Hartford: Recreation

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Hartford: Recreation


Downtown Hartford combines Yankee colonialism with a modern business atmosphere. Historic Hartford attractions include the State Capitol atop Capital Hill. With its gold dome, gray Connecticut marble walls, and soaring arches, the capitol, which opened in 1879, is considered an architectural gem. The state legislature continues to meet in the building's chambers. Inside, memorabilia of Connecticut history include Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette's camp bed, Civil War battle flags, ships' figureheads, and tomb-stones. The Old State House, the oldest in the nation, was designed by noted architect Charles Bulfinch and has been completely restored. The homes of authors Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe have been restored and contain many original furnishings. The Butler-McCook Homestead offers a view of Victoriana, complete with paintings, silver, toys, and a backyard garden. The Isham Terry house, built in 1854 for a Hartford businessman, was designed in the Italian Vila style; its fixtures and decor have been carefully preserved. The bell in the steeple at First Church of Christ (1807) contains portions of the bell brought to Hartford by English colonists fleeing Massachusetts in 1636. Adjacent to the church is the Ancient Burying Ground, where lie the city's early leaders near Carl Andre's controversial 36-boulder "Stone Field" sculpture. Self-guided walking tours of Hartford's historic sites are available.

The home of a Hartford insurance company, The Travelers Tower, is New England's oldest skyscraper. A landmark since 1936, the tower offers a panoramic view of the Connecticut River Valley. The observation deck is open to visitors on weekdays. Aetna Insurance's headquarters on Farmington Avenue is the largest colonial brick structure in the United States. St. Joseph's Cathedral, with its huge stained-glass windows, is an example of contemporary ecclesiastical architecture. The Phoenix is housed in a boat-shaped structure thought to be the world's only two-sided building. The glass and steel structure is now connected to downtown's Riverfront Plaza. The Menczer Museum of Medicine & Dentistry displays instruments and medications used for the past two centuries. Pictures and artifacts pertaining to the 134-year history of the Police Department are on exhibit at the Hartford Police Museum.

Bushnell Park, adjacent to the state capitol, boasts a 1914 carousel with a Wurlitzer organ and 48 intricately carved and painted wooden horses. The park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, is reputed to be America's oldest public park. Within the park is the Pump House Gallery, site of many summer concerts; Veterans' Memorial Arch; Corning Fountain, celebrating the Native-American heritage; and a number of sculptural pieces. "Stegosaurus," a statute by Alexander Calder, is located between the Wadsworth Atheneum and City Hall. Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens contains thousands of common and rare plants, some in carefully landscaped beds and others in greenhouses. Another popular tourist attraction is the Connecticut River cruise aboard a restored steam-powered yacht.

Arts and Culture

For years, perhaps because of its corporate financial support, Hartford has enjoyed a number of nationally renowned musical and performing arts groups. The Greater Hartford Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1934 as part of the Great Depression's Works Progress Administration, is considered one of the top 20 orchestras in the country. The symphony's repertoire includes at least one modern composition at each concert at Bushnell Memorial Hall in downtown Hartford, and during summer concerts at Bushnell Park. Musical performances are also presented by the Hartford Pops and Hartford Jazz Society which offer summertime performances in Bushnell Park.

The Connecticut Opera Association, based in Hartford, puts on four annual productions at Bushnell Memorial Hall and features some of the finest voices in the world. Major popular music concerts ranging from rock to country are held at the Hartford Civic Center Coliseum. In addition, Bushnell Memorial Hall hosts visiting opera troupes and symphonies, off-Broadway productions, jazz, blues, and comedy performances. The Meadows Music Theatre, which provides a venue for concerts of various genres, is New England's only indoor and outdoor performing arts center.

Professional theater in Hartford revived with the advent of the Hartford Stage Company, the city's resident company and considered one of the nation's leading regional troupes. The Hartford Stage Company often premieres contemporary works by American and international playwrights during an October-June season. The Hartford Stage Company also puts on Summerstage, a series of three summer stock performances. Other theater groups include the Producing Guild and TheaterWorks.

The Wadsworth Atheneum, the country's oldest public art museum and highly ranked nationally, features exhibits ranging from pre-history to the present. Some of its 45,000 works are displayed in a special exhibit for the sight-impaired while others appear in changing exhibits of contemporary art. Major collections include Baroque art, Hudson River School landscapes, Meissen and Sevres porcelain, and early American decorative arts. The Atheneum presents more than 15 special shows each year. The Museum of Connecticut History in the State Library and Supreme Court Building focuses on the manufacture of firearms, while the Connecticut Historical Society Museum features changing exhibitions on the state's history in a beautiful old building on Elizabeth Street. The Historical Museum of Medicine and Dentistry includes an old-time dentist's office, along with exhibits of instruments and medicines.

Hartford's major art gallery, the Pump House Gallery, is maintained in a refurbished Victorian pump house in Bushnell Park. Works displayed include sculpture, pottery, paintings, photographs, and fabric creations. The Matrix Gallery at the Wadsworth Atheneum features revolving exhibits of contemporary art. Real Art Ways, a multi-disciplinary arts organization, promotes and supports contemporary artists. The gallery's home, a refurbished typewriter factory on Arbor Street, provides a venue for exhibitions, lectures, concerts, readings, and workshops, as well as housing a movie theater and lounge. Artworks Gallery, located on Pearl Street, is a nonprofit artists' cooperative that has repeatedly received the Hartford Courant's label of "Best Art Gallery." CRT Craftery Gallery is the most famous African American art gallery in the United States, while the Very Special Arts CT Gallery highlights the work of artists with disabilities.

