Over the past 60 years or so, the state and federal government, with the city as a more than willing participant, did tremendous damage to Hartford. Historic buildings were demolished and neighborhoods bulldozed for highways and parking lots. A river that once reflected the image of the Mark Twain House and the author himself was buried. Ornate brownstone bridges that spanned that river were destroyed, streets were widened so cars could go faster, statues moved so drivers could get out of the city more quickly and the list of travesties goes on.
Much has been built in the past decade to try to rectify those mistakes and reverse the massive population loss of the last five decades, and it is no secret that much work still needs to be done. Vacant lots need to be transformed into places where people can live, shop,work and play. Traffic needs to be slowed down, and Hartford needs to be made more walkable.
A new plan was unveiled this week aimed at doing just that, called the iQuilt. It is pretty remarkable what your capital city will look like if this iQuilt gets done. It calls for, among many things, restoring a river to Bushnell Park, and tackling those eyesore asphalt fields that scar Capitol Avenue across from the Bushnell Theater.
This image here is of Tower Square, the entrance to the iconic Travelers Tower. The Travelers knows that one way to combat Connecticut’s well documented brain drain, is to improve the city where it would like to attract people to work. The Travelers is just one of the companies and organizations that are part of the iQuilt.
This Sunday on Face the State we are joined by the iQuilt’s Doug Suisman, a Hartford native who now lives in one of my favorite places, Santa Monica, California. He hopes to bring a little bit of this vibrant Los Angeles suburb to Hartford. Also on our panel: Mayor Pedro Segarra, City Councilman Bob Painter, and Mike Zaleski from the Business Improvement District.
By the way, that picture at the top? That was the old Hartford Public High School , demolished for I-84 along with the neighborhood that surrounded it.
See you this Sunday at 11AM, only on Channel 3.
*HPHS photo courtesy Connecticut Historical Society