HARTFORD is the capital of the state of Connecticut, in Hartford County. It is located on the Connecticut River, near the center of the state. As of the 2000 census, the population of the city was 121,578. It is the second largest city in the state, after Bridgeport.
Note: a 2003 Census Department estimate showed that New Haven (pop. 124,512) has 125 more residents than Hartford (pop. 124,387). This would make Hartford the third largest city in Connecticut and the 184th largest in the United States (New Haven is #183). The increase of nearly 3,000 people over three years is mostly due to some University of Hartford students being counted in Hartford instead of West Hartford.
Hartford is a city of bustling commerce. It is a major center of finance, government, law and education. It stands at the junction of two busy highways and its skyline is full of modern high-rise towers housing large corporations. Despite some crime/poverty issues that are greatly magnified by the media, Hartford is a melting pot with many cultural institutions such as the Charter Oak Cultural Center, The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts, The Wadsworth Atheneum (the oldest public art museum in the U.S.), the Tony award-winning Hartford Stage and the highly-renowned Artists Collective. Its main newspapers are the daily Hartford Courant and the weekly Hartford Advocate.
It is the home of Trinity College, Capital Community College, Hartford Seminary, the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut Law School & the University of Connecticut Business School in Downtown. The Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital was one of the first psychiatric hospitals in the nation. It is also the home of The American School for the Deaf, established in 1817 by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and deaf Frenchman Laurent Clerc, which is the oldest existing school for the deaf in North America.
Hartford is also a center of the insurance industry, and home to Colt Firearms and large corporations like United Technologies (the parent corporation for Pratt & Whitney, Otis Elevator and Sikorsky Aircraft), AETNA, The Hartford and others.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was originally from the Litchfield, Connecticut area, but settled in Hartford during the 1870s. Her house on Forest Street is now open to the public, right next door to her famous neighbor, Mark Twain. Twain moved to Hartford in 1874 and lived in Hartford for many years. The Mark Twain House is a national historic site. Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, wrote many of his most famous works in Hartford, including The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Roughing It, and his most read and controversial, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
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Dutch fur traders from New Netherland colony set up trade in the site as early as 1623, after Adriaen Block explored it in 1614. The Dutch named their post the 'Hope House' (Huys de Hoop). Prior to the Dutch arrival, the Indians who inhabited the area had called it Suckiaug. By 1633 Jacob van Curler had added a block house and palisade to the post while New Amsterdam sent a small garrison and a pair of cannons. The fort was abandoned by 1654, but its neighborhood in Hartford is still known as Dutch Point.
The first English settlers arrived in 1636. Thomas Hooker led 100 settlers with 130 head of cattle in a trek from Newtown (now Cambridge) in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and started their settlement just north of the Dutch fort. The settlement was originally called Newtown, but was changed to Hartford in 1637 to honor the English city of Hertford.
On December 15, 1814, the Hartford Convention was called to order in Hartford. Delegations from the five New England states, (Maine was still part of Massachusetts at that time) were sent to Hartford to discuss New England's possible secession from the United States.
During the early 1800s, the Hartford area was a center of abolitionist activity. The most famous abolitionist family was the Beechers. Rev. Lyman Beecher was an important Congregational minister known for his anti-slavery sermons. His daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote the famous Uncle Tom's Cabin, while her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was a noted clergymen who vehemently opposed slavery and supported the temperance movement and woman's suffrage. Beecher Stowe's sister, Isabella Beecher Hooker, was a leading member of the women's rights movement.
In 1860, Hartford was the site of the first "Wide Awakes," abolitionist supporters of Abraham Lincoln. These supporters organized torch-light parades that were both political and social events, often including fireworks and music, in celebration of Lincoln's visit to the city. This type of event caught on and eventually became a staple of mid to late-1800s campaigning.
In July 6, 1944, Hartford was the scene of one of the worst fire disasters in the history of the United States. The fire, which occurred at a performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus circus, became known as the Hartford Circus Fire.
After World War II, many residents of Puerto Rico moved to Hartford and even today Puerto Rican flags can be found on cars and buildings all over the city. Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Hartford in 1969, when he was 12 years old.
Lately, Hartford has been having problems as the population shrunk 11 percent during the 1990's. Only Flint, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Saint Louis and Baltimore experienced larger population losses during the decade.