Arts and Culture Information: Greater Hartford Arts Council, 48 Pratt Street, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)525-8629

Festivals and Holidays

Bushnell Park is the site of the New England Fiddle Contest, held each May, circumstances permitting. The one-day event features old-time music and prizes. Rose Weekend occurs each year in mid-June, when the roses of the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden are in full bloom. The festival includes poetry readings, music, and activities for children. The Hartford Festival of Jazz plays each July in Bushnell Park. Along with three days of music by internationally renowned artists, the Festival includes foods and crafts. August's Mark Twain Days honor Twain's legacy and the city's cultural heritage through concerts, frog jumping contests, riverboat rides, storytelling and other events. Hart-ford's large West Indian population celebrates its culture in a colorful West Indian/Jamaican Festival in August. The Festa Italiana, an annual two-day neighborhood party with food, crafts, music, dancing, and entertainment, is held in September, as is the African American Freedom Trail Parade. The two-day Connecticut Antiques Show comes to Hartford in mid-March. Held in the Connecticut Expo Center, the show features eighteenth- and nineteenth-century furniture and accessories.

Special annual events in downtown Hartford include First Night Hartford, a family-oriented New Year's Eve celebration; A Taste of Hartford, featuring food prepared by local restaurateurs, in June; a Fourth of July RiverFest (involving activities on both sides of the Connecticut River); Kid'riffic, a festival for children held in September; and Hartford Holidays, beginning with the Festival of Light on the day after Thanksgiving.

Sports for the Spectator

Appearing at the Civic Center are the University of Connect-icut's NCAA men's and women's basketball teams, both of which have recently won national titles. The University of Connecticut's varsity football team plays home games at Hartford's Rentschler Field. Other Hartford area colleges field athletic teams in many varsity and club sports.

The Hartford Wolfpack represent Hartford in the American Hockey League. The Wolfpack play at the Hartford Civic Center and are a player development team for the New York Rangers. Minor league baseball is represented by the class AA New Britain Rock Cats. The Hartford Wanderers Rugby Football Team plays its matches at the Glastonbury Irish-American Home Society. Cromwell is the scene of the PGA's Buick Championship tournament, a nationally televised professional golf event held in late August. Hartford also has professional and amateur boxing, a cricket team, and an annual marathon. Hartford jai alai's season is year-round and parimutuel betting is permitted.

Sports for the Participant

Hartford's riverfront supports a thriving fish population. The city's fifty public parks and squares cover more than 27,000 acres, nearly one-fourth of the city's area, allowing many outdoor sports and recreation programs. More than a million people annually picnic, jog, attend rallies, and socialize at Hartford's restored Bushnell Park. Bushnell Park also offers summer Art in the Park walking tours, tours of the historic Memorial Arch, and carousel rides. Elizabeth Park features a 2.5-acre garden of more than 15,000 rose bushes. The park as a whole encompasses over 100 acres and has picnic areas, a pond, and recreation areas. Golf is played on two public courses in Hartford, one of which, in Keney Park, was recently named one of the best in the region. Its proximity to both mountain ski resorts and ocean beaches makes Hartford a year-round athletic attraction. Nearby state parks provide facilities for camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The Riverfront Recapture program has revitalized a number of recreational sites along the Connecticut River. Activities such as boating, fishing, mountain biking, and orienteering are available at the riverfront parks. Riverfront Recapture also hosts a summer youth program.

Shopping and Dining

Several retail centers in downtown Hartford are easily reached on foot. Currently, Hartford's Civic Center Mall is undergoing renovations and will be transformed into a more up-to-date home for retail, dining, and entertainment establishments. The completed mall will link up with the renovated Pratt Street neighborhood. Union Station, a refurbished landmark, features stores and restaurants. Other well-known downtown shopping areas are the Pavilion at State House Square; Pearl and Asylum streets; and Richardson Mall, housed in a building listed in the National Register of Historical Landmarks. The shopping and dining area is enhanced by the popular outdoor Main Street Markets, featuring farmers' market produce, imports, handcrafted items, baked goods and entertainment. Several large shopping malls are within a few minutes' drive from Hartford.

Dining opportunities in Hartford reflect the city's multiethnic make-up. Restaurant-goers can choose from European offerings ranging from French continental to Scandinavian, German, Polish, and Italian. Asian cuisine is also found, along with the native foods of Puerto Rico. Recent years have seen an influx of West Indians, who have opened bakeries and restaurants specializing in fare such as curried chicken, ackee, codfish, and sweet potato pie. Fresh fish from the Atlantic and traditional New England favorites such as chowder and baked beans are standard menu items in many restaurants.

Visitor Information: Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau, 31 Pratt Street, 4th Floor, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)728-6789; toll-free (800)446-7811

Hartford: Economy

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Hartford: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Metropolitan Hartford's strong economy is based on a diverse business and industrial community. The area ranks number one in the world in gross domestic product per capita and number two in the world in labor productivity. Long a powerful insurance and financial center, it also boasts an extensive list of major high-tech manufacturing firms producing such complex products as aircraft engines, nuclear reactors, space suits, and missile components. The city is also a major data processing and telecommunications center. Other industries thriving in the area include health care and retail. With employees working in the state capitol building, the legislature, libraries, and the Supreme Court, government is another major economic sector. Hartford's physical location is a prime asset, as the city is located within 100 miles of both New York and Boston and offers access to 100 million consumers within an 8-hour drive. Additionally, Hartford is gaining a reputation as one of the nation's most wired cities, which has been an important factor in the attraction of information-oriented businesses.

