Hartford: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: August 20, 2022

Hartford is the capital of the state of Connecticut, but not its largest city. It is located between New York and Boston in New England. Initially settled by the Dutch, it grew with the arrival of British settlers. Connecticut was one of the thirteen colonies that led to American Independence in 1788.

01. Capitole

The Connecticut State Capitol was inaugurated in 1879, after Hartford was chosen as the sole capital, following a period when New Haven shared that role. Hartford’s more central location surely worked in its favor. The building serves as the seat of both Houses and the Governor of the State. The public has free access to the park and during the week to the Capitol.

02. Old State House

The building dates from the late 18th century and was the site of official functions before the Capitol was built. It is now a tourist attraction, with renovations bringing it back to its former appearance. It is also said to be haunted, which paradoxically is an argument for attracting a wider public.

03. Municipal Building

After being housed in the Old State House for a time, the municipal government moved in 1915 to this new building built for the city on land donated by Hartford born banker JP Morgan. Facing the Wadsworth Atheneum, its courtyard is used to display sculptures, such as Alexander Calder’s Stegosaurus.

04. Wadsworth Atheneum

The museum opened in 1844 on a site donated by the Wadsworth family in the city centre, with a building resembling a castle. Expansions of various styles increased the exhibition space. It features American and European paintings, as well as sculptures from antiquity and a collection of European decorative art.

05. Cathedrals

The new Catholic cathedral dates from 1962, replacing the previous cathedral destroyed by fire. It differs greatly from the traditional Christchurch dating from 1820. Religious sentiment is fairly scattered, although Catholics make up about 30% of the population. As elsewhere, Anglicans were suspected and discouraged during the Revolution.

06. Travelers Tower

The tower stands at 160 metres, 527 feet, making it the seventh tallest building in the world when it was built in 1919. It was not until 1964 that Boston had a taller tower. The tower is actually an extension of an earlier 10-story building. It was built as the headquarters of the Travelers Insurance Company.

07. Constitution Plaza

This is a major urban project from the 1960s that transformed downtown. Before the office towers, there was a residential area, once inhabited by Italian immigrants. Then other waves of immigration changed the population, accompanied by a deterioration of the housing. However, the nostalgia for “Front Street” remains locally.

08. Bushnell Park

The park is located in the city centre and covers an area of 20 hectares, 50 acres. It was planned in the 1850s on what was then a polluting industrial estate for the surrounding area. There is a well-sheltered, century-old wooden horse carousel and a fake medieval fortified gateway used as a war memorial.

09. Hartford Fire Insurance

Hartford is especially well known for its insurance companies. There are a number of them based in the town, accounting for a significant proportion of employment. This tradition dates back to 1835 when a great fire devastated New York’s financial centre. Many insurers disappeared, and those who were able to meet the costs of the fire moved elsewhere, to Hartford.

10. Mark Twain Museum

It was in this beautiful middle-class house that Samuel Langhorne Clemens wrote his best-known novels about the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, published under the name Mark Twain. The author lived here from 1874 to 1891 and then moved to Europe, not selling the house until 1903. After various occupancies, it was restored and opened to the public in 1974.

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