Massive redevelopment projects are now under construction in the city. The largest is Adriaen's Landing along the Connecticut River. It will feature a 400,000 square foot convention center which will be the largest between New York City and Boston and an attached 22-story Marriott Hotel (both due to open spring 2005). An outdoor boardwalk will connect the convention center with Constitution Plaza and the recently developed Riverfront Recapture on the Connecticut River. In the years to come the Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration with approximatly 150,000 square feet will open at Adriaen's Landing. A master plan has been created by the board of trustees and Cesar Pelli of New Haven, CT has been chosen as the architect for the project.
Another project, Hartford 21, will result in the New England's tallest residential tower at 36 stories which will be connected to the existing Civic Center Arena. The Civic Center which was built in 1975 is still operating and hosts shows and concerts each year in addition to being the home of the Hartford Wolf Pack Hockey and the UCONN women's and men's basketball teams. "Hartford 21" will include 262 residential units, a video screen flashing on Trumball Street (similar to those in Times Square, New York City) and shops, restaurants and public spaces. Attached to the other side of the Civic Center the newly renovated, 4 Star Hartford Hilton Hotel reopened recently with 392 rooms on 22 floors with 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel also includes a rooftop pool and two restaurants: Element 15 (bar and lounge) and Morty and Ming's (Combination delicatessen and traditional Chinese cuisine)
In addition to the Hartford 21 apartment complex there are also many other apartments recently finished, under construction or in the planning stages. The "Trumball By The Park" apartment complex by Bushnell Park is under construction with 100 apartments and ground floor retail space. The former SNET building also by Bushnell park was recently transformed into luxury apartments. On Main Street the former Sage Allen Department Store will be transformed into loft style apartments that will house students from the University of Hartford and Saint Joseph's College. In addition there are also many other apartment building, multi-family homes and single family homes being renovated.
Also in the works is a major multi-million dollar renovation of the Hartford Public Library and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The Atheneum also plans to expand into the Hartford Times Building near the Adriaen's Landing site. The Old State House (the oldest in the nation) recently underwent a major refurbishing project and has been returned to its original splendor. Talks are also in the works for establishing a major bus route between Hartford and New Britain to further unify the region.
Hartford and the Greater Hartford Area have many different kinds of housing conditions and social statuses for a city and area of such a small size. In Hartford's West End near Elizabeth Park and the University of Hartford there are many estates including the Governor's Mansion, while some portions of the city are decayed, notably parts of the North End, such as Albany Avenue east of Scarborough Street, and a good chunk of the Northeast neighborhood around Main Street. Violent crime is more prevalent in that part of Hartford but police and local activists have made huge strides to curb its spreading. The southwestern part of the city is more suburban-like. Many property crimes take place in the southern part (around Trinity College) and the Frog Hollow area (just north of Trinity College). Parts of Park Street, and the Asylum Hill area (east of St. Francis Hospital and west of the Hartford Insurance) have also been known for high crime. With this in mind there are many thriving neighborhoods in these sections of the city. The Park Street neighborhood is home to hundreds of thriving Hispanic businesses and Park Street itself gives this area of the city a Chinatown feel. There have been many measures taken by the Hartford Police Department and local community organizations to keep the crime down in the neighborhoods. Hartford's suburbs are comprised of middle working class suburbs and extremely wealthy suburbs that both play an important role in the city as many residents commute to the city for work.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 121,578 people, 44,986 households, and 27,171 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,711.8/km² (7,025.5/mi²). There are 50,644 housing units at an average density of 1,129.6/km² (2,926.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 27.72% White, 38.05% Black or African American, 0.54% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 26.51% from other races, and 5.44% from two or more races. 40.52% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 44,986 households out of which 34.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.2% are married couples living together, 29.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% are non-families. 33.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.58 and the average family size is 3.33.
In the city the population is spread out with 30.1% under the age of 18, 12.6% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $24,820, and the median income for a family is $27,051. Males have a median income of $28,444 versus $26,131 for females. The per capita income for the city is $13,428. 30.6% of the population and 28.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 41.0% of those under the age of 18 and 23.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Central Business District/Downtown
Downtown is Hartford's primary business district. Downtown is home to Saint Paul Travler's, The Hartford Financial Services Incorporated, The Hartford Steam Boiler and Phoenix Insurance. Downtown is also home to the Hartford City Hall, the Hartford Public Library, the Old State House, the Wadsworth Athneum, The Travlers Tower, Bushenell Park, and the State Capitol and Legislative Office Complex. For higher education Capitol Community College is located along Main Street in the former G. Fox and Company Building.