Long known as the Insurance Capital of the World, MetroHartford is home to seven major insurance firms: Aetna Inc., Travelers Property Casualty Corp., MassMutual, The Hartford Financial Services Group, CIGNA, The Phoenix Companies, and The United Health Care Company.

The area's manufacturing sector includes many Fortune 500 corporations and large multinational organizations. Among the best known are the Barnes Group and United Technologies Corporation, its divisions Hamilton Sundstrand and Pratt & Whitney, along with its subsidiary Otis Elevator. Henkel Loctite Corporation has its world headquarters in MetroHartford. Stanley tools and hardware are produced in the region, as are the famed Colt firearms. Still, the region's backbone are the small- to mid-size businesses, which enjoy an excellent outlook for success in the early years of the century. Recently ranked number 17 nationally in the top 40 markets for business expansion, Hartford provides a fertile environment for small-business growth.

Items and goods produced: jet engines and aerospace products; fiber optics; chemicals; biomedical pharmaceutical products

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Future success for Hartford's new and expanding businesses is boosted by an aggressive program of business incubators, and by economic incentive and financial assistance packages made available through federal, state and local government and area educational facilities. Connecticut's financial and tax incentives include grants and tax abatements for firms locating in State Enterprise Zones and the Urban Jobs Program, which provides benefits for eligible projects in Targeted Investment Communities, as well as low-cost loans and development bond financing, and funding for new product development.

The MetroHartford Alliance seeks to provide leadership in order to enable the region to fulfill opportunities related to economic growth. The Alliance pursues this goal through financing and consulting services for export-minded small businesses, through services offered to international companies seeking to locate in the area, and through working cooperatively with all parts of the region on issues vital to their common economic health. The Chamber cites as Hart-ford's advantages its comparatively low business costs, strategic location, availability of business services, good transportation network, and an educated work force. In recent years, Alliance projects have included efforts to retain graduates of Hartford-area colleges to the region, implementation of a marketing and communications strategy, and expanding the Small Business Task Force.

Local programs

A variety of incentives for new and existing businesses are offered through the new Hartford Economic Development Commission. Among them are employment tax credits, tax credits for co-op employees and apprentices, assessment fixing, manufacturing personal property tax exemptions, and various other tax credits. A range of incentives are offered to businesses who locate or expand in the city's Enterprise Zone. The Growth Fund provides below-market-rate loans to help area companies add jobs. Financing is tied to the number of jobs created, and helps cover the difference between the bank loan and the actual project costs. Eligible projects include site acquisition, road work, remediation, and machinery.

State programs

The Connecticut Development Authority works to expand Connecticut's business base by working with private-sector partners to guarantee or participate in loans for businesses that may be unable to meet credit underwriting standards; providing access to lower-cost fixed asset financing through Small Business Administration 504 Debentures and tax-exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds; working to provide financial incentives to companies that enhance the skills of their employees; encouraging investment in the state's urban commercial infrastructure; providing grants and financing for businesses willing to develop areas plagued by environmental scourge; and by providing funding for companies interested in pursuing advances in information technology.

Job training programs

Capital Workforce Partners, established under the Workforce Investment Act, provides programs to assist in the development of a skilled and educated workforce. Regional CEOs oversee CWP. CWP operates six career centers through the region, each of which provides a full range of employment services, including job referral, career workshops, training, and financial aid opportunities. Employers also benefit from CWP's services, as they can receive assistance in areas such as recruitment, screening, and information on tax credit programs. The University of Connecticut Greater Hartford Campus is the designated Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for Hartford, serving start-up and small businesses. SBDCs offer technical and management assistance, counseling, education, and training programs.

Development Projects

One of Hartford's most important development projects is the 30-acre Adriaen's Landing site on the Connecticut River. The centerpiece of the project is the 540,000 square foot Connecticut Convention Center, the largest between New York and Boston. Attached to the convention center is a 22-story Marriott Hotel. Boardwalks connect the convention center with Constitution Plaza and with Riverfront Recapture, another recent Hartford development project which has reclaimed riverfront properties for parks and recreational spaces. Future developments at the site include the Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration and a residential and retail district.

The Hartford 21 project, another major development in the city, has begun a rejuvenation of the downtown neighborhoods near the Hartford Civic Center complex. One of the features of Hartford 21 is New England's largest residential tower. The project, when completed, will eliminate decaying infrastructure near the Civic Center and replace it with a 24-hour neighborhood with integrated retail, residential, and entertainment facilities.

In 2003, Rentschler field opened in East Hartford. Located on a former airfield donated by the Pratt & Whitney Corporation, the facility serves as a home field for University of Connecticut football as well as other entertainment and sporting events. Capital Community College has expanded into new space made available by the renovation of the historic G. Fox building, and has seen enrollment increase in this new 304,000 square foot space. Expansions are also in the works for the University of Hartford, where a new Performing Arts Center, Integrated Science, Engineering, and Technology complex, and new athletic fields are planned. The Blue Back Square project in West Hartford, scheduled for completion in 2006, promises 550,000 square feet of offices, luxury condominiums, and retail space. In the city of Hartford, work is underway on restoration of all buildings on the 110-acre Colt Gateway site. Commercial, residential, and light industrial space will be available when the project is completed. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has raised $43 million for intended renovations and developments, including expansion to increase exhibit space and amenities.

