The town is located on the east bank of the Connecticut River, directly across from Hartford, Connecticut. The town includes the neighborhoods of Burnside and Hockanum. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.5 km2), of which 18.0 square miles (46.6 km2) is land and 0.73 square miles (1.9 km2), or 3.93%, is water.
When the Connecticut Valley became known to Europeans around 1631, it was inhabited by what were known as the River Tribes — a number of small clans of Native Americans living along the Great River and its tributaries. Of these tribes the Podunks occupied territory now lying in the towns of East Hartford and South Windsor, and numbered, by differing estimates, from sixty to two hundred bowmen. They were governed by two sachems, Waginacut and Arramamet, and were connected in some way with the Native Americans who lived across the Great River, in what is now Windsor. The region north of the Hockanum River was generally called Podunk; that south of the river, Hockanum; but these were no certain designations, and by some all the meadow along the Great River was called Hockanum.
In 1659, Thomas Burnham (1617–1688) purchased the tract of land now covered by the towns of South Windsor and East Hartford from Tantinomo, chief sachem of the Podunk Indians. Burnham lived on the land and later willed it to his nine children. The town of Hartford once included the land now occupied by the towns of East Hartford, Manchester, Bolton, Vernon, and West Hartford. In 1783, East Hartford became a separate town, which included Manchester in its city limits until 1823.
As of  2010, there were 51,252 people, 20,206 households, and 12,830 families residing in the town. The population density was 3,200 people per square mile (1,250/km2). There were 21,328 housing units at an average density of 1,180.2 per square mile (455.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 38.4% non-Hispanic White, 25.9% Black or African American, 0.03% Native American, 5.9% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28.3% of the population.
There were 20,206 households out of which 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.5% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 30.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the town, the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $41,424, and the median income for a family was $50,540. Males had a median income of $36,823 versus $29,860 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,763. About 8.1% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 30, 2007|
|Party||Active Voters||Inactive Voters||Total Voters||Percentage|
East Hartford is home to the headquarters of Pratt & Whitney, part of the United Technologies conglomerate. The manufacturing plant takes up a significant amount of East Hartford's area, and at its peak, it employed tens of thousands of people;  however, currently, it only employs about 7,621. East Hartford also contains a Coca-Cola bottling plant, located on Main Street. The city is dotted with industrial and suburban office parks, and in the early 2000s, urban planners strategically situated a regional stadium, Rentschler Stadium (construction completed September 2003), and a hunting and camping focused department store, Cabela's, on the then vacant former Pratt & Whitney company airfield, Rentschler Field.
According to East Hartford's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Pratt and Whitney||9,000|
|2||Town of East Hartford||1,698|
|5||Bank of America||550|
|6||United Technologies Corporation Research Center||515|
|7||Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center||438|
|8||Connecticut Bureau of Enterprise Systems and Technology||397|
|11||Connecticut Natural Gas||263|
|12||Red Thread, a subsidiary of Steelcase||175|
|13||Connecticut Judicial Branch||130|
Wickham Park, located in East Hartford and Manchester, features Oriental gardens, fountains, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas, softball fields, and an aviary. The west side of the park offers a scenic view of East Hartford and the skyline of Hartford across the Connecticut River and is a popular site for weddings. It also has a very popular sledding hill in the winter.