The history of the airport took roots in 1940 when the State of Connecticut acquired the 690-hectare land. When the preparation to the war began, the area was given to the U.S. Army in 1941. The airfield received the name of 24-year-old Lt. Eugene M. Bradley of Antlers, Oklahoma.

The civil use of the airport started in 1947 when both the first Eastern Air Lines commercial flight and first international cargo operation took place on the territory of the airport. The same year the older smaller Hartford-Bradley Airport was replaced to the Hartford's primary airport.

In 1950, the airport reached its record by the number of passengers carried and flights served. Approximately 108.348 passengers were served that year. Later in 1952, the new Murphy Terminal was constructed.

The airport carried about 500.238 passengers during 1960. Therefore, the expansion of the terminal was a logical way of increasing the efficiency of the airfield. In 1971, an International Arrivals wing was constructed.

In 1979, the eastern part of the airport was severely damaged by the ‘Windsor Locks' tornado. Some of the worst damage is still illustrated at the New England Air Museum located on the territory of the airport. New Terminal A and Bradley Sheraton Hotel were constructed in 1986.

In 2002, a new International Arrivals Building was constructed west of the Terminal B.  It is mainly serving Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines flights to Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Cancun. All other international arrivals are served throughout the IAB, while, international departures will be hosted at the existing terminal building.

All airlines operating today began their operations in 2007 when Northwest Airlines has served its first flight from Hartford to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.