Economic Development Information: MetroHartford Alliance, 31 Pratt Street, 5th Floor, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)525-4451; fax (860)293-2592. Hartford Economic Development Commission, 11 Asylum St., Suite 501, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)524-0725

Commercial Shipping

Hartford, New England's second busiest retail market, benefits from its location on the Connecticut River and at the apex of several major interstate highways. The Connecticut River can accommodate barge and coastal tanker traffic; the river and two major interstate highways give Greater Hartford quick and direct access to commercial ports in New Haven, Bridgeport, and New London, with a convenient sea link to the Port of New York. Greater Hartford has benefitted from the state's $6.5 billion highway improvement program, which took place throughout the 1990s. Freight rail service is provided by Boston and Maine Corp. and Consolidated Rail Corp. Bradley International Airport, 15 miles north of the city, handles 140,000 tons of air cargo each year. The airport offers a new terminal and concourse, as well as roadway and viaduct improvements in the vicinity of the airport. Facilities are available for corporate and private aircraft, as is warehouse space for cargo processing. The Hartford-Brainard Airport provides freight service. Hartford Despatch International, based in East Hartford, is considered one of the country's foremost movers of commodities.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Despite mergers, consolidations, and downsizing towards the end of the 1990's, one in ten jobs in Hartford is still provided by businesses in the insurance and financial services industry. As the region's economy has diversified, members of Hartford's well-educated workforce have found employment in the many companies capitalizing on technological advancement. Precision instruments, computers, and electrical equipment are all produced in the Hartford area. Aerospace, information technology, and healthcare all look to be promising sectors for Hartford's future.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Hartford area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 537,600

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 21,100

manufacturing: 64,100

trade, transportation, and utilities: 88,700

information: 11,300

financial activities: 68,000

professional and business services: 57,100

educational and health services: 83,800

leisure and hospitality: 37,800

other services: 20,700

government: 85,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $20.08

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (March 2005)

Largest employers (2004)Number of employees
State of Connecticut(no employee figures available)
Aetna Life & Casualty Company
The Hartford
Travelers Insurance Company
Hartford Hospital

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Hartford area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $372,383

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 122.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 3% to 5%

State sales tax rate: 6% for most items

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: 48 mills per thousand (due to state legislative relief, residential properties consisting of 1-3 units are taxed substantially lower)

Economic Information: MetroHartford Alliance, 31 Pratt Street, 5th Floor, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)525-4451

Hartford: History

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Hartford: History

Connecticut Valley Draws New Settlers

Before settlers of European descent sailed to North America, the tribes of the Algonquin Federation had exploited the Connecticut River Valley's rich black soil to grow food crops. They called the area "Suckiaug," or black earth. The Algonquins also traveled the Connecticut River, establishing it early as an important trade route. When Adrien Block, a Dutchman working for the Dutch West Indies Company, became the first white man to explore the region in 1614, he found many prosperous Native American communities. In 1633, following a European epidemic that destroyed a majority of the native population, the Dutch colonists from New Amsterdam established a trading post on the river and built a fort on the site of modern-day Hartford. A few years later, English colonists seeking relief from the religiously oppressive Massachusetts Bay Colony drove the Dutch from their fort and renamed the settlement Hartford, after Hertford, England. It was the Dutch who inadvertently coined the term "Yankee," which has become synonymous with people and things native to New England. The Dutch called the invading English "Jankes" or "Johns," a term meaning robber or pirate. The Dutch pronunciation was quickly Anglicized and adopted into common usage.

The English colonists' leader, the Reverend Thomas Hooker, commissioned the writing of a document called the Fundamental Orders in 1639. The document was colonial North America's first constitution drawn up with the consent of the people it governed and served as a model for the U.S. Constitution. Hartford Colony then absorbed the town of New Haven and they shared the title of state capital until Hartford became the sole capital in 1873.

In 1662, Connecticut Governor John Winthrop traveled to England to request a royal charter from England's King Charles II. The charter, which superseded the Fundamental Orders, was so generous that James II, upon his succession to the British throne, wanted to revoke it. James sent Sir Edmond Adros to seize the charter but, according to legend, the document disappeared under mysterious circumstances and was hidden by patriots in the Charter Oak.

Industry, Innovation, Culture Shape Hartford

In the years prior to the American Revolution, Hartford changed from an agrarian to a mercantile society. Its shops bustled while its port throbbed with activity as ships laden with treasures from the Orient and Indies docked. It was this wealth of commercial activity that prompted the growth of Hartford as an insurance capital. Prosperous merchants, fearing the loss of the cargoes stored in warehouses along the river, subscribed to The Hartford Fire Insurance Company. Hartford's preeminence as a whaling town grew simultaneously.

When colonists eventually took up arms to win independence from England, Revolutionary General George Washington chose Jeremiah Wadsworth, a Hartford munitions merchant, as his chief of supplies. Following the war, the first woolen mill in New England was established in Hartford in 1788 and wove the cloth for President George Wash-ington's inaugural suit. Hartford soon entered the publishing industry, producing the first American juvenile publication in 1789 and the first cookbook in 1796. The first dental gold was used in Hartford in 1812. In 1817, the first American School for the Deaf was founded. Other Hartford "firsts" included the invention and manufacture of the revolver in 1836, of oil cloth in 1837, and of machine-made watches in 1838. The first use of nitrous oxide as an anesthetic took place in Hartford in 1844, the year the city's Wadsworth Atheneum opened as the nation's first public art museum.