The Asylum Hill neighborhood was originally known as "Lords Hill". The Asylum Hill neighborhood is home to the Asylum Hill Congregational Church (organized in 1864), The Trinity Episcopal Church, and Saint Joseph's Cathedral (dedicated 1892) There are also many insurance companies that were or are still located in the Asylum Hill area such as the Hartford Fire Insurance Company (now the Hartford Insurance Group, Rossia Insurance Company (now Northeastern Insurance Company, and AETNA Insurance Company which still remains as a major fixture along Farmington Avenue. Also along Farmington Avenue are the homes of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe which are now museums.
The West End neighborhood which runs from a little bit past the Mark Twain house over to the West Hartford border was mostly farmland until 1870. During the 1910's many two and three story homes were built which gives the area more of a suburban feel. Elizabeth Park in the West End was created when in 1895 Charles N. Pond gave his estate to the Hartford Parks Commission which created the park and named it in honor of his wife. The park boasts a playground, softball field, and other recreational facilities in addition to views of the downtown skyline. For higher education the UCONN School of Law and the Hartford Seminary are located in the West End. Part of Prospect Avenue boasts mansions that were built to intrigue the architectural mind including the Governor's Mansion. Mansions can also be found along Scarborough Street including the former residence of A. Everett Ausin (Director of Wadsworth Atheneum from 1927–1944).
The neighborhood is located just south of downtown with the Connecticut River and I-91 running at the eastern end of the neighborhood. The area was home to the Colts Firearm Factory which was started by Sammuel Colt who invented the automatic revolver. Along with building a factory Mr. Colt also made a village with houses, a library and recreational activities so that his employees could be close to work. Armsmear which was the Colt's estate was given to the city as Colt's Park after Mr and Mrs Colt's death. Currently a developer is in the process of renovating the whole facility to create office space and apartments for completion in 2006/2007. The Capewell Horesenail Company was also in the area. In 1881 George Capewell invented a machine to make horseshoe nails.
South Green is home to Barnard Park in honor of Henry Barnard whose home is located on Main Street. Congress Street in the neighborhood is a historic district with many Greek Revival and Italianate homes. Hartford Hospital and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center are also located in South Green.
Located at the southeastern corner of the city the area is home to many industrial and commercial businesses. The neighborhood is home to the Regional Market which is a 32 acre (129,000 m²) facility with 185,000 of warehouse space. Brainard Field along I-91 serves small aircrafts and offers flight instruction. The Hartford Electric Light Company which started in 1921 is still operational and owned by CT Light and Power. One of the Metropolitan District Water pollution Control Plants is located in the south meadows. Also the Mid-Connecticut Resource Recovery Facility which opened in 1987 and is on 57 acres (231,000 m²) is located in the area.
Hartford's dependence on the railroad has decreased since the automobile but still at One Union Place is the Hartford train station which still operates. Riders through Amtrak can take the train anywhere in the northeast they desire such as New Haven, New York, Boston, Providence, Washington DC, etc. The station is also a major bus station serving numerous bus companies throughout the country as Hartford is a mid way point between the popular New York to Boston route.
Currently there are preliminary plans to create a New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Commuter Rail Line with stations in in communities close to I-91.
Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut is twenty minutes north of Hartford. The airport serves Hartford and Springfield. The airport has just undergone major renovations including receiving a new terminal.
Brainard Airport in Hartford off of I-91 South close to Wethersfield serves charter flights and more local flights.
Tweed New Haven Regional Airport is an up and coming airport that has two carriers and is looking at attracting a third.
In New York City there is also LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport.
Highways and Streets of Interest
In the Greater Hartford area there are two major interstates: I-84 and I-91. I-84 runs from Danbury, on the New York border, to Union, on the Massachusetts border. I-91 starts in New Haven off of I-95 and continues all the way up into Canada along the Connecticut River. In downtown Hartford the two highways intersect which is a great aspect to the city.
As with many highways there are traffic concerns because at the moment Hartford is more of a "9–5" kind of town which means there are thousands of people who at the start of the workday clog area highways. For the traveler who wants to stay out of delays keep in mind I-84 experiences traffic from Farmington through Hartford and into East Hartford and Manchester during the rush hour. Outside of Hartford expect delays going westbound if you are east of the Connecticut and delays going eastbound if you are west of the city. In the city itself expect traffic in both directions. I-91 has significant delays usually south of the city in Wethersfield and Rocky Hill and north of the city in Windsor and Bloomfield.
Besides the two major interstates running into Hartford there is Route 2 which runs from Norwich in the southeastern part of the state up to East Hartford where it then intersects with I-84. There are delays through Glastonbury and East Hartford in the morning hours.
