hospital, are the largest private employers in the area.[44]

Associated Spring

Founded in 1857 and headquartered in Bristol, Barnes Group is a diversified international manufacturer of precision metal components and assemblies and a distributor of industrial supplies, serving a wide range of markets and customers. Barnes Group consists of three businesses with 2005 sales of $1.1 billion.[45]


ESPN houses its broadcast studios in Bristol on Middle Street. ESPN is the largest taxpayer to the City of Bristol.[46]

ESPN's former parent, Capital Cities Communications, once owned the local ABC affiliate WTNH, but sold it after acquiring ABC (which owned ESPN), and later merged with The Walt Disney Company.

Otis Elevator company

Though its beginnings were in Yonkers, New York, Otis Elevator Company possesses the tallest elevator test tower in the United States in Bristol. Located near ESPN and Lake Compounce, the 383-foot (117 m)-high tower is easily visible from the surrounding roads.[47][48]

Top employers

According to Bristol's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[49] the top employers in the city were:

# Employer # of Employees
1 ESPN 3,400
2 Bristol Hospital 1,750
3 City of Bristol & Board of Education 1,656
4 Stephen AutoMall Centre 200
5 IDEX Health & Science 200
6 Sheriden Woods Health Care Center 180
7 Quality Coils 170
8 Stop & Shop 150
9 Rowley Spring and Stamping 150
10 The Pines at Bristol 140

Notable people



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External links