A Hartford native, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, an anti-slavery novel published in 1852; the book helped speed the eruption of the Civil War. Prior to the war, Hartford was an important abolitionist site and a stop on the Underground Railroad, the route for escaping slaves. During the war, Hartford supplied arms to the Union Army. The city's largest industrial operation, Samuel Colt's Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, was a pioneer in the use of interchangeable parts for mass production. Colt's theories helped lay the foundation of the modern assembly line. In 1863 the first American accident life insurance policy was issued and Hartford furthered its progress toward becoming the world's insurance capital. Author Mark Twain settled in Hartford about this time, taking advantage of the city's flourishing publishing industry. Some six million books yearly were published in Hartford before New York took over as the East Coast publishing capital in the 1890s.

Citizenry Grows, Faces New Challenges

Hartford's population in the late nineteenth century swelled with the arrival of European and Canadian immigrants and southern African Americans eager to work in its mills and factories. The country's first bicycle plant was built in Hartford in 1877. The friction clutch was invented in Hartford in 1885, followed by the first standard measuring machine, accurate to .00001 inch, developed by Hartford's Pratt and Whitney company. Other innovations conceived in Hartford brought the city and nation into the modern age: the pay telephone in 1895, the first automobile insurance policy in 1897, and the first legislation to regulate motor traffic speed in 1901. More manufacturing innovations came from the Hartford enterprises in the first decades of the twentieth century. During World War II, Hartford industry developed a production-model radar set; the city was a major military production center throughout the war.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Hartford experienced a substantial loss of population as the middle class followed the express-ways to the suburbs. Hartford's population peaked in 1950 at 177,397. As agriculture declined in the area, former farm workers, including Puerto Ricans and southern African Americans, were left in urban poverty. Ghettos developed along Hartford's old East Side. In 1968, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the city's predominantly African American north end erupted in riots.

Hartford's city leaders responded quickly, launching massive urban renewal efforts. Constitutional Plaza, completed in 1964, includes office buildings, a hotel, a shopping mall, and research facilities. Bushnell Plaza followed, with the Hartford Civic Center opening in 1975. Older deteriorating neighborhoods began receiving attention in the 1970s and 1980s, helping attract residents back into the city. In 1981, Thirman L. Milner became the first African American mayor of Hartford and the first in any New England city. In 1987 Hartford's Carrie Saxon Perry became the first African American woman to be elected mayor of a New England city. Current Hartford mayor Eddie Perez, born in Puerto Rico, continues Hartford's tradition of diversity among government officials.

In the 1990's, Hartford experienced massive population loss and suffered from problems with crime and gangs. Since the end of that decade, however, Hartford has seen its population stabilize. Mayor Perez has dedicated himself to the continued revitalization of the Hartford area. Under his leadership, the city has developed a Neighborhood Policing Plan to augment the safety of Hartford neighborhoods. Hartford has also committed itself to improving the city's educational structure by investing $800 million into city schools during the first decade of the 2000's. Hartford's educated workforce and abundance of opportunities for development have made it an increasingly attractive setting for business, an attraction city leaders hope will help Hartford thrive in the decades to come.

Historical Information: Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT 06105; telephone (860)236-5621


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HARTFORD , capital of Connecticut. Population of greater Hartford County, 870,000; Jewish population, 34,000 (2001).

Early History

Hartford's town records reveal an early Jewish presence in colonial times. General court proceedings in 1659 mention a certain "David the Jew," an itinerant peddler; in 1661 a party of Jews in the city was given permission "to sojourn in Hartford seven months"; in 1667 "Jacob the Jew" transported horses to New York; in 1669 "David Jew" and "Jacob Jew" were among the 721 inhabitants listed in the town records. Advertisements in The Hartford Courant in 1788 and 1801 contain references to a thoroughfare known as "Jew Street," but whether it was actually inhabited at the time by Jews or Jewish merchants is unknown.

Jewish settlement in Hartford did not begin in earnest, however, until the 1840s with the first wave of immigrants from Germany. In 1847 Congregation Beth Israel was formed with an initial membership of six; four years later it had 150 members "of thriving business and good standing in society." A B'nai B'rith lodge was established in 1851, and in 1854 a Frauen Verein was organized to provide mutual aid and serve as a center of social activities. In 1856 Beth Israel acquired its first permanent structure, a refurbished Baptist church, and engaged Rabbi Isaac Mayer (1809–1898), who served for 12 years. With growing affluence and acculturation, the congregation erected a new synagogue in 1876, and in 1878 dropped its traditional orientation to join the Reform Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

East European Immigration

As a result of the great East European immigration to America, Hartford's Jewish population increased from 1,500 in 1880 to over 7,000 in 1910 and to almost 20,000 by 1920. The new immigrants founded the Adas Israel Synagogue in 1884, the Agudas Achim Synagogue in 1887, and six other Orthodox synagogues in the ensuing years. Two East European rabbis, Isaac S. Hurewitz, who served in Hartford from 1893 to 1935, and Zemach Hoffenberg, who served from 1899 to 1938, ministered to these congregations. They were among the many rabbis who served for more than four decades. Other Jewish institutions and organizations sprang up: the Hartford Sick Benefit Association and the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society in 1898; the B'nai Zion Society, which sponsored a group of 12 Zionist clubs, also in 1898; the Hebrew Institute Talmud Torah in 1901; the Hebrew Home for the Aged in 1907; the Hebrew Home for Children in 1907; a mikveh in 1907; the Council of Jewish Women in 1910; and a chapter of the Labor Zionist Farband in 1914. In 1912 some 30 of these organizations merged to form the United Jewish Charities. A Hadassah chapter was set up by Henrietta Szold in 1914, and in 1918, through the joint efforts of five local branches of the Workmen's Circle, the Labor Lyceum opened its doors. Among the immigrants were some who added new dimensions to Hartford's economic life. Expert furriers from Russia helped make Hartford a center of the fur trade, and skilled Jewish carpenters and cabinetmakers introduced the reproduction of antique furniture.