South of the city Route 5 and 15 which is known as the Berlin Turnpike which before I-91 carried people from Hartford to New Haven. The Berline Turnpike is an array of department stores, restaurants, and offices in Berlin, Newington and Wethersfield. In Wethersfield it becomes more of a highway that intersects with I-91 and I-84. Past Berlin and into Meriden the Berline Turnpike becomes the Merrit Parkway which runs parallel to I-95 to the New York border.
West of Hartford Route 44 runs from West Hartford up into the hills of Litchfield County and eventually with a few correct turns you can end up in New York or Mass.
In Hartford there are many important streets:
Farmington Avenue runs from downtown Hartford through West Hartford and into Farmington. In Hartford it is an array of apartment buildings and family owned businesses and is mostly a residential area. Just off of Farmington Avenue is the UCONN Law School. In West Hartford Farmington Avenue is one of the streets that is part of West Hartford Center; an outdoor array of upscale shops, restaurants and offices.
Franklin Avenue in the city's south end is known as Little Italy. Although many Italians have moved just over the border to Wethersfield, Newington and Rocky Hill there is still a major Italian presence in the city. There are numerous Italian bakeries along Franklin Avenue. Connecticut is the state with the largest percentage of Italians living in it outranking Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. One of Hartford's sister cities is Florida which is a small town outside of Siracusa (Population 350,000) on the island of Sicily in Italy.
Asylum Avenue runs parallel to Farmington Avenue but has a quieter and more suburban and residential feel to it. Along Asylum Avenue there are numerous offices and apartment buildings as well as some private homes. Saint Frances Hospital and the UCONN Law School are close to Asylum Avenue also,
Albany Avenue which runs through Hartford's North End and into West Hartford is actually a thriving area. There are many multi-family homes and family owned businesses as well. The University Of Hartford plans to relocate the Hartt School of Music to a 7.2 acre (29,000 m²) parcel not far from the West Hartford border but still in Hartford at the former Thomas Cadiallac site.
Main Street in Hartford runs right through the central business district and then towards Hartford Hospital and eventually Wethersfield. Although presently the street may look subpar there is numerous work going on. The long vacant G. Fox Building which was a landmark Hartford department store recently reopened after being renovated and is now Capital Community College. A few doors down is the vacant Sage Allen Department store which is being transformed into loft style apartments and across the street the former American Airlines Building will also become apartments. Beside those buildings there are numerous lage office buildings on the street.
Points of interest
- Bushnell Park – Rolling lawns, fountains, a lake, a historic carousel make this Downtown park a beautiful oasis that is just below the state capital and legislative office complex
- Bushnell Center for Performing Arts – The best of Broadway in Connecticut's backyard!
- Charter Oak Cultural Center
- Connecticut State Capitol – This absolutely huge and stunning Gothic-inspired Castle features many statues on its exterior. The gold leafed dome shines brilliantly from this unique building soaring from Bushnell Park's acropolis (pictured above)
- Colt Arms Factory and Park – Look for the blue and gold dome that tops the building The complex is currently being redeveloped and renovated from top to bottom and when finished will feature office space, apartments, and retail space.
- "Armsmear" – The Colt family estate
- Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration – The new 150,000 square foot facility will be built along the Connecticut River in Columbus Boulevard near the new convention center.(Science Center set to open 2007+)
- Connecticut Convention Center – The new 450,000 square foot convention center is under construction and overlooks the Connecticut River and the central business district of Hartford. Attached to the center is a new 409 room 22 story Marriott Hotel (Both set to open June, 2005)
- Constitution Plaza – Constitution Plaza was built in the early 1970's and is a very well known redevelopment project throughout the country. The complex is comprised of numerous office buildings, underground parking, a restaurant and outdoor courtyards along with a broadcasting studio. During the holiday season the area is filled Christmas lights and the annual Taste of Hartford celebration is held here. The Plaza passes over the highway and connects the city to the Connecticut River
- Elizabeth Park & Rose Garden – Rose garden is one of the best in the country. Located on the Hartford/West Hartford border there is also a restaurant and amazing skyline views from the park
- Harriet Beecher Stowe House & Research Center The former home of Harriet Beecher Stowe is now a museum located in the city's west end on Farmington Avenue near the Mark Twain House.
- Hartford Civic Center – The Civic Center was built in 1978 and still hosts numerous concerts and shows each year. The Civic Center is also home to The Hartford Wolf Pack Hockey and UCONN Basketball. The new 36 story apartment complex is attached to the Civic Center and will also include retail and entertainment space. Full construction completed in late 2005, early 2006
- Isham-Terry House- The house was built in 1854 for the residence of a business man. The house is designed in an Italian Villa style.
- The Mark Twain House- Home of the famed writer Sammuel Clemens is now a museum located in the city's west end on Farmington Avenue.
