Sixteen miles south of Hartford, English settlers incorporated a town in 1651 called by its Native American name, Mattabeseck (or Mattabesett). They were among the many tribes along the Atlantic coast who spoke Algonquian languages. The colonists renamed the settlement the Middletown in 1653. Middletown served as an important sailing port for trade and transportation along the Connecticut River. Several manufacturing companies flourished including gun and machine makers. The municipality became a city in 1923.