Post-World War i

Between the two world wars, with the cutoff of mass immigration, Hartford's Jewish community grew at a slower pace; this period was primarily one of further consolidation and integration into the general life of the city. Hartford's first Conservative congregation, the Emanuel Synagogue, was organized in 1919. Its first Jewish country club, the Tumble Brook Country and Golf Club, was opened in 1922. Mount Sinai Hospital, the first and only Jewish hospital in the state, was established in 1923. The weekly Jewish Ledger, founded by Samuel Neusner in 1929, with Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman as editor, has chronicled Jewish activity in the city. In 1935 a Jewish Community Council was formed, and in 1937, the Jewish Welfare Fund; the merger of these two organizations into a single Federation in 1945 united all Jewish communal and philanthropic endeavors under one roof. A Yeshiva Day School, established in 1940 and later renamed the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy of Greater Hartford, had nine grades, with several hundred students, in 1970. An eight grade Solomon Schechter Day School affiliated with the Conservative movement opened in 1971 and a Hebrew High School, supported by the communities of Springfield, ma, New Haven, and Hartford opened in 1996. By the mid 1990s more than 400 youngsters in the Greater Hartford area were receiving an intensive Jewish day school education.

During the post-World War ii period, Jewish community life in Greater Hartford centered around the city's synagogues – 11 Conservative, eight Orthodox, and three Reform – and around its Jewish Community Center, built in 1955, with over 7,000 members. Prominent rabbis in the community have included Morris *Silverman (1923–1961), who edited and translated the standard siddur that was used in Conservative Congregations for half a century or more, Abraham J. Feldman (1925–1968), Abraham AvRutick (1946–1982), and William Cohen (1946–1994). In all, Greater Hartford had 132 Jewish philanthropic, religious, cultural, and social organizations (1970). During the post-war years, Hartford's religious leadership was unusually stable with many rabbis serving in their congregations for more than three decades including Rabbis Stanley Kessler (Beth El, 1954–1994); Hans Bodenheimer (Tikvoh Chadoshoh, 1942–1996); Henry Okolica (Tifereth Israel, New Britain, 1960–1993); Philip Lazowski (Beth Hillel, 1962–1995); Isaac Avigdor (United Synagogues, 1954–1993); Haskel Lindenthal (Teferes Israel, 1956–1993); Harry Zwelling (B'nai Israel, New Britain, 1936–1971); and Leon Wind (Beth Shalom, Manchester, 1946–1979).

The economic life of the Jewish population is concentrated in the professions and in business. Over one-fifth of Hartford's doctors, approximately one-third of its dentists and attorneys, and one-half of its certified public accountants are Jews. Jews own over half of Hartford's retail businesses, although, in the 1960s, fewer than 2% of the city's commercial bank executives and barely 1% of the executives in the 10 largest insurance companies were Jewish. In the last quarter of the 20th century those percentages changed dramatically as Jewish professional life increased, obstacles to Jews entering banking and insurance ended, and large chain stores replaced small retailers on many Main Streets in the United States. At the University of Hartford Jews comprise roughly 20% of the faculty and 33% of the student body. As is the tendency elsewhere, Hartford's Jews moved in increasing numbers to the suburbs, so that in 1970 the majority lived outside the city proper. There was a great white flight to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s and many of the synagogues and Jewish institutions were relocated from Hartford to West Hartford. In the 1990s Jews moved further into other surrounding communities including Glastonbury and the Farmington Valley towns of Farmington, Avon, and Simsbury.

Jews in Public Life

Between 1860 and 1969, 102 Jews were elected to city and town councils; 34 served in the state legislature since 1919. In 1933 Herman P. *Kopplemann became the first Jew from Hartford to be elected to Congress, where he served four terms. Some Hartfordites holding public office were Morris Silverman, chairman and member of the Connecticut State Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities from 1943; Bernard Shapiro, state welfare commissioner during 1959–70; Elisha Freedman, city manager, from 1963; M. Joseph Blumenfield, U.S. District Court judge from 1964; and Louis Shapiro and Abraham S. Bordon on the state judiciary. Annie Fisher was the first Jewish district superintendent of schools. During the mid to late 20th century, Hartford's best-known Jewish citizen was Abraham A. *Ribicoff, who was governor of Connecticut, served in the Cabinet of John F. Kennedy, and was then elected to the Senate.

Jews have played an active role in Hartford's educational and cultural life. They are prominent in the University of Hartford, Trinity College, and the Hartford Symphony. A Jewish president, Stephen J. Tractenberg significantly improved the University of Hartford and during his tenure the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies was established. Trinity College also has a Judaic Studies program that adds to the intellectual life of the community.


M. Silverman, Hartford Jews: 16591969 (1970). add. bibliography: D.G. Dalin, J. Rosenbaum, and D.C. Dalin, Making a Life, Building a Community: A History of the Jews of Hartford (1997).

[Morris Silverman /

Leon Chameides (2nd ed.)]