- Old State House – This State House was the first in America and has recently been restored to its original splendor. A gold-leafed dome rises from its top. The State House sits facing the Connecticut River in Downtown
- Pope Park, Hartford, Connecticut
- Riverfront Recapture and Park – This ambitious project resulted in a reestablishment of the connection between downtown and the Connecticut River. A white triangle-shaped dome covers one of the performing stages, and bike trails, walking trails and playing fields cover the area. The boat launch for a Connecticut River tour is also located here. If you desire a walk a walkway is available to walk over the Connecticut River to East Hartford'
- Saint Thomas Seminary- The seminary is located on 80 acres (324,000 m²) in Bloomfield. The seminar is three miles north of Hartford and just down the road from the University of Hartford. The seminary opened in 1930 and its beautiful campus awes with rolling greens and Gothic-inspired buildings.
- Trinity College – The liberal arts college which was founded in 1823 has more than 2,100 students and plays a vital role in the city of Hartford. One of the most well known assets to the city is the Learning Corridor which is a magnet school. The college is consistently ranked as one of the best liberal arts colleges in America
- University of Connecticut Business School – Vibrant new campus in Downtown
- University of Connecticut Law School – The leafy cmapus is located just off Farmington Avenue and includes an extensive, large Gothic-inspired library
- University of Hartford – The University which was founded in 1877 sits on 340 acres (1.4 km²) with a 13 acre (53,000 m²) campus on Asylum Avenue. There are more then 7,200 students and 86 undergraduate majors. Don't forget to visit the beautiful magnolias blossom in the spring
- Hartt School of Music at University of Hartford – Ranked one of the best in the nation
- Wadsworth Atheneum of Art – Oldest Art Museum in America
Because of Hartford's diverse population the city has numerous sister cities (aka twin cities) that are located throughout the globe. They include:
Floridia, Italy: A small suburb of Siracusa (Pop: 350,000) that is located on the southeastern coast of the island of Sicily. The greater Hartford Area is home to hundreds of families with Sicilian descent.
Herford, England: The town has a population of about 24,000 and serves and has many commuters to London. The town has a country feel but is also only 20 miles north of London.
Thessaloniki, Greece: The city is the second largest in Greece (Pop: 1,000,000) and one of the oldest in Europe.
Manguallde, Portugal: The small town in northern Portugal is very close to the Serra de Estrela Mountains
Caguas, Puerto Rico: The town is a 1/2 hour from San Juan and is in the eastern central region of Puerto Rico. The town founded in 1775 has one of the best economies in Puerto Rico.
Morant Bay, Jamaica
Freetown, Sierra Leone: Located in Western Africa bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. Sierra Leone's total population is more than 5,800,000.
New Ross, Ireland: A port city in Southeast Ireland that is two hours from Dublin. New Ross itself has a population of about 6,500.
In the city itself there are two major hospitals: Hartford Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital. Hartford Hospital was started in 1854 and is located in the city's south end. The main hospital in Hartford sits on 65 acres of land. In addition Hartford Hospital includes the Institute of Living (near the hospital), The Connecticut Children's Medical Center (on the hospital site), The Mid State Medical Center in Meriden, five walk in medical centers, and is a primary affiliate with the UCONN school of medicine and dentistry for teaching purposes.
Saint Francis Hospital was founded in 1897 and is located closer to the city's west end and the suburbs of West Hartford and Bloomfield. The Hospital has a total of 617 beds. The hospital is the largest Catholic Hospital in New England. Saint Francis affiliated with Mount Saini Hospital (Hartford, CT) in 1990 and completed a full merger in 1995. In addition there are four Saint Francis Care Medical Offices in the area. Like Hartford Hospital, Saint Francis is associated with the UCONN school of medicine and dentistry for teaching purposes.
Additional hospitals in the greater Hartford area include Manchester Memorial Hospital in Manchester, Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Meriden, Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, and Rockville General Hospital in Vernon/ Rockville.
- Official Hartford website
- [http://www.cceda.state.ct.us/index.htm/ Capital City Economic Development Authority
- [http://enjoyhartford.com/index.cfm/ Hartford Convention and Visitor's Bureau
- Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks, History, Neighborhoods
- The Hartford Courant
- Hartford Seminary
- Saint Thomas Seminary
- Institute of Living
- United Technologies
- Mark Twain House
- Harriet Beecher Stowe House
- Isham Terry House
- Colt Firearms
- Hartford Civic Center
- University of Connecticut Law School
- University of Hartford
- Trinity College
- Capital Community College
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