Hartford: Education and Research

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Hartford: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Hartford Public School District is the second largest district in New England behind Boston, and the largest in Connecticut. A recent partnership of local business, the community, and the schools has brought about curriculum changes that include the addition of apprenticeship programs, a magnet school, advanced courses in science and math technology and a strong emphasis on creative problem solving to encourage career readiness. Hartford's expenditures on its schools have increased exponentially in recent years, and local government seems dedicated to continuing the upward trend. Still, test scores lag below state and national averages, although some improvement has been demonstrated.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Hartford Public Schools District as of the 20022003 school year.

Total enrollment: 22,734

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 29

junior high/middle schools: 4

senior high schools: 4

other: 1

Student/teacher ratio: 12.4:1

Teacher salaries

median: $49,968

Funding per pupil: $15,635

The array of private and parochial schools in the region includes Miss Porter's School in Farmington (where actor Katharine Hepburn matriculated), the Watkinson School and Kingswood-Oxford in West Hartford, and the American School for the Deaf, also in West Hartford.

Public Schools Information: Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools, 8th Floor, 153 Market St., Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)527-0742

Colleges and Universities

Greater Hartford is home to a number of liberal arts and technical two- and four-year schools, including the University of Hartford, offering 86 undergraduate majors and 32 graduate programs in seven schools; Trinity College, founded in 1823, the second-oldest college in the state after Yale; Capital Community-Technical College; the six-unit complex of St. Joseph College, which includes the state's only four-year women's college; Tunxis Community College; Rensselaer at Hartford, a graduate study institute offering Master's degrees and graduate certificates; Hartford Seminary (interdenominational); and The University of Connecticut's schools of law, social work, medicine, and dentistry are also located there. The university's main branch in Storrs is 35 miles east of Hartford.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Hartford Public Library, founded in 1774, contains 573,000 volumes; its main library building straddles a below-ground-level expressway. This facility houses the Hartford Collection, consisting of works published in Hartford, by Hartford authors, or about the city. The Caroline M. Hewins Early Children's Book Collection is also found at the main library. The library system consists of the main library, nine branch libraries, and one bookmobile. A major renovation and expansion project was recently completed at the Central Library, adding 44,000 square feet of new space, a glass bridge on the pre-existing ground floor spanning the highway, and an entirely new wing.

The Connecticut State Library, housed with the State Supreme Court near the Capitol, provides extensive local historical and genealogical information. Among other artifacts, the 1662 Charter of the Colony of Connecticut is displayed at the State Library. Noted for its collection of 170,000 books and nearly 3 million manuscripts on Connecticut history and genealogy is the Connecticut Historical Society Library, which also features collections of prints and photographs, furniture, costumes and textiles, toys, and tools. Trinity College Library is known for its collection of classics and scholarly journals. The Historical Museum of Medicine and Dentistry maintains a library as well as manuscripts pertaining to the history of anesthesia.

Other Hartford research centers are the Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian/Muslim Relations at the Hartford Seminary, which is engaged in collecting data about mosques in the United States and Christian centers in developing Muslim nations, and the Hartford Center for Social and Religious Research. Research at the University of Connecticut in Storrs covers such topics as the environment, materials science, and computer applications.

Public Library Information: Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)695-6300; fax (860)722-6900; email [email protected]

Hartford: Communications

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Hartford: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Hartford's daily newspaper, The Hartford Courant, established in 1764, is one of the nation's oldest continuously operating newspapers. Three other daily newspapers are printed in the region: The New Britain Herald, The Journal Inquirer, which covers the eastern suburbs, and The Valley Press, which covers the western suburbs. Special interest publications include the Inquirer, the region's largest African American community newspaper; and other publications covering management, motor transport, neurology, psychiatry, law enforcement, and Jewish affairs in Connecticut.

Television and Radio

Two independent television stations, four stations representing the major network affiliates, a public television station, and cable service provide television viewing in the area. The Hartford area is served by more than 15 radio stations. Connecticut Radio Information Service, headquartered in Wethersfield, broadcasts readings from daily newspapers and magazines for the benefit of state residents who are blind or cannot hold or turn pages.

Media Information: The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad Street, Hartford, CT 06115; telephone (860)241-6200. New Britain Herald, 1 Herald Square, New Britain, CT 06050; telephone (860)225-4601

Hartford Online

Connecticut Development Authority. Available www.ctcda.com

Hartford Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Available www.enjoyhartford.com

The Hartford Courant. Available www.ctnow.com

Hartford Historical Society. Available www.chs.org

Hartford Public Library. Available www.hartfordpl.lib.ct.us

Hartford Public Schools. Available www.hartfordschools.org

Mayor's Office, City of Hartford. Available www.hartford.gov

MetroHartford Chamber of Commerce. Available www.metrohartford.com

Selected Bibliography

Andrews, Kenneth Richmond, Nook Farm, Mark Twain's Hartford Circle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950)

Antonucci, Thomas and Michael Antonucci (Eds.), Hartford, CT (Historical Briefs, Inc., 1992)

Barbour, Lucius Barnes, Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1977)

Clemens, Samuel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (New York: Harper & Row, 1917)

Love, William DeLoss, The Colonial History of Hartford, Gathered from Original Sources by William DeLoss Love (U Chester, Conn. U: Centinel Hill Press, 1974)

Pearson, Ridley, Chain of Evidence, (Hyperion, 1997)


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Hartford: Introduction
Hartford: Geography and Climate
Hartford: History
Hartford: Population Profile
Hartford: Municipal Government
Hartford: Economy
Hartford: Education and Research
Hartford: Health Care
Hartford: Recreation
Hartford: Convention Facilities
Hartford: Transportation
Hartford: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1637 (incorporated,1784)

Head Official: Mayor Eddie A. Perez (since 2001)

City Population

1980: 136,392

1990: 139,739

2000: 121,578

2003 estimate: 124,387

Percent change, 19902000: -13%

U.S. rank in 1980: 117th

U.S. rank in 1990: 127th

U.S. rank in 2000: 200th (State rank: 2nd)

Metropolitan Area Population (PMSA)

1990: 1,157,585

2000: 1,183,110

Percent change, 19902000: 2.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 35th (NECMA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 35th (NECMA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 41st (NECMA)

Area: 18 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 294 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 49.8° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 44.1 inches of rain; 49 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Services, trade, government, manufacturing, and finance, insurance, and real estate

Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (March 2005)

Per Capita Income: $13,528 (1999)

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: $372,383

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 122.1

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 10,870

Major Colleges and Universities: Trinity College; Hartford Seminary; University of Hartford; University of Connecticut Law School

Daily Newspaper: The Hartford Courant

Hartford: Population Profile

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Hartford: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents (NECMA)

1990: 1,157,585

2000: 1,183,110

Percent change, 19902000: 2.2%

U.S. rank in 1980: 35th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 35th (NECMA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 41st (NECMA)

City Residents

1980: 136,392

1990: 139,739

2000: 121,578

2003 estimate: 124,387

Percent change, 19902000: -13%

U.S. rank in 1980: 117th

U.S. rank in 1990: 127th

U.S. rank in 2000: 200th (State rank: 2nd)

Density: 7,025.5 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 33,705

Black or African American: 46,264

American Indian and Alaska Native: 659

Asian: 1,971

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 135

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 49,260

Other: 32,230

Percent of residents born in state: 44.3% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 10,116

Population 5 to 9 years old: 10,764

Population 10 to 14 years old: 9,959

Population 15 to 19 years old: 10,341

Population 20 to 24 years old: 10,689

Population 25 to 34 years old: 18,801

Population 35 to 44 years old: 17,398

Population 45 to 54 years old: 13,342

Population 55 to 59 years old: 4,723

Population 60 to 64 years old: 3,875

Population 65 to 74 years old: 5,935

Population 75 to 84 years old: 4,015

Population 85 years and over: 1,638

Median age: 29.7 years

Births (2001)

Total number: 2,224

Deaths (2001)

Total number: 1,063 (of which, 30 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999

Per capita income: $13,428

Median household income: $24,820

Total households: 45,036

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 10,524

$10,000 to $14,999: 4,560

$15,000 to $24,999: 7,549

$25,000 to $34,999: 6,246

$35,000 to $49,999: 6,559

$50,000 to $74,999: 5,567

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,210

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,112

$150,000 to $199,999: 284

$200,000 or more: 425

Percent of families below poverty level: 28.2% (49.2% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 10,870

Hartford: Transportation

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Hartford: Transportation

Approaching the City

Bradley International Airport, a medium-sized hub and regional facility, is located 12 miles north of downtown Hartford in Windsor Locks. The airport is the second busiest in New England and served over six million passengers in 2004. Twelve airlines serve the airport out of two terminals, one of which was recently completed. Bradley is currently in the process of completing further renovations, including the modernization of the older terminal, the addition of restaurant and retail space, and a revamped baggage system. Brainard-Hartford Airport, built in 1921 and located in the southeast corner of the city, was the nation's first municipally-owned airport. Now state-owned, the airport is used for charter, instruction, and private aircraft.

Two interstate highways serve Hartford. I-91 runs north-south (alongside the Connecticut River in Hartford) while I-84 runs northeast-southwest. Passenger train service is provided by Amtrak, which operates passenger service to major points throughout the country, and several interstate bus companies provide long-distance passenger service. The Union Station Transportation Center, a century-old brownstone structure restored to its original beauty, serves as the region's central rail and bus station.

Traveling in the City

Connecticut Transit operates more than thirty routes in and around the city and will take tourists to many Hartford area tourist attractions outside the downtown area. The Downtown Council and Business for Downtown Hartford sponsors a Park, Shop and Dine program providing the first hour of parking free at lots and garages with a minimum purchase. The Scooter Bus system reaches many major employers downtown and throughout the city. It operates every 10 to 30 minutes from early morning to early evening. Riverfront Recapture and other downtown Hartford revitalization projects have created walkways and open areas that are conducive to pedestrian traffic in the city.

Hartford: Geography and Climate

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Hartford: Geography and Climate

Hartford, located in Hartford County in the center of Connecticut, is midway between New York City to the south and Boston, Massachusetts, to the north. The entire city is contained within the fertile Connecticut River Valley. Poised on a rise above the west side of the Connecticut River, the city of Hartford is set among a gently rolling landscape with extensive level areas. Hartford, at the head of the navigable portion of the river, has been a major inland port of entry.

Hartford's mild climate is typical of New England, neither very hot in the summer nor extremely cold in the winter. Storm activity building up in and moving eastward from the Berkshire Mountains, a northern branch of the Appalachian chain, accounts for the city's many summer thunderstorms. The Atlantic Ocean to the south contributes the famous wind and rain storms known locally as northeasters.

Area: 18 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 294 feet above sea level; mean elevation is 147 feet

Average Temperatures: January, 25.1° F; July, 73.7° F; annual average, 49.8° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 44.1 inches of rain; 49 inches